Referrals are the marketing lifeblood for many companies. According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), 90 percent of small businesses rely on word-of-mouth referrals. And Nielsen reports that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

Are you looking to get more ROI from your refer-a-friend program? Here are three new ways to get more bang for your refer-a-friend bucks:

1. Get Advocates to rate and review your products

Your Advocates will do more than refer friends to you. They’ll also create valuable content like glowing testimonials and highly positive reviews that boost your online ratings and rankings on shopping sites.

Consumer electronics company TiVo recently ran a highly successful refer-a-friend campaign. The company generated over 100,000 referrals and millions of social media impressions.

A whopping 54 percent of TiVo Advocates who referred friends also have recommended TiVo by writing and publishing positive reviews on shopping sites or advocating TiVo in other ways. This has helped TiVo increase its star ratings on, Best and other sites.

To get referrals and content, you’re going to need an Advocate marketing platform that enables Advocates to recommend your brand and products in both these ways and more. This platform should provide you with a single view of each Advocate so you don’t create separate siloes of data about Advocates.

2. Use refer-a-friend promotions to amplify your brand message

A well-known Las Vegas hotel that has spent millions on a major renovation is launching a refer-a-friend campaign that encourages happy guests to tell friends about the hotel’s facelift.

Advocates will create and share stories about their experiences at the newly-renovated hotel. Advocates  can earn up to ten nights’ free stays for referring friends who stay at the hotel. Plus, Advocates and their friends are entered into a drawing for a Grand Prize: an all-expenses weekend at the hotel including a free room in the hotel’s celebrity suite.

Refer-a-friend campaigns and programs should be managed by demand generation specialists in your company. But you should be involving branding and social media teams in the process of creating refer-a-friend promotions.

3. Support a worthy social cause

Most refer-a-friend campaigns are little more than bounty-hunting: you bring us a new customer, we’ll pay you a fee. While this can and does work in many cases, why not create a refer-a-friend incentive that people feel good about and increases brand engagement?

Norton, the consumer brand of Symantec, generated thousands of recommendations and referrals when it provided donations to Computers for Youth on behalf of Norton Advocates. The companies generated over 10,000 referrals and, at the same time, helped needy kids get computers.

Chances are, your company already has a favorite cause or charity it supports. If not, pick a worthy non-profit or other cause that matters to your Advocates. Then, make donations on behalf of Advocates who refer friends. Everyone wins.