This bears repeating—a virtual social loyalty program. One that will enable brands to engage more intimately with their customers, facilitate loyalty, expand social influence towards conversions to commerce and fuel product innovation. Customers will tell your company what they want to purchase, when they want to purchase and how they want to purchase if you are listening and analyzing their conversations to create customer intelligence.
Wait say brands! We have already invested in a social community with managers to engage with our customers and retained bloggers to help influence the online communities. How is this different and why the urgency? As the number of users on social networks continue to grow—48 million joined Facebook in the last three months alone—advertisers will continue to increase their spending accordingly making it harder for brands to stand out, differentiate themselves and retain customer loyalty. Know this—genuine peer to peer influence with authenticity will always have more impact on commerce than paid advertising or search.
Social Champions: The New BFF for Sales & Marketing
Engaging with prospects and customers via today’s multi-channel environment is increasingly complex. Consumers are constrained by time, over-loaded with information, and tightening their wallets. Likewise, companies are resource-constrained in navigating micro-channels of audiences for various products and services. Prioritizing opportunities presented takes time and effort unless repeatable processes to triage and engage with customers are employed. As one end-user articulated:
Enter brand advocates and social champions, a type of corporate “Best Friend Forever” if you will. Harnessing the expanded network influence of loyal, key customers is an effective way to augment sales and marketing efforts to engage with as well as to influence prospects and customers. Whatever metrics, methodologies, or criteria one uses to identify and score customer as a) champions and promoters, b) best customer$, defined by annual spend or c) most loyal customers, defined by frequency, (Klout, Net Promoter and Customer Commitment or Customer Engagement Index scores are popular, but not necessarily applicable to all companies), it is important to fully understand the dimensions and logic behind each—and to align them with corporate objectives.
Effective Best Practices
Some organizations advised by Hypatia Research Group have had success in offering small discounts, advance notice of sales, coupons, or loyalty program upgrades (i.e. advocate to champion) to these brand ambassadors complete with swag or rewards when their followers convert to paying customers. We encourage brands to make these incremental thank you gestures rather than out right fees for promotional services which might be perceived as bribes by others and thus lacking in authenticity. (Example: retained bloggers or those that provide online product reviews for monetary compensation). Other techniques include…for more primary research with charts and figures, see the full report. “Want Social ROI? Time to Design a Virtual Social Loyalty Program“.
1 ©2013 Hypatia Research Group. “A Social Analytics & Intelligence Vendor GalaxyTM Evaluation Study: Converting Contextual to Actionable Insights Plus Maturity Models”
2 ©2011 Hypatia Research Group. “Benchmarking Social Community Investments: Best Practices & GalaxyTM Vendor Evaluations”
3 Facebook Inc. –Its recent advertising windfalls nearly tripled on a 72% increase in revenue in its first quarter, and surpassed Wall Street expectations.
4 Anachronism: Use of term “Best Friend Forever”—a term which gained popularity from the 1980s onward