How to enhance customer loyalty leveraging Social Media?

It was a mere half-decade ago that loyalty marketers began to start investigating seriously into how social networks and loyalty relate to one another. The rising power of social networks and customer word-of-mouth forced them to Loyaltyacknowledge its impact & importance since it has shown an inordinate effect in a short span of time.

Nurturing and leveraging virtual consumer networks has now become a prime evolutionary trend in loyalty over the next few years. Obviously, consumer use of social media has exploded since then, led by the seemingly boundless popularity of Facebook, followed by Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and blogs, as well as the more recent location-based success stories such as Foursquare and raise-your-hand-together models such as Groupon.

Research depicts that in 2010 worldwide internet users spent nearly a quarter of their online time on social networking sites and blogs, an increase of almost 19 % over 2009. Thanks to the iPhone and other smartphones, the use of social networks through the mobile phone is increasing at a rapid clip. These trends are bound to show a rapid increase with the number of mobile social network users to double between 2010 and 2015 i.e. from around 40 million users to close to 80 million.

Engaging social media to churn loyalty

Marketers need to integrate “social” into their cross channel loyalty program efforts and ensure it is given proper attention from all channels. Hence- Reach out to them: Social media from the very beginning offered many natural connections to loyalty marketers seeking to cultivate customer loyalty. With its emphasis on word-of-mouth, sharing, linking, “friending” and “liking,” social media provides dominant & dynamic tools to implement such core loyalty principles as relationship-building, customer service, personalization and data gathering/analytics.

Develop a Strategy:  Social web provides the ideal platform to nurture higher engagement and advocacy.

Most brands already have some sort of social web presence, but it is not an integral part of their Retail / loyalty program. Marketers need to begin their efforts by setting up a fan page; an online community; and provide access to relevant information, promotional offers, exclusive online only events/contests. This should then evolve, as-

  • Allow customers to earn, burn, purchase & donate
  • Integrate loyalty & brand fan pages to mainstream Retail
  • Have exclusive offers & promotions via Facebook to Fan comments
  • Socially active members to have a star status, inaddition to reward points
  • Status points can be translated to social currency (like Facebook credits) or converted into “money
  • can’t buy gifts”, e.g. exclusive lunch invite or a memorabilia
  • Engage fans on socially active themes with special rewards
  • Acknowledge & respond to Fan comments

Engage into trialogue

The need for the evolution of a dialogue to a ‘Trialogue’- where the members’ social networks become a part of the retailer – consumer conversation, is of great importance today and in times to come.

Develop a 3-way dialogue where the brand has easy access to the best customers, the customers have easy &direct access to the brand, and the customers can talk to each other freely from which both customers and the brand can extract value

Groom Brand Advocates

With transactional and social interaction data available, loyalty marketers can spot community managers and brand loyalists, their help can be leveraged to spread out a positive word to enhance brand image with success stories. With quantification of ROI on social media initiatives being a challenge for all marketers, it is important for loyalty marketers to begin connecting in measurable ways with their best customers. Marketers thereby should identify their brand loyalists, take them seriously (Because they can elevate or tear down a brand), and engage with them continuously.

Social media clearly offers transformational loyalty-marketing opportunities to retailers, but all of its unique benefits are yet to be tapped. And, as with any loyalty effort, gaining consumer trust, & providing a good value proposition—and a superior product or service—are essential. In Retail market the businesses that shall bring disciplined decision making, strong buy-in from the top, constant efforts at measurement and proof, and willingness to experiment that will win in connecting social media and loyalty and move to the next stage of success in the social media space.

Social media offers the opportunity to see customers as more than just numbers. Through trialogue, social tools help bring customers to life—which helps loyalty marketers learn the right ways to reach their goal of building long term relationships.

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