From the Boots Advantage Card to Starbucks ‘Buy 10 coffees get 1 free’, brands have been pushing loyalty for decades - offline. What about online? Thanks to social media, brands can now interrupt customers with relevant brand messages; they can start conversations and engage them. But how do they keep them coming back for more? How can brands drive more value through an audience that are already engaging with them? The answer is simple, REWARD, REWARD, REWARD.
Some brands have started some interesting initiatives using loyalty as their focus, for example:
Innocent - a ‘digital native’, has launched the #tweetandeat initiative. The more tweets the brand receives, the bigger the discount. Simple. Through this approach, Innocent is effectively ‘buying’ tweets, but what’s the main objective here? Start a conversation, tick! Create a buzz around the brand, tick! Drive trial, tick! Get people coming back for more, tick! Clever, effective, simple ideas - based on offline models, reinvented online.
The Times Social List turns consumers social activities into social currency, giving them a them a ‘ranking’ within their own social sphere, so why is this a reward? Well, it’s interesting. Most people are never going to get onto The Times ‘Rich List’, but the paper is giving people an opportunity to compete with their peers based on their social media activities, something they do every day and that is relevant and accessible to them.
PunchTab, a new application which brands can incorporate into their site, enabling users to collect loyalty points in return for actions such as liking a Facebook page, commenting on a blog post, or purchasing an item or service. This makes social activity a tangible asset. These points can then be exchanged for prizes determined by the businesses, such as merchandise or gift cards from Amazon and iTunes.
It’s clear that whilst Social Media can help to increase brand visibility and engagement with existing and potential customers. It’s time brands recognise that this audience needs to be ‘fed’ more than just messages. Brands need to reward their engaged customers with value, whether that is of monetary value or with something that interests and excites them. Give them a reason to become fan, and essentially do the marketing for you.