Social media can boost customer loyalty

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Social media can boost customer loyalty

Whether you take advantage of communities such as Facebook, tools like Twitter or the power of apps, savvy marketers know social media can help CRM efforts. Four industry experts share their best tips.

Brad Vettese
EVP and managing director, Ipsh

As social networking experiences explosive growth, sophisticated marketers are building friend communities into high-performance loyalty tools. Rather than launching market­ing messages at an increasingly indifferent audience, today we're seeing marketers not only participate in digital communities, but organize and promote their own community programs that cultivate a brand's loyal fol­lowing of “friends.”

Victoria's Secret Pink is a great example of this new approach. Pink has more than 900,000 “friends” in its Facebook commu­nity. By its nature, the community is a self-selecting loyalty program. Pink has been careful to provide tools that not only help to manage the brand's identity, but communi­cate with loyal “friends” and strengthen the brand's relevance.

Last July, everyone in the Pink Facebook community was invited to “Pinkapalooza,” an event celebrating the launch of Pink's back-to-school Collegiate Collection. The event, which featured the band Fall Out Boy, was held at the legendary Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles.

Facebook friends downloaded the invi­tation online, then participated in games and contests via mobile while at the event. Afterward, Pink sent mobile participants an mCoupon to their mobile device for in-store specials on merchandise.

So was this a promotion, a loyalty program or just friends connecting with friends? All of the above. Best of all, it was effective.

Social media is a good loyalty tool because it builds a community around a brand

Joe Fullman
Senior analyst, Greater Than One

Apple consumers have a reputation for being a fiercely loyal bunch, and Apple has been fanning the flames of this passion for nearly half a decade with their “Apple Stu­dents” Facebook presence. With more than 900,000 fans, it's consistently been one of the most popular Facebook pages.

The group started life as a CRM vehicle — a new way of pushing links to student-only deals at the Apple Store via e-mail inboxes, back when Facebook was a com­munity for college students.

Today, the Apple Students Fan Page inte­grates links to Apple deals, news updates and Facebook applications, and provides links to top movies, TV shows and songs for iTunes download.

More importantly, it contains a discus­sion board with more than 15,000 active conversations.

The Facebook page engages the right demographic with the right directly action­able message, and therefore represents best-in-class social marketing. Furthermore, Apple had the foresight to choose a venue where its demographic was already happy to spend time.

Even if your brand doesn't inspire the same passion as Apple's, the lesson is still the same: Engaging emerging communi­ties of consumers is most effective when consumers have something to gain from the engaging, whether it be free music, the latest deal or information on the products they want.

If consumers have something to gain from social media, they are more likely to engage

Erick Mott
Communications director, Lyris

Like other Web 2.0 topics, social media marketing is not clearly defined or broadly understood. However, marketing messaging in general — distributed via e-mail, social and mobile channels — is becoming more conversational in nature and less oriented to pitch-like tactics.

If you agree with this point of view, then consider a marketing strategy that applies “tri-messaging” as a catalyst for conversa­tions. Tri-messaging is essentially marketing messages that are written, packaged and unleashed on the modern e-mail, social and mobile channels.

An example of tri-messaging is sending out an e-mail with a subject line at the same time as a Tweet and an SMS text. All three of these messages have a common denomina­tor: They're easy to consume, pique interest and stimulate action.

People solve problems with conversation. E-mail has become a way of life and people demand ubiquity and immediacy, so social media or networking, which is inexpensive and often free, fulfills an innate need to con­nect with others. These facts will continue to influence the way marketers execute loyalty-building campaigns.

Tri-messaging is not a fad, but rather a 21st-century best practice through which marketers can serve and interact with their target audiences via e-mail, social and mobile channels. This approach facilitates conversations and loyalty that can be mea­sured and monetized.

As a loyalty tool, social media works best in conjunction with other channels

Daina Middletown
SVP of Sunao, Moxie Interactive

Participants enter social networks to foster relationships and find items of interest. They expect to have a voice and participate. This means understanding who you're trying to reach in order to provide something of value. It also requires developing innovative creative that goes beyond traditional adver­tising such as using technology or content that is meaningful and relevant as well as consistent with a brand's positioning.

A perfect example is the Marley Fetch application that was created for 20th Cen­tury Fox's Marley and Me. The application provided community value, while at the same time delivered the underlying mes­sage of the movie. The application used an adorable Marley dog widget, which could be deployed on Facebook, MySpace or other sites to “fetch” gifts for participant friends uti­lizing their social media profile information and Amazon's shopping infrastructure.

Launching a gift finder around the holi­days was timely; however the core technol­ogy and shelf life of the application had the capability to live beyond the holidays. If participants do find value in an offering like Marley Fetch, they aren't going to be excited to have it suddenly disappear.

Understanding an application's lifespan and how it connects a brand with partici­pants is essential especially when developing the media plan and technology. If planned correctly, connecting brands with partici­pants in social networks can effectively drive loyalty.

Create a conversation about a brand by offering something relevant to participants


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