There is a simple initial answer as to why the best loyalty programs use social media. It is because this is where the customers are.

As of late 2016, 69% of the adult American public uses social media. When we consider the fact this percentage was 5% in 2005, it’s fair to say the market has significantly changed in the past decade or so.


Social media opportunity

While this many users means there is new opportunity to attract customers, it also means there is more competition. This is why we are taking the question further by asking why the best customer loyalty programs use social media. By answering, we can show you how customer loyalty programs can direct your business towards the future and keep it on its path.

Social media extends your reach. Whether your company existed before social media, it is counter-intuitive to ignore the opportunity to get your brand out to new people. You might be exploiting an original customer base or building it from scratch. Either way, using social media not only helps to reward your customers, it shows off your wares to their followers.

Social media networks are just that. They are a network of people all connected through the same mainframe. Increasing your reach is not as simple as merely posting something and expecting the whole world to see it. However, with the increase in viral marketing and the unquenchable desire for new content, the possibility that your brand is seen by the whole world is growing.


Adapt to the parameters of success

The parameters of success have also changed. If you want your business to succeed, maintaining an active and vital social media presence is one of the metrics by which you will be judged.

Like all aspects of business, using social media for your loyalty program requires investment. You need to think of how your online activity will attract new customers, so you need to strategize. Fortunately, coming up with new ways to increase loyalty on social media can be as enjoyable as it is rewarding.

Using a customer loyalty program will not only help you to strategize in the first place, they will help you analyze your success or failure and provide important indicators of how you should move forward.


Starbucks sells loyalty, not coffee

starbucks tweet a coffee


This is because social media users see how you promote your goods and services as being almost as important as their quality. Companies with top loyalty programs like Starbucks don’t necessarily make the best coffee in the world, but they are one of the best at implementing customer loyalty.

This started in meatspace (or “real life” as some may call it) with their gold club card membership. A physical card was purchased which afforded the bearer discounts throughout the year. As technology improved, this developed into a tier system which rewarded users for their purchases. They could use a specially devised app which both cut costs and tracked the customer’s records.

Using social media to promote this customer loyalty system would have been key in making it work. Getting the word out means referrals, in turn creating more customers.


Retain & acquire with social media

This is because a good loyalty program uses social media to solve two problems: retaining existing customers and acquiring new ones. Let’s look at some ways social media can help use do that.

The first way is to appreciate the power of the hashtag. If you have a promotion, simply adding a hashtag which is both relevant to your specific idea and which is of interest to your key demographics can make all the difference. Using a loyalty program will help you work out who your core customer base is. This will allow you to tailor posts and promotions to something they are willing to share.

Rewarding customers for simply sharing your posts is a great way to increase loyalty. With the ease it takes to create a post, it essentially provides something for nothing which customers really value. The reward, of course, won’t need to be especially grand. It can be as little as a discount code or even some free media. What you get out of it will be greater reach and potential new custom.

Another way to use hashtags to your customer loyalty advantage is to create a contest. It could involve posing a question on a social media platform like Twitter. If the answer is tweeted with the correct hashtag, they are entered in to a contest where the winner and reward can be shared with the same hashtag.

This allows you to piggyback on entrant’s followers as the hashtag will come up in their feeds, enticing new customers to enter.


Loyalty grows social & social grows loyalty

Customer loyalty platforms will also help you decide which social media platform will work best for your promotion. While hashtags work great on Twitter, platforms like Instagram rely more heavily on visual content.

Here a photo contest can work amazingly well for you. It harnesses the impetus social media users have for being on the platform – looking at pictures and video. If the reward is good enough, users will be happy to trade something just for entering. This is where your customer loyalty platform comes in.

Use social media to advertise the contest, telling them to click the link in bio to go to your submissions page. There they will submit their photo while also filling in the required fields. If this is a home address, it might turn people off. If it is an email address, it is likely users will be happy to provide one in return for the possibility of winning.

Now you can go back to social media to publish entrants and winners, creating even more reach in the process. Using social media to link to your own website has great advantages. It means you can increase traffic and use your landing page into investigating your goods and services further.


Footlocker – promotion through interaction

Although it is an older promotion, the shoe retailer Footlocker created an interactive game which can still inspire any loyalty program now and in the future. Footlocker have one of the best loyalty programs in the shoe business. They keep at the forefront with an app which allows for omnichannel data storing.

This app allows customers to vie for the ultimate sneaker freak accolade – being a Footlocker VIP. Customers can check the points they get from their last purchases and have all of their information collected in one place. Reaching the VIP stage allows for customers to not only get discounts and deals, but buy limited edition sneaks before anybody else.

To promote their brand and their app on social media, Footlocker created an amazing contest which incorporated celebrity, innovation and interaction. The legendary NBA player James Harden challenged Footlocker customers to a classic game of horse.

Best retail loyalty program

Customers would film themselves performing a shot and then post it to their Twitter or Instagram with the corresponding hashtags. When the submission deadline was over, customers could watch live as they streamed Harden trying to meet or best their submissions.

This competition is the kind of campaign loyalty programs should strive for. It gets interest by using a celebrity, but it uses really creative means to engage further. It is fun, uses social media to its best strengths (live video, hashtags, posting submissions, etc.) and shows customers that Footlocker care about them enjoying themselves. It was so good, it won a Shorty Award for Best Contest or Promotion.

Consistency is key

The best way companies can use social media for their loyalty program is to keep it consistent. Users might be happy to add you for a discount or the chance to enter a competition, but they will be just as happy to cull you if you don’t provide anything for them or if you become a nuisance.

A good customer loyalty program will allow you to keep on top of your social media activity. It will help you implement the right promotion at the right time, but it will also help you know when to hold back in case you risk spamming people’s feeds.

Finally, best loyalty programs will develop over time. While these ideas might be good starters, you might want to look into developing a points based system bolstered through social media.

This means users can get rewards for likes, shares and related posts. While this might seem more complicated, it will help your brand no end. You just have to make sure you keep them loyal by staying on top of your rewards and referral systems.

Macy’s – an old Brand with new ideas

best retail loyalty program

The best loyalty programs will develop over time. While these ideas might be good starters, you might want to look into developing a points based system bolstered through social media.

This means users can get rewards for likes, shares and related posts. While this might seem more complicated, it will help your brand no end. You just have to make sure you keep them loyal by staying on top of your rewards and referral systems.

Macy’s has always been at the forefront of department store retail, but unfortunately online shopping has helped to slow growth in the last few years. This is why even stalwart brands are seeing the value in customer loyalty programs, especially when it comes to straying shoppers.

In order to stem the tide of departing customers, Macy’s made it even more rewarding to stick with them. Although some loyalty programs use a points only system, they have incorporated a tiered rewards program. This allows customers to become top shoppers through continued purchases.

For Macy’s the problem was that simple rewards for collection points wasn’t showing customers that they were valued enough. In tandem was an attempt to demonstrate that buying from brick and mortar not only rivaled the deals of online competitors, but allowed for a kind of shopping which could never be experienced through a computer or smartphone.

Top Macy’s shoppers are allowed access to specially designed trunk shows. This means that any customer whose data would indicate an interest in a certain brand is invited to these VIP events, as long as they have proved their loyalty to reach the right tier. This is the kind of exclusivity which physical stores need to promote to stay in the game.

However, to promote these events, it is necessary to use their online presence. Fitness products are a great sell for Macy’s customers. One promotion combined this with social media’s tendency to place high value on healthy lifestyle content.

Pictures of health instructor Frank Sepe were used in a promotion for a sweepstakes competition. Sweepstakes are a great way to use social media to build customer loyalty. All customers need to do is like and follow the Facebook page and then put their information in when prompted. This helps bring new customers in all while being promoted through the current customer’s loyalty software.

The winner gets a $1,000 Macy’s Gift card (to be used in store) and Macy’s gets extensive reach and many new followers. Using social media for your loyalty program means finding the reasons customer’s use social media in the first place and appealing to them.


Sephora – promoting for information

best cosmetic rewards program

As we have said, one of the greatest appeals of social media is the immediacy of visual content. There are entire Instagram accounts dedicated to pictures of couples holding hands in various exotic locations. Travel and the status of upmarket vacationing is gold in terms of social media currency.

This is why cosmetics and personal care retailer Sephora knows how to promote on social media. Sephora’s loyalty program is the Beauty Insider rewards scheme. This allows customers to collect points with all of their Sephora purchases, opening up deluxe product rewards, moving up levels and allowing customer to take advantage of seasonal promotions. There is also a free birthday gift for every member to combine the element of surprise into their program.

By signing up to this reward program, you will be also be kept up to date with all of their promotions. One of the best social media Sephora promotions was their dream vacation give away. Customers had to go to Sephora’s Facebook page and fill in their form. This gives Sephora valuable information for marketing purposes, but it gives the customer a chance to win an all-inclusive surfing trip to Costa Rica. Not only this, but Sephora also included a year’s supple of Bumble and Bumble surf brand personal care products. Customers are happy to exchange basic information for opportunities such as this, especially for respected brands.

By using surfing pictures, vacation pictures and, of course, pictures of paradises like Costa Rica, Sephora can promote a contest which is going to catch people’s eye. Once caught, they can back up the image with an amazing competition bound to build interest.

best cosmetics loyalty program

This is one of the most important aspects about promoting customer loyalty on social networks. You can’t be all style and no substance. You may be able to catch users’ eyes on explore and news feeds, but if you don’t have anything to back it up, then users will be annoyed you wasted their time. This is counterproductive in terms of promoting loyalty through social media.

Finally, Sephora are a lifestyle brand. This means they need to cultivate the kind of promotions which appeal to social media users who want to be seen to have a certain lifestyle. They follow up on initial social media interest by proving how their brand reflects the aspirational lifestyle they want to have. In doing so, they maintain loyalty for existing customers and cross promote for new referrals.

If you want to learn how your company can incorporate social media, set up a quick call with our social loyalty experts today!

Toni Arco
CEO & Head of Growth
Toni, our CEO, is passionate about business growth through technology. He has founded 2 technology companies and spent over 6 years as CTO of digital marketing companies. He spends his time discovering the newest technology and applying trends to our own product and processes. He mentors tech start-ups and teaches courses on growth hacking to share his knowledge.

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