Understanding Why Social Media Engagement is Critical to Retail Loyalty Program Success

Jul 4

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7/4/2014  RssIcon

In this modern era, social media is one of the most dominant forms of communication as virtually everyone is connected through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and other platforms. With the vast majority of the population carrying an internet-connected mobile device, social networks allow retail businesses a unique opportunity to engage consumers on a more personal level. Let's take a quick look at why engaging your customers – both current and future – via social media networks is critical to the success of your loyalty program.

Going Above and Beyond Loyalty Programs

As you already know, retailers face two significant challenges: attracting individuals to enter the shop to make a purchase, and then retaining those customers to ensure they return to the store on a regular basis. A loyalty program is a great first step in ensuring that you build repeat business, as these customers will be encouraged to shop to build points, earn rewards and leverage loyalty discounts. However, once you have these individuals engaged you would be amiss if you didn't work to extract referral business from them, and the easiest way is via social media.

When your customers get rewards, whether it's in the form of points, cash, or great promotions, they feel satisfied and this is an excellent time to encourage them to share how they feel about your brand. Offer an additional reward to those who send out a tweet with your hashtag, or who take a photo inside of your store and post it to their Instagram account. This type of low-cost referral marketing can have a significant ROI.

Social Media Means Staying in Touch

If you haven't already, create a Facebook Fan Page for your business to give your customers a place where they can check in on your company, your current promotions and see what's new. Facebook is also an excellent medium for sharing events, such as member-only sales or 'Friends and Family' discount nights. If you retail visual products like clothing, you should also build an online presence through image-based social networks like Pinterest and Instagram. Frequent posting on these networks will typically lead you to build a group of followers who will continually share your posts with their networks.

Responding to Inbound Communication

As social media networks allow for two-way communication, it's critical that someone representing your store or brand is placed in charge of responding to any comments or complaints that are made. Whether positive or negative, comments made by users are public and available for others to see. Nothing can sink a business faster on a social network than by mishandling an irritated customer or by not responding to valid criticism in an appropriate way. Keep in mind that for many of your loyalty program's members, contacting your brand through a social network is the most effort they will go through in order to have their complaints heard. If they don't receive a response, they are unlikely to return.

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