Content strategist Jennie Kim lays out the three components of a winning content strategy and...
How to Tell if You’re on Your Customers’ Minds
Let’s say you’re an unabashed fan of The Office or NBC Nightly News, so you turn to Facebook or Twitter to discuss the show or comment on a news story. For your time, you earn points from the network, which increase your chances of winning a walk-on role in one of your favorite shows.
That’s the idea behind NBC’s free “Fan It” affinity program that launched in mid-2010. Similar social media rewards programs are effectively building loyalty among customers of major brands, including Apple, American Express and several large cable TV outlets.
These initiatives are simply a new way of expanding traditional “word-of-mouth” to much broader audiences online. And they work the same way: by creating brand ambassadors among the client base. Promo magazine recently reported that participants in loyalty or rewards programs are nearly 70 percent more likely than nonparticipants to recommend the sponsor’s brand, product or service to someone else.
The rewards don’t have to be extravagant. In fact, the ultimate goal of a social media-based rewards program is to create lasting emotional bonds with your customers. So the best rewards may be an amplification of services you already offer (such as Apple’s free iTunes compilations for Facebook fans) or a peek behind the curtain at your operations—like that walk-on role at NBC for people who comment on and discuss what they’re watching. Whatever type of reward you offer, connecting with customers and gathering useful feedback is the true benefit for your company.
Social media loyalty programs can be longstanding, like the NBC initiative and CNN’s iReporter series. Or, they can be targeted around a specific event or initiative. For example, Gap—whose recent attempt at a logo change was a spectacular failure that lit up social media sites across the Web—would have benefitted from a proactive social media strategy to get consumer input during the logo’s development. Compared to the company’s falling sales and poor stock prices, a little online banter and a $60 pair of khakis for the 1,000th Facebook commenter seems like it would have been a good investment.