Loyalty Goes Social

by Dr. David Cox

The concept of Social Loyalty has been growing over the last five years, but we predict that 2016 is the year when it will truly take off in terms of our clients.

The first steps were taken when loyalty and channel incentive programs began creating profiles and pages on Facebook and LinkedIn for participants to follow and ‘like’. Know Your IBM’s Facebook page for example already has over 2,000 ‘likes’.

Initially many companies and incentive agencies avoided this effective medium, as they felt they could not “control” the communication or feedback. Gradually they began to realise that participants and customers will set up their own unofficial Facebook and social media forums to discuss aspects of your loyalty program, product or service.  As a result many companies now realise that it’s is better to be part of the conversation with a chance to participate than be left out.

Today’s leading programs have expanded beyond a presence on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and have built internal collaboration and exchange through communities within the construct of the program via general chat rooms, live chat, rating and feedback mechanisms and special interest forums.

One of the latest innovations has been to embrace Social Badging using the Open Badge platform. This platform allows companies who operate loyalty and incentive programs to issue ‘badges’ for résumé-worthy achievements such as sales performance, skills development and collaboration.

These badges can then be shared and displayed via a participant’s social media presence such as LinkedIn or Facebook thus extending the footprint of the loyalty program and harnessing recognition from a wider audience – friends, family, colleagues and prospective employers can see their success.  Further, these badges can also be used to earn accelerator or bonus points as well as a proxy for status tiers within a program.

In programs where Motivforce has deployed this concept, we have seen a dramatic increase in participant performance and a return on investment.

Social media is one of the most absorbing tasks that individuals undertake on a daily basis. Indeed for Millennials, their life is built around their social media habits. Thus savvy program designers are looking to leverage this existing infrastructure to drive their own programs.

In an age where clients are talking about the need to increase engagement with program participants, the fusion of social loyalty with existing tools such as effective communications and the right reward mix, is proving to be a powerful combination.