The Next & Arguably Most Important Phase of Social is Loyalty

Social loyalty is the ultimate delivery mechanism for a tailored brand experience, allowing the consumer to control activation and interconnectedness, providing the brand with an ideal mechanism to reward, surprise and delight.

Facebook recently celebrated its 11th birthday and in those 11 years, a lot has changed. Marketers have learned that social is a great way to reach large audiences, especially with its terrific segmenting and targeting capabilities. And, much more so than traditional marketing strategies like TV advertising, social offers the ability to track and measure. In 11 short years, the industry has evolved from building their social presence to listening, and from there to advertising and real-time marketing.

During this time, consumers have changed, too, becoming savvier, more mobile and raising the bar on their expectations. To meet and deliver on these expectations, the next (and arguably most important from a business perspective) phase of social media is loyalty.

Social is a Consumer Channel

We’ve all heard the analogy that social media is like a party, not a shopping mall, where brands that show up need to be entertaining and genuine while being part of the ‘scene.’ Yet, at the end of the day, social media is a consumer channel — not a business channel — with people there to interact with one another, not hang out with brands — try as we might to engage them with cute chat about Oreos and dresses.

That’s not to say that all the listening, advertising brands have done on social to date are for naught – they are indeed important building blocks and as an industry we’ve learned a lot from our time hanging out on social with consumers. However, it’s time to move past these phases and ask ourselves, ‘what measurable impact has this had on the business?’ Arguably little. Brands are having difficulty even quantifying it!  Only 15 percent of marketers report their companies can show the impact of social media using quantitative approaches.

For these reasons and more, now is the time to take those building blocks and create something of measurable benefit – loyalty.

Why Social-Loyalty?

While early marketers fell in love with the reach and power of social media, these virtues are the foundation of a great social loyalty program.  By linking a customer’s social profile with an offline profile that exists in a CRM, for example, businesses can create a virtuous cycle of planning, measurement and improvement driven by data and personalization.

With a 360-degree view of customers in hand, brands are able to get to know their customers in a more meaningful way that will allow them to truly personalize messages, offers and rewards. Now, before you begin to think this is a creepy overstep of today’s technology, consider that consumers actually want personalization and offers that match their spending patterns. According to research by MyBuys, half of consumers want their personal information used to coordinate a better overall shopping experiences and three-fourths are willing to share store purchase data for personalization purposes.

Consumers are tired of having untimely, irrelevant messages sprayed at them and frankly view spray and pray programs as lazy. Much has been written about the growing delta between consumer expectation and most brand’s ability to deliver, with personalization one key area driving the divide.

Linked to mobile, CRM, and other business and data silos, social loyalty offers the utility consumers desire while giving business the ability to offer holistic, personalized customer experience(s).

Social Loyalty Gives Consumers Control

Social loyalty gives consumers what they have wanted for some time: marketing as a utility. It has the ability to turn mobile into the smartphone remote control consumers desire for delivery, consumption and reward. The opposite of spray and pray, personalization is a the center of utility marketing, providing consumers with the right message, at the right time via a mechanism that allows for instant activation and/or fulfillment.

Social loyalty is the ultimate delivery mechanism for a tailored brand experience, allowing the consumer to control activation and interconnectedness, providing the brand with an ideal mechanism to reward, surprise and delight. Using hashtags and other social and mobile triggers consumers can interact with brands, receive rewards, and share their experiences with their friends.

Social loyalty enables technology to deliver on consumer expectations in a new age. As social media evolves and transforms, brands need to do the same, realizing the measurable benefits social media can have both for the business and in building mutually beneficial marketing relationships with today’s savvy consumer who understands that the marketing equation has flipped to favor them in what is no longer a one-to-many world, but a one-to-one-to-many, consumer driven marketplace.

Chris Teso is the CEO of Chirpify, a mobile and social customer loyalty platform.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.