Want Customer Loyalty? Sell Stock in Your Company Through Facebook

The true test of customer loyalty is the repeat purchase, right? The folks who keep coming back and feeding your top line are those who mean the most to your company, or so the conventional wisdom goes. Well, it looks like that’s about to change. Nothing says “I love you” quite like taking a personal stake in a company’s success. And, the latest from IR magazine shows one company that’s helping businesses enter this market … using Facebook.

Loyal3, a San Francisco-based startup, is entering the customer stock ownership program (CSOP) market. A public company can work with Loyal3 to sell its stock directly to the investing public, making it easy for them to show the highest degree of brand loyalty. Already, Loyal3 is partnering with NASDAQ OMX to reach the exchange’s collection of listed companies.

What’s particularly interesting about Loyal3 is how “investomers” can buy the stock:

Investors can access a CSOP through a company’s website or Loyal3’s site, signing up and buying stock in just three clicks. The main route, though, could be through a Facebook app on the issuer’s Facebook page. One of the most interesting pick-ups this week was a blog post by David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook effect. He writes that a CSOP could help Facebook itself bypass Wall Street’s short-termism when it eventually goes public, by building a shareholder base of keen Facebook users.

The best part, for investors at least, is the ability to bypass pesky commissions. IR magazine continues:

From consumers’ perspective, Loyal3, which is technically a transfer agent, lets them buy and sell without any transaction cost. Instead, issuers will pay Loyal3 $10 to $30 a year for each customer that becomes a shareholder. Plus, investors could put in as little as $10, even if that means buying a fraction of a share, and companies could give away shares as loyalty rewards.

So, think about it: there’s a company you really like. You believe in it. You consume its products regularly. There’s a good chance the company is doing something right if you’re that loyal. Maybe it’s time to deepen your relationship with it, and take a piece of the action! The way Loyal3 is going, owning a bit of your favorite company won’t take much more effort than a status update.

For businesses, this could be a new way to build up a strong base of retail investors without an intense amount of headache. Nothing says “loyalty” quite like owning the place.

All this makes me wonder, of course, about whether it’s possible to use a service like Loyal3 for more effective marketing. Would customers – “investomers” – who buy stock in a company be likely to increase their consumer relationships with it, as well? It would be interesting to see whether selling stock through a Facebook app increases traditional transactions as well … ultimately leading to a virtuous cycle of invest-and-spend.

So, what do you think? Would you buy stock directly from a company through Facebook? Would it make you a more active customer at the same time? Leave a comment to kick off the discussion!