When planning a sound marketing strategy, the cornerstone of your efforts in the digital sphere is referral marketing.
Social networks are some of the most lucrative marketing and sales platforms for B2B and B2C companies alike, which is why referral marketing on social media plays a significant role in your conversion and customer retention plan.
Read on to learn more about how to incorporate referral marketing into your social media campaigns to increase lead generation and efficiently nurture leads toward conversion and brand loyalty.
The Basics of Referral Marketing
Nearly all companies worldwide rely on social media as a marketing tool. In fact, many customers and potential clients may perceive a company as less dependable or uninventive if it doesn’t advertise itself through social media platforms. Consequently, due to the impact of social media and the simplicity of referral marketing, both have become very popular and successful ways to advertise a business.
Social media referral marketing is the process of getting qualified customers to promote your business on their social media profiles to either increase your website traffic or simply raise brand awareness. This kind of marketing is based on the simple premise that good word about good businesses travels quickly, especially on the internet.
There is no doubt that developing a favorable brand image and an excellent customer experience can only prove advantageous for your business. Focusing your efforts on referral marketing through social media means taking deliberate steps to boost your brand’s online reputation.
Satisfied consumers are often inclined to refer your brand to their friends and family, both on and offline, which brings in new business; however, this doesn’t always happen automatically. There are many smart ways you can initiate, facilitate, and bolster your referral marketing outcomes.
B2B referrals are a cornerstone of business growth, where companies rely on recommendations and endorsements from existing clients or partners to acquire new customers. These referrals build trust, streamline the sales process, and foster mutually beneficial relationships within the business-to-business sector.
It is therefore important to make a distinction between organic referral marketing and strategic referral marketing. The former can (and should!) happen on its own—you cultivate it through stellar customer service and products—whereas the latter is done by designing a referral program that your customers sign up for and participate in. In this article, we will cover the benefits of both methods and provide tips on how to utilize them as part of your marketing plan.
Why Do Referral Marketing?
Here are some additional reasons to invest in referral marketing on social media.
- Organic audience outreach. Your current customer base already uses social networks to share their needs, hobbies, and values; many of these values are likely to be similar to those of their friends and family members whom they interact with using these same social networks. This means free advertising to their social media followers if they choose to spread the word about your brand. When social media is incorporated into your referral campaign, it is much simpler for happy customers to recommend your business to others. You could be able to reach hundreds or thousands of new clients at once if one of your current customers signs up for your referral program and posts about your brand on their profile.
- Ideal customer profiles. As stated above, your current customers are already using social media to post about the things they enjoy. Therefore, when posting about your brand on social media, existing customers are effectively engaging with a plethora of new potential customers who might also be looking for the kinds of products or services that your business offers. This sort of user-generated content allows you to reach more of your ideal customer profiles organically and consistently.
- Trustworthy reputation. People place a lot more trust in their friends’ recommendations than in advertisements and messaging coming directly from brands, especially in informal settings like social media exchanges. Indeed, customers that your brand is recommended to are more likely to look into your company and make a purchase, and also tend to stick around more and stay loyal to your brand.
Incentivize Your Customers to Create Referrals
Content creation culture is thriving everywhere online, meaning that more and more regular people are now taking up the role of content creators on social media, from more conventional platforms like Facebook and Twitter to the more recent ones like TikTok. Your business can take advantage of this movement by motivating people to start producing content to boost awareness of your brand.
Keep in mind that this kind of online culture is different from influencer culture, i.e. professional content creators who are paid to promote a brand through their social media channels. In contrast to influencers, harnessing the power of the creative economy among regular internet users entails motivating them to interact with and share your posts, publish their own unique content about your products or services, and discuss your business with other users using private messages.
How to Motivate Customers to Become Advocates
In order to achieve the effects we’ve listed above, you may implement some of the following strategies:
- Follow up with a customer after a successful sale
- Provide a short questionnaire to gain a better understanding of their experience with your brand, and use their answers to improve your future strategy
- Ask them to write a review and/or tag your brand in a social media post
- Ask them to post a photo or video of them using your product (which could later be used as photo or video material for social media marketing, with their permission)
- Encourage them to start a conversation under a social media post of yours
Motivating satisfied customers to spread the word about your brand promotes organic referral marketing on your social media networks over time with consistency.
Create a Win-Win Referral Program
A general recommendation for a good referral program is to provide double-sided benefits, i.e. including some sort of perk for both the referrer and the new customer who registers or makes a purchase through the referrer. This kind of “win-win” system has the added effect of motivating your existing customers to refer as many new people as possible by rewarding them for their recommendations.
Get creative with your reward system! Special perks for advocates typically include discounted items or being included in a special brand advocate mailing list so they are the first to know about new and exciting offers.
Providing new users with their own reward for signing up and/or making a purchase prevents referral program postings from seeming overly self-serving. If you provide the referred buddy a prize (such as a discount or coupon code), it increases the possibility that more individuals will click on the referral message and ultimately become your new customers.
Remember that the backdrop to onboarding a new customer should be a simple and easy sign-up process; your conversion rate will not increase if new users are forced to solve riddles or go through a convoluted registration process to redeem their referral reward.
Adjust Your Tactic According to the Platform
When designing the ideal referral program for your brand, think about meeting your customers where they are. Which social media sites do they use the most to engage with their friends or family? Once you have the answer for your particular target audience, include social sharing buttons or widgets on those websites, as well as a link to your referral program in your brand’s profile bio.
The above method contributes to building your brand’s visibility on websites that your target market frequents; however, be sure to include as many other social media platforms in your program as you can so your customers can opt for the one that is most convenient for them. Your referral program should ideally invite and encourage customers to become advocates on the network of their choosing (in exchange for the kinds of rewards we’ve written about above).
Adjusting the Format and Tone of Voice
The format of your referral marketing should vary depending on the social media platforms you use. A practical tip is to avoid the same generic message and design for every platform—instead, edit your referral message (the one that advocates send to their friends, for example) so it resembles other kinds of posts that are common for each respective platform. Feel free to play around with this as much as you want—for example, as part of your content strategy, create animated explainer videos for posting on social media platforms that your brand advocates can link to or repost.
Above all, make sure that your referral message reads genuine and not like an advertisement (for example, “You’ll have a hard time getting me out of bed in the morning once I’m in my [brand name] PJ’s!”). This is especially important for Facebook and Twitter, where user feeds tend to be oversaturated with sponsored posts — no one wants to see cliche marketing lingo in their friend’s recommendation posts. On the other hand, sites like Instagram and Pinterest are image-centric, and require a short and snappy message to accompany a captivating image.
Focus on Effectively Promoting Your Referral Program
Effective promotion of your referral program on social media is essential. After all, that is where your customers already search for information about your company and products. A good rule of thumb is to advertise the program at least once a month. By doing this, you remind your customers who want to participate in the referral program (but might have forgotten about it) to share and grow your outreach organically.
When posting about your program, be sure to draw attention to the referral bonus with compelling images (you can find some great poster templates online, for instance) and include a direct link to the referral program’s page on your website so that it can be easily shared. As with all digital campaigns, include engaging messaging that speaks to your type of audience.
Ultimately, given that social media platforms serve as the voice of your company, you should never pass up a chance to advertise your products and services in addition to your referral program. For example, a potential customer may discover your company for the first time after randomly reading a tweet about it, or a past client is reminded of your company and expresses interest once more after seeing your brand’s logo on Facebook.
Utilizing social media boosts your chances of getting recognized and will help you get to know your current customer base better, while also sparking the interest of potential new customers.
Optimize Your Multichannel Marketing Strategy
Creating multiple marketing strategies for a company that is represented on multiple social media channels is very resource-consuming.
Creating a solid multichannel marketing strategy helps you not only save time and money but also ensures your campaigns are consistent and target the right audiences on each channel.
Once you have established your campaign design and goals, work to optimize its implementation. Interacting with consumers and analyzing the stats is the core of a successful marketing campaign that, when neglected, causes all your efforts to be in vain.
By using the right social media marketing tools, you can automate certain processes and track the results of your ads. You can also monitor how your brand image is developing and if your referral program is generating buzz.
Keep Testing and Measure Progress
All too frequently, businesses believe that their sole referral marketing strategy should be to provide excellent service to clients or customers and then wait for the referral business to begin pouring in. Of course, this kind of strategy can be effective, but has its limitations.
Using social media referral marketing is all about taking chances and occasionally going against the grain. Continuously conducting A/B testing will enable you to collect reliable data on what is most effective at capturing the attention of your target audiences. The great thing about social media is that this kind of data collection and testing is possible in real time, giving you the opportunity to adjust your referral marketing strategy on the fly.
Final Thoughts — Value Comes First
Producing great value and customer service are two key factors in converting a customer into a brand advocate. If you can’t provide excellent service and value, not many people will feel inclined to promote your brand or company, regardless of how tempting your referral program might be.
Customers, both new and old, must be able to clearly distinguish between the quality of your service and that of your rivals in the market. In order for anyone to vouch for your brand, they must have faith in your ability to provide the same kind of value consistently to other people.
Always be mindful that outstanding customer experience, aside from delivering great products and services, is absolutely essential. Even if someone loves using your products or services, they will be less motivated to recommend you to others if they don’t enjoy doing business with you.
We hope that the tips laid out in this article will equip you to engage in successful referral marketing on social media!