How Social Media Referral Marketing can Build Your Brand
Business leaders in all sectors and industries need to explore all avenues for effective marketing and sales, and that doesn’t just mean building an omnichannel strategy. Sure, engaging with customers across all online and offline touchpoints is very important, but that’s just one piece of the marketing-sales puzzle.
Another, equally important piece is figuring out the best methods to use to generate leads and nurture them towards conversion and retention. Whether you’re in B2C or B2B, there’s no denying that cultivating a positive brand image and customer experience is bound to benefit your business. But what if you made an organized effort to maximize the potential of your online reputation?
What if you focused on monetizing customer satisfaction through referral marketing? Good news about good brands travel fast, especially on social channels, so here are the best practices you can use to combine referral marketing and social media to take your brand forward in 2022 and beyond.
1. The importance of having the right tools
Whether you’re new to digital marketing or if you’re been steadily investing in it over the years, you probably know by now that cultivating a positive brand experience pays off. Satisfied customers will tell their friends and family about your amazing brand, they will gladly recommend you online and offline, and they will drive new business your way.
But this won’t always happen passively, and if you don’t capitalize on that amazing experience, you’ll be wasting some of that conversion potential. That said, referral marketing can be a costly investment if you try to do it manually.
Creating referral campaigns, getting people to sign up, tracking performance and more - all of this is expensive and time-consuming. That’s why our first tip is to invest in the right referral marketing software right off the bat, before you start implementing the various referral marketing methods we’ll be walking about today.
Remember, a good, comprehensive tool can save you a lot of time and money no matter if you’re doing email marketing, pushing paid ads, or anything in between.
2. Building brand loyalty and trust
Referral marketing does not work if your customers are not engaged. You can’t drive sales on social media through referrals if your customers aren’t happy and truly invested in your brand. You can have the best deals, discounts, and incentives on the market, but if you don’t have a memorable brand identity and if you don’t ensure a positive brand experience, people are not going to recommend your products or services to others. It’s as simple as that.
With that in mind, one of your goals should be to build a trustworthy brand image on social media, and to build brand loyalty among your followers and existing customers. This will also help with long-term customer retention and will open up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
To build loyalty on social media, make sure to:
Share positive feedback and highlight success stories
Post regularly and focus on factual, quality information
Engage your audience in your posts
Be super responsive publicly as well as in the DMs
Partner with influencers who share your values and have a positive brand image
Weave your values into your messaging, posts, and conversations
Acknowledge your customers with thank-you messages and shout-outs
Ask people to share their positive experience and tag you in their posts
3. Build and leverage social proof
Social proof is when people copy the actions of others, inspired by their positive experience, in order to achieve a certain goal. It doesn't have anything to do with social media, but can be a powerful way to boost your social media efforts, specifically when it comes to acquiring new customers.
Social proof is a part of marketing psychology, and brands can use various tactics to inspire people at the top of the funnel to start considering a purchase more seriously, and nudge the ones in the pre-purchase stage to make the decision to buy. So, how do you build social proof for your brand?
First, it’s important to remember that you should build social proof not only on social channels, but also on your website, forums, search engines, and other authority websites around the web. And to do that for effective social media marketing and customer acquisition, make sure to:
Post positive reviews on your social accounts
Gather positive reviews on your site and third-party review platforms
Add a social proof tool to your website
Highlight your best-performing products and their numbers
Again, reach out to micro-influencers that are relevant to your brand
Create surveys and share the findings with your social audience
When potential customers start seeing positive reviews, stories, and numbers from others, they will be more secure in their decision to buy.
4. Empower your customers to be creators
The “creator culture” is in full swing across the online world, and especially on social networks. From the OG social media like Facebook and Twitter, to the newer ones like TikTok, people are nowadays taking on the role of creators. And you can use that to your advantage, and inspire them to start creating for the purpose of promoting your brand.
Keep in mind, this new creator economy is not the same as the influencer economy. Influencers are people you pay to promote and talk about your brand, while the leveraging the creator economy means inspiring people around social media to:
Share and interact with your posts
Talk about their experience with your brand
Share their own, original content about your products or services
Reach out to others privately to talk about your brand
To do this, you can:
Follow up with customers after a purchase
Gather brand sentiment through surveys
Ask them for a positive review or a shout-out
Ask them to take a short video or photo using your product
Tag past customers in your posts and start a conversation
With consistency and in time, this will drive organic referral marketing on your social channels and inspire people to share the good word of your brand.
5. Nurture and convert your referrals
The people who are reaching out as referrals are not always ready to buy. Sometimes, people will come to you with genuine interest and sometimes they will be ready to make a purchase. Other times, people will come to you to find out more about your offer but without any intention of buying anything.
This is why you need to nurture your referrals to conversion with personalized, data-driven content, but also engaging storytelling and compelling messaging. Some of the best tips to present to your potential customers effectively include:
Understand their position in the customer journey
Have a unique brand tone of voice
Have unique brand visuals
Reach out with personalized messaging in the DMs
Link specialized landing pages with your messages
Include incentives for first-time buyers
Tease benefits and perks for loyal brand followers
Always remember that the end goal is not just to convert a new referral, but to keep them around for the long haul. The way to maximize their lifetime value and keep them at your side is to start focusing on brand loyalty from the start.
6. Convey a humanized brand image and story
Effective branding is essential for referral marketing, and that goes for all channels, including social media. In the oversaturated social media world, however, the most successful brands are the ones that stand out with their unique personality and a humanized image, unlike the ones that fit into the crowd with their bland, corporate identity.
People want to recommend humanized brands to their family and friends, and will typically refrain from overly corporate brands simply because the image of the brand reflects their own image. In other words, people see brand’s as a reflection of themselves and their choices - and they want to present themselves in the best possible light.
That’s why it’s important to create a human connection through social media by moving away from the corporate and embracing the human elements of your brand. Leverage your employees and their personal brands to promote your business, and use your unique tone of voice to establish meaningful connections with your followers.
7. Be the educator and open referral opportunities
Focusing on audience education is a great way to build brand trust and authority, but also to boost referral marketing. By being an educator in your industry and posting educational content regularly on your social channels, you can inspire existing customers to recommend you to their peers, but you can also ask for direct referrals through your educational content.
There are many ways to become an educator in your industry, as you can kick-start online coaching on all social networks, conduct webinars and various live events to boost engagement, and more. For static educational content, you can post blogs on your social feeds, infographics, whitepapers, and other types of educational materials.
To boost referral marketing through all of these content types, it’s important to have incentives for referrals, such as when you get a new webinar attendee through an existing customer. This is how you’ll generate qualified leads that you can continue to nurture to conversion.
8. Capitalize on referrals through stellar customer service
When people start reaching out in the DMs as referrals, you want your customer service experts to be ready to kick-start the conversation and guide them through your social media funnel towards conversion. The importance of trained customer service agents cannot be overstated, as you need them not only to convert customers, but to up-sell and cross-sell where possible.
You can also use AI-driven tech to help you with 24/7 availability on social media, and you can integrate an AI chatbot that will greet new customers, answer their questions, and even help them select the best products for their needs. A chatbot that improves over time is also able to recommend relevant complementary products, or offer better products to customers based on their interests and browsing history.
9. Implement referral marketing into different social platforms
Lastly, always remember that your referral marketing strategy should differ between social platforms, and that it should fit the unique marketing strategies you have for each. That means that you need to optimize these tips for your TikTok strategy and other video-based platforms differently than you would for Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn.
Every social platform is different in terms of audience composition and preferences, so it’s important to adapt your approach according to what people want to see on each social network. Research your audiences on different networks, and use that data to fine-tune your approach for successful referral marketing on each.
Referral marketing should be one of the key pillars of your digital marketing strategy, but also an important part of your conversion and retention strategies, as well. Given the fact that social networks can be some of the most lucrative marketing and sales channels for B2B and B2C businesses alike, referral marketing is one of the best ways to complement and boost your social media efforts.
With all of that in mind, go ahead and implement these referral marketing tips into your social media strategy to generate more leads and nurture them effectively towards conversion and brand loyalty.