Likes, loyalty and rewards.

Brands. Social media. Loyalty. Social media has become essential for companies to manage their reputation – as 89% of global consumers say checking online reviews is part of their buying journey. Engaging and exciting consumers has never been more important, and we believe that loyalty programmes (and the content surrounding them) are some of the best tools to do this. 

In this piece, we’ll explore the opportunities in this space.

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The phenomenon that is social media

The inception of social media has changed life as we know it. It’s impacted the way we communicate, the way we engage with media and, of course, our consumption habits, too. 

Social media has created incredible opportunities for brands also. Stats from datareportal says that from 2023, marketers have gained the capability to reach 1.092 billion users aged 18 and above on Tik Tok.

The opportunity is huge, but so is the nuance. One platform might skew young (such as TikTok). Another might be more visually led (such as Instagram). Each platform has unique formatting potential and distinct demographics – and so a message that resonates on one platform in one format may not extend to others.  Moreover, whilst product-focused brands might use Instagram for their suggested ad content and product tags, another brand could utilise LinkedIn for B2B-focused content and to gain proximity with professionals in their industry. For businesses, a presence on social media should be considered from a strategic point-of-view, so that the right message reaches the right person on the right platform.

It’s fairly simple to create and run a social media account. But companies’ task today is more challenging than that. Brands need to successfully build a social media strategy that not only represents their brand, but also reinforces their image and values – whilst also engaging consumers and driving traffic.

It’s a big task. But many brands still do it well, and we know that social media can be used as a valuable tool for enhancing your brand’s loyalty efforts. 

Integrating social media actions into your brand’s loyalty programme

There’s a great opportunity for brands to use social media as part of their loyalty programmes. Traditionally, brands would reward members for spending, but using these platforms, they can now also reward members for interactions such as liking and commenting on posts, sharing posts, and tagging friends. They can later receive products as rewards as well as special deals and discounts. This is an excellent way to boost customer engagement and expand brand reach. Having rewards not based solely on purchases acts as another outlet to earn, increasing the chances of engagement.

An example of a brand that has done this well is Detour Sunglasses. The sunglasses brand has a system where members can earn points for various social actions like following their Instagram or sharing their posts on Facebook. This has not only encouraged engagement for customers, by providing a simple way to earn points but it also has the power to encourage purchase afterwards due to how easy it is to earn points without having to spend anything to start off with.

Another example can be found in Adidas. Their physical training app, Runtastic, had poor engagement. Then, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand announced in a social media campaign that, for each minute our users worked out, Adidas would donate $1 to the World Health Organization to support health workers. The result was that demand rose by 240% year-over-year for Runtastic.

The takeaway for Adidas was twofold. The first was that purpose-driven marketing really works. The second was that, when fostering loyalty, staying hyper-relevant, and paying attention to what your audience wants, delivers tangible results.

“At Adidas, our apps have been a central strategy for fostering relationships with our most loyal customers, or premium members, over time,” writes Scott Dunlap, VP of mobile at Adidas, in an article on Think with Google. “In fact, when it comes to converting and engaging loyal users, apps win by a factor of three.” 

A personal touch

There’s another benefit to using social media for loyalty and that’s being able to leverage your customers data. Doing this gives you the opportunity personalize the experiences and rewards on offer to suit your different customers.

The feeling of exclusivity through customised offers and even communications can most definitely help your members feel valued and seen and this affinity can help to build loyalty.

Leveraging UGC

When brands receive and post UGC (user generated content) from their community, it gifts them with the ability to turn customers into brand ambassadors. It’s a way to push organic reach and post authentic content that can resonate with your audience a lot more. 37% of consumers trust social media influencers over brands. So, it’s an effective way to prove all the great things about your brand from the perspective of the people who use your products. These efforts can again be rewarded with loyalty points, and this will often further encourage repeat purchases. Customers receive rewards and brands receive more content. So, these efforts work both in the favour of the brand and customer.

A good example of this is American tech company, Go Pro, famous for their small yet high quality action cameras. For people thinking of purchasing said cameras, UGC is incredibly useful in helping that decision as you can see content from other creators. The brand capitalised on this interest by creating the Go Pro awards, a competition whereby Go Pro users can submit photos and videos for the chance to win cash prizes but also recognition by being featured on their social channel. The benefits of this kind of initiative are endless. The content builds brand awareness, whether you follow the creators or the brand, you’re exposed to content from real people using the product. For those creators’, usage is even further encouraged upon receipt of rewards and prizes and it’s likely they’ll continue to use and purchase the latest Go Pro products.

There’s also the opportunity to connect with other creators, through Instagram and Facebook, further creating a sense of belonging and community which encourages engagement and purchase, a win-win for the brand.  

Speaking to your audience

Social listening is a great way to understand your audience and what their preferences are. Last year we spoke to our Voice of the Customer Lead, Michelle Quickfall in a piece titled The customer’s voice. One of the key takeaways from this conversation was the importance of being committed to looking for ways to learn more about your customers, in order to design programmes that will best serve them. And this sometimes includes being on top of trends, social media trends included, to gain a better understanding of what your customers want.

Practical ways of doing this through social media include:

  • Looking at what posts are performing best. 
  • Reading comments to follow the conversation.  
  • Using special days and national holidays as moments to share online.

For brands targeting Gen Z, who often use social media and other online sources for inspiration and research purposes before making purchasing decisions, being present on these platforms and using them to not only listen to your audience but communicate too could be very useful.

There are ample ways to do this in some of the examples we’ve mentioned already such as posting UGC, giving personalised rewards based on data, and using social media to communicate brand values in an actionable, tangible way – as Adidas has done. 

Contests and giveaways

One more way to build excitement for your brand and use the social space to help drive your efforts is through contests and giveaways. They’re a great way to create buzz, to get users posting about your brand (in hopes of winning a prize) and generally building that sense of excitement.

This is one area IAGL has some experience in through our recent Uber Millionaire campaign. Through our partnership with Uber, 4 lucky members received one million Avios. All members had to do to be in with a chance to win was to link their British Airways Executive Club account with their Uber account, and then every Uber journey gave them one entry.

Competitions like these help us as brands to encourage community participation but also grow engagement and excite our members in a new way.

Keeping your consumers close

In another earlier piece we wrote on having humans at the forefront of technological innovations in loyalty (embrace tech, but make it human), we spoke on the value of consumers having someone hands on to talk to when interacting with a brand.

That ease of access and communication with brands you shop from can help to build a good sense of affinity. 2023 data from a recent report says that ‘customers who engage with the brand and participate on social media, for instance, by sharing posts, are much more likely to exhibit loyalty to that brand.’

It's easy to see why this type of relationship could be desirable to consumers in comparison to brand relationships in the past, which could often feel less personal due to the ‘one-way communication channel’. This gives brands a huge opportunity to build affinity. Affinity that can lead to repeat purchase. And repeat purchases can consequently lead to brand loyalty.

By retweeting, liking posts and mentioning users on their X (formerly Twitter) account, Glossier do an excellent job of embracing their community. This has worked incredibly in their favour. 70% of their online sales have come from peer-to-peer referrals. This is a valuable and organic way to build your brand’s loyalty as new consumers are getting recommendations from people they can trust.

Trial and experimentation

When it comes to social media, it’s important to understand what works for your brand and create your social strategy based on that.

More than anything, it’s all about trial and experimentation. Understand what your customers like and don’t like, then use that as a foundation to build your loyalty programme on. After all, customer satisfaction is one of the most direct ways of building customer loyalty. See what works for your audience and refine everything based on that. It’s also important to remember that brands aren’t perfect, you’re bound to make mistakes but what’s important is that you can learn from them and continue to refine your strategy.

If you’d like further advice or guidance on loyalty more generally, then do not hesitate to contact us here.


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