Written by Amanda Gilmour and Katie Zupancic

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. Brand loyalists spread their favorite company or product’s messages to others with passion and dedication. In today’s day and age, social media has transformed word of mouth marketing. Users share, re-tweet, and re-post their favorite brand’s digital content that they find engaging and relevant to those in their social circle. Brands succeed on social media when they can capitalize on this brand loyalty in an authentic, rewarding way.

In order to arm our brand loyalists with sharable content representing the mission, goals, and tone of our event, we recently launched a social media loyalty program. This reward loyalty program serves as a catalyst for our super fans to engage with our brand’s content and to share our message with people in their own networks. In return for engaging in the program, members are rewarded with virtual badges or actual prizes that adjust monthly.

Curious for tips on how to create an engaging, strong, and fun loyalty program to reach your goals?

Your team can create hundreds of graphics, videos, blogs, white papers, essays, photos, infographics or recordings. However, if the social content doesn’t appeal to your users, sharing won’t happen, regardless of how great the prizes are. Tap into the psychology of your user – in terms of event marketing, are they sharing your content because they are driven by your mission? Perhaps they are a team captain looking for tools to grow their team or just want to spread the word about an event they enjoyed attending in the past. Regardless, make sure you are creating content that engages your audiences, segmenting it if possible, to send them the most targeted messaging possible.

Offer PRIZES people want to win.
You may have 500 extra branded pens laying around the office from your event last year, but will pens incentivize your program members to share? Make an investment in prizes to ensure you’re creating a desire to win. Market those prizes to users to show them why they should share. Prize information is also a great way to convince potential users to sign up for the program.

Pushing RECRUITMENT is key to success.
You may have great content and strong prizes, but if you don’t have any members in the program, you’ll never grow your reach. Invite potential members through social media and ecommunications, and use personal outreach to already engaged users. A soft launch to staff is also a great way to kick off the program (and to make sure that you work any kinks out before launching to a wider audience).

Double check your LEGAL language.
Whenever prizes are involved, make sure to run the language past your legal team to make sure they’re on board with the terms and conditions of the promotion. It’s much better to be cautious on the front end. Putting together a thorough list of rules and terms and conditions to be approved by your legal team is a better idea than trying to solve a legal concern after the promotion has launched.

Keep a CALENDAR to organize content.
By setting up a thematic calendar, you can organize campaigns and a messaging order to your users. This helps you map out what kind of content you need to be creating and helps you stay organized as you continue to build out the program. It will also help you easily refer back to any content that proved to be especially engaging.

When you make the decision to begin a social media loyalty program, keeping these tips in mind will ensure that you’ll get a strong start toward your goals. Optimizing content for an audience you know is already interested in your brand will increase reach and engagement rates and help you transform your regular followers into brand loyalists. These loyalists will spread your messages via guided word-of-mouth marketing to their own networks and will continue to recruit others to interact with your content and brand.

Amanda and Katie work on marketing for MuckFest® MS, the FUN mud run in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. Both live in Chicago, where Amanda enjoys the comedy scene and Katie loves exploring new neighborhoods. Connect with Amanda here: LinkedIn. Connect with Katie here: LinkedInTwitter.

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