Facebook is Not a Loyalty Program for Brands
By: Adena DeMonte, Director of Marketing, Badgeville
AdAge reporter Jack Neff yesterday posed that brands should think of Facebook as a loyalty program, not a new customer acquisition tool. Research by DDB Worldwide and Opinionway Research finds 84% of a typical brand’s Facebook fans are existing customers. Logically, then, Neff’s argument makes sense, doesn’t it?
The problem is that Facebook pages aren’t designed to benefit the brand.
Facebook brand pages are designed to give Facebook deep insight into your audience, so then you can pay them more to advertise to your existing audience — or, worse, sell that data to your competitors so they can advertise to your brand. That’s not a loyalty program.
“Like” is Not Love
Speaking at a recent Web Analytics talk, Justin Kistner–social media products director of web analytics firm Webtrends–said that many brands with the biggest followings, such as Coke with nearly 34 million fans, are in high-frequency, low-ticket categories where CRM was not an important part of marketing spend.
Now, over 117 brands have at least a million fans, and 40 more are likely going to cross that threshold this year. But what’s a Facebook fan worth?
It turns out, 88 percent of Facebook members never return to a Page once they’ve clicked the “Like” button (according to recent research by BrandGlue). Think about your own interaction with Facebook and your favorite brands — how many brands, even ones you really like, have you spent a meaningful amount of time interacting with once you’ve “liked” them? Unless the brand runs a re-engagement campaign to get you back to the page, chances are, you’re not going back to the page.
Facebook always remains between you and your customer. As my colleague Tony Ventrice, former game designer at Zynga, points out, “your interactions are still limited to slipping coupons through gaps in the fence.”
A real loyalty program is about direct access to your customer, and access to data on that user behavior. Traditional loyalty programs, such as airline frequent flier programs, maintain direct access to their audience at all times — through email marketing, snail mail marketing, and providing offers to customers when interacting with the brand.
On Facebook, or any social network where you can build a brand experience, you lose the opportunity to slip behavior motivational hooks into your customer experience. These important psychological motivators borrowed from the world of game design and traditional loyalty programs are key in turning a one-time user interaction to long-term loyalty and lifetime user value.
Worse, “Like” is no longer reserved for special, meaningful affinity towards a brand — we’re blasted with “Like us” messaging on a daily basis, which reduces the value of a “Like” alone. Don’t get me wrong, getting a brand fan to “Like” your brand on Facebook is a good thing. But it’s not a loyalty program. It’s a small piece in a much larger picture of modern social loyalty that any marketing manager should take into consideration as planning a strategic loyalty program for today’s consumer.
Loyalty Value is Exponentially Higher for Users on Your Own Site
Webtrends reports that visits to the average website of a Fortune 100 company were down 23% last year from a year ago. Fan counts of brands such as Starbucks or Coke are now 10 to 100 times higher than their websites’ monthly unique visitor counts.
What if you could create a meaningful, social experience on your own digital properties? The challenge is, users are spending more and more time on Facebook, and less time on your (brand’s) website and mobile properties.
Ultimately, a successful social loyalty program, requires:
- Full access to your user data including behavior data
- Ability to add in psychological motivators throughout the experience
- Offer multiple meaningful interactions to motivate user loyalty beyond “like”
- Integration into all of your digital properties across web and mobile
- Opportunity to reward mass quantities of users automatically for multiple meaningful interactions with your brand
Gamification encompasses all five of these pieces. While Social Media Marketing Managers are hired specifically to generate large quantities of “likes” for their brand, instead, Social Media Marketers should be tasked to understand the entire SCRM (Social Customer Relationship Management) lifecycle, measuring and motivating every touchpoint in a customer lifecycle from their first contact with your brand and long beyond the time they would click “like” to highlight their interest in maintaining contact with your brand.