How many business reward cards do you have in your wallet? Mine is bulging. Every restaurant and coffee shop has one. Most retailers have jumped on the reward points band wagon in some form. But how can you use those reward cards to build an army of fans that will sing your praises in social media?

By now, everyone who reads my blog knows that social media done well can increase your fan loyalty quotient and help raise an army of advocates for your brand. That loyal group will help bolster your reputation and protect you from a negative online event, in addition to getting friends to use your product. Why not combine the two forces of something you already have—social media and loyalty cards—and start building your advocate army today?social media loyalty oath

  1. Offer your loyalty card holders membership in an exclusive club of brand friends. In the book Brand Advocates, Rob Fugetta writes about Rubio’s raving fans program. How do they do it? By inviting fans to join an exclusive program where Rubio’s not only gives them special offers from time to time, but also lets them share those offers with friends, write reviews on the Rubio’s website, and become involved in product launches.  Rubio’s found a way to turn their satisfied customers into advocates, and you can too. You can check out their story in this Zuberance webinar replay.
  2. Involve your best customers in a feedback loop. Have you ever wanted to know what people thought of your product experience, but those little response cards just don’t give you the input you need? Why not develop a group of your best customers to be your sounding board? You can recruit them through your social media channels and through your storefront. Give the group a name that identifies them with your brand. Send them exclusive email offers—early access to store specials, offers they can share with others. But most importantly, ask for their input.You can do this by offering email surveys or in-person focus groups. Give them invitations to write specific customer experience evaluations for you. Bounce your marketing ideas off the group, and ask them about products they’d like to see. Research shows that most advocates aren't motivated by monetary compensation. People are motivated by spreading the word to others. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point? Find your connectors, mavens, and salespeople and empower them to do what they love best.
  3. Use your loyal customers to populate your social media channels with engaging contentThe trust factor of traditional advertising is low compared to recommendations from friends. Why not empower your advocates to be your social media agents? You can develop a core group of guest bloggers, have a photo gallery of satisfied customers using your products, do thank-you videos for your customers, develop a forum where brand advocates can answer questions about how to use your products. The possibilities are endless here. The underlying key is to develop share-worthy content and offer opportunities for your loyal customers to develop content as well.

If you have a loyalty cards or rewards system for your brand, why not kick it up a notch? Have you got some pointers on how to expand the use of loyalty cards? Please share in the comments.