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How Social are Loyalty Marketers?

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How Social are Loyalty Marketers?
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One thing that I have learned about social media marketing over the past 4 years is that it is tough to become effective using the medium without being a participant.

Looking from the outside – in, the thought of how to use 140 characters to communicate with “followers” is perplexing. Posting your personal thoughts and informing the world of your daily doings on a Facebook page or other social network can seem like sleeping with your curtains open.

The Loyalty Marketing industry is steeped in tradition, meaning we have a generation of Boomers who have created rewards programs for Boomers within a reasonably tight range of options. Earning points or miles based on spend or stays and redeeming those points for cash, gift cards, merchandise, or travel is the standard issue rewards model.

It’s worked for a long while, though customer engagement levels are flagging. The new breed of consumer who is digitally connected is making pre-purchase decisions based on interactions in social networks and other digital channels. If we don’t take steps to meet the consumer where they are gathering information and forming opinions, our offer of points/miles/whatever might be presented too late in the game to interest any but the cherry-pickers.

Given that learning by doing is the premise for success in digital marketing, I conducted a survey of the Top 30 loyalty solutions providers in North America to see how much “doing” is taking place. Here’s what I found:

  • 54% of companies have a Facebook page, though only 18% have a Fan base of 100 or more
  • 75% have a Twitter account, though only 18% carry a Klout score of 40 or greater
  • Looking at the executives who are leading these firms, I found 43% with Twitter accounts in their name with and 29% registering regular activity and 100 tweets or more

The results have improved from a similar survey I took at the first Loyalty Expo about 4 years ago, but have a long way to go to demonstrate that Loyalty Marketers take social media marketing seriously.

Announcements of new products and tools to engage, reward, and recognize the new consumer are made daily. Some companies I have heard from say they have developed tools in-house, and I’m sure there will be a slate of DIY’ers among the crowd. For the broader market, a sensible and easier short term path to social media fluency will be found through partnership, purchase, or licensing of technologies developed by third parties.

The fact that your CEO doesn’t tweet is not the end of the line. Social media interaction takes effort and time that most CEO’s just don’t have. Hiring to meet this need or outsourcing the bevy of tasks to create an online presence are both viable options.

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