Socially Rewarding Your Customers

No matter if you own a small mom-n-pop store, an eStore, or a giant company, having a positive relationship with your customers is paramount for success. And one of the most effective ways to entice new customers and foster loyalty in existing ones is through rewards.

These rewards come in all shapes and sizes and can be physical items or merely virtual pats on the back. Social media and online meeting places are the ideal locations to implement reward programs, because they are where many online users hang out and where visitors can effortlessly share your brand or rewards with their friends.

 Launch a Competition

how can my business be successful on social media

You can find competitions everywhere on the internet — with folks trying to do everything from have the highest number of fans on a comment forum to getting the most stickers, badges, etc. on “check-in” applications. Basically, just about anything can be turned into a game and, quite often, the competition itself is the reward (no actual prizes needed). People enjoy these types of games simply for bragging rights and fun.

You can create your own competitions, but usually (especially for small businesses) it’s easier to adopt a service that’s already established. For example, you could promote your physical store on Foursquare by making it a check-in spot where users can earn badges or points. Or, if you want to offer a “real” prize you can use the check-in feature as a digital loyalty card where customers earn some type of discount after so many visits.

In addition to Foursquare, you may want to consider incorporating similar programs, such as GetGlue and Gowalla.

Content Creation Contest

Another type of competition you can use is content creation. Basically, you ask your followers to create something for you (a blog post, logo, idea, video, title, etc.) and the best submission wins a prize. The prize should be in proportion to the level of work/difficulty you’re asking them to do, so if you have a small budget keep the task simple.

For example, although you may not have a mega-budget like Pringles, you could do something similar to their “Tournament of Flavors” video competition they held last spring. The whole competition was launched and managed on Pringle’s Facebook page where participants were asked to submit “homemade” short, flavor-themed videos. Fans voted on their favorites and the winner, whose video focused on hunting down the elusive “extreme pickle,” earned $12,000 for his efforts (Pringles paid out $45,000 in all).

 You could have a video competition of your own, but because your competition is obviously much easier to win than Pringles, you only need offer a small cash prize or free products to the winner.

On an even smaller scale, you could give a free copy of your upcoming eBook to the person who comes up with the best title for the book, or you could give a special coupon to the person who posts the best picture on your Facebook page.

The possibilities are endless, and even the smallest content competitions can create buzz for your brand.

Online Coupons

how to be successful on social media

Currently, couponing is as popular as ever, but 21st century shoppers aren’t satisfied with just ordinary coupons — they want easily accessible digital coupons, and they want them now. In other words, shoppers expect to look online for a business and discover some type of deal, and if you don’t have anything to offer, they’ll check out your competitor instead.

There are several ways to approach online coupons/discounts:

  • Have a printable coupon directly on your site (for in-store purchases).
  • Offer a discount in exchange for some type of action (e.g. a social “share” or becoming an email subscriber).
  • When someone makes an online purchase, give them a coupon code for a future order.
  • Promote your coupons on Groupon or other coupon services.

The above strategies are useful for rewarding loyal and potential customers; just make sure you market your deals appropriately so shoppers know they exist.

Ask for and Follow Suggestions

A simple yet highly effective way of rewarding customers is asking them what they want and then giving it to them. For instance, you could have a survey on your site where customers submit and vote on what changes they’d like to see from your company (e.g. a new flavor, new function on website, a different coupon, easier ordering system, etc.) You can even offer a special reward to those who submit the best suggestions. But ultimately, everybody wins with this plan, as customers are given a better product or experience and you have happier customers.

A great example of a business doing this correctly is Starbucks. Through its My Starbucks Ideas website, customers can submit a suggestion and other customers vote, share, and discuss the proposal. Then, Starbucks does its best to implement the most popular submissions, and even alerts users when the changes have gone in effect across Starbuck stores. This is a great way to boost loyalty as it’s apparent to customers their opinions matter.

Say Thank You!

Above all, the easiest way to reward your customers is by saying thanks. In a world where consumers increasingly feel like large corporations care nothing for the “little guy,” taking the time to show your appreciation can go a long way. Although saying thanks for no reason is nice, remember to always show your gratitude when:

  • Someone makes a purchase
  • Offers a suggestion (whether you use it or not)
  • Makes a particularly beneficial comment
  • Asks a question
  • Follows your social page
  • Joins your email list
  • Refers a friend
  • And more

To really win over your current customers, consider rewarding them with coupons or other prizes on their birthday or at out-of-the blue times — everyone loves a surprise.

Great Content, Every Day

How to engague socially

Probably the best way to reward your loyal social and website followers is by giving them quality content on a regular basis.  Just by taking the time to visit your pages, they should be rewarded with something interesting, helpful, or entertaining. In the end, this is what’s going to keep them coming back for more — day in and day out. Contests, promotions, competitions, and the like are icing on the cake, which can make your brand more valuable to consumers but only after you have a solid foundation of relevant content.


What type of customer rewards do you think are most useful?