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Social as a Driver of Loyalty

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This article by Vandana U, Editor, STQ, was published in issue 06 of the STQ. …

This article by Vandana U, Editor, STQ, was published in issue 06 of the STQ.
Summary: Brands are going social with the right mix of communications technology and consumer values. Social is a catalyst that is driving unprecedented loyalty, built not at one stage but across various stages and elements of the shopping process.
Read more such articles at http://stq.kuliza.com

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  • 1. Brands are going social with the rightmix of communications technology andconsumer values. Social is a catalyst thatis driving unprecedented loyalty, builtnot at one stage but across various stagesand elements of the shopping process.by Vandana U.Photo Credit: zion fictionSocial as aDriver ofLoyalty
  • 2. In the age of social commerce, where traditional e-commerce is nomore even a nomenclature, loyalty seems to spell a new pattern withnew trends. With several factors determining shopping- ranging frombest prices, proximity, recommendations, to mood-swings even; it isnecessary to understand not only how loyalty and social commercego hand in hand but understand how social is a driver of loyalty. Itgoes without saying that shopping has always been a social activity. Alot of definitions place social commerce under the huge umbrella termof e-commerce. Currently, as defined by Renata Gonçalves Curty andPing Zhang, “Social commerce is broadly considered to encompasscommerce activities mediated by social media where people docommerce or intentionally explore commerce opportunities byparticipating and/or engaging in a collaborative online environment.”To the process of buying and selling online, social adds layers ofconversations and interactions between consumers, communities,and businesses. These conversations are the new points-of-sales.Businesses are leveraging social, making it highly integrated andhighly relevant to see new growth. The assumption is obvious: ifsocial elements are necessary to drive in engagement, they are vitalto driving loyalty too.Being SocialThe ontology of online commerce now is social as the smart-technology-driven buyer is no longer merely a buyer nor is passive.The buyer today is socially nourished through elements such assharing, likes, conversations, reviews, and interests. The use of socialCampaigns
  • 3. Kulizanetwork serves social interaction and encourages user contributionthroughout the purchase process - right from research to activitiesfor post the purchase. There is a sure transfer of power becauseadvertising alone would not generate that much needed buzz.Whether one terms it ‘social’, ‘viral’ or calls it ‘word of mouth,’ sharingis an unstoppable activity.A brand that goes ‘social’ brings in the elements that revolve around acustomer not only in a terms of being a part of the ‘target’ market butinclude the entire social world of the shopper. Interests, behaviours,shopping patterns, activities of the shopper and that of the shopper’sfriend circle are all roped in. Customers have varied and new waysto research, compare, evaluate, purchase, and provide feedback onproducts and services. The agenda of engaging a shopper personallydoes not mean providing attention alone, but making sure anythingthe person needs, would like, and would want help, guidance fromare all available. The superlative bit of it is that it is effortless forthe shopper. After such a shopping experience the brand becomesthe sought-after destination. It is these brands that, irrespective ofwhether they have the product the customer is looking for, will berelied on and people will be loyal to.Elements of SocialA typical purchasing process begins with awareness- about a brand,its utility, etc, moving on to being interested in the product and finallypurchasing it. Radically working out commerce includes layers ofsocial in each of the stages in the process. There are different aspectson which businesses are creating conversations. Consumers mayend up finding themselves in situations, unable to make purchasedecisions. In such a situation when the next step to take is not known,advices, recommendations, support all kick in. The people in theperson’s social world around the customer act as guides towardsdecision making.The following are some of the identified elements of being social:• Content: A great social experience includes presenting the rightcontent to the right customer at the right time. Curation is aserious affair in social commerce. From purchase history to whatdevices people are on, content has to be new, useful, and thatadds value to consumers.• Referrals and recommendations: A report made by Nielsenindicated that 92 percent of people go by recommendations for apurchase online rather than believing in advertisements.• Reviews and ratings: Showcasing reviews from satisfiedcustomers, friends from their social networks adds to thecredibility of the brand and is extremely influential in conversions.• News feed: Friends see stories as they appear in the news feed.Any and every activity is again a point of sale. This stream flowsand connects brands to people super fast.CreditsTop: Stuart ConnorMiddle: Aural AsiaBottom: iBaNe
  • 4. Social Technology Quarterly 06• Reward: Rewards increase repeat purchases and build loyalty.Ranking people, awarding points, and offering rewards temptpeople to stick around longer and even work towards it.• Encourage advocacy: Authentic advocacy influences thepurchase decisions of everyone around.There are applications, tools, and technologies that make all of theabove happen. Tools have been made that measure social ROI ratheraccurately: from tracking number of likes, tweets, followers, pins,re-pins, to influences. Sophisticated analyses, metrics, campaignsdesigned based on insights for right targeting, conversions, word-of-mouth to generate great loyalty have come up. The surplus dataabout behaviours, psyche, etc., offer companies opportunities to evenpredict shopping patterns.Comprehend and work on the entire shopping behaviour cycle withthe right suites of applications. Social commerce is about customer-satisfaction, providing great experiences, and being customer centredover the traditional sense of being profit and transactional driven.There is a great deal of focus on relationships; the motive is nolonger sale but repeat sales along with achieving a dollop of loyalty.To sell better and build loyalty from social audiences stimulate them,add value, and transfer the power of transaction to them. Createenvironments and platforms that actively engage with users, maintainrelationships in a personal manner- that replicates building one toone rapport. The feminists fought for their rights with the motto “Thepersonal is political” and social commerce is making its stand with“The personal is social.”ReferencesCavazza,Fred.“The Six Pillars of Social Commerce.” Forbes.02 Jan2012.Chaney, Paul. “Word of Mouth Still Most Trusted Resource SaysNielsen; Implications for Social Commerce.” Social Commerce Today.16 Apr 2012.Curty, Renata Gonçalves, and Ping Zhang. “American Societyfor Information Science and Technology.” American Society forInformation Science and Technology.48.1 (2012): 1-10.“Social Commerce.”Wikipedia Inc.10 Sep 2012.“Starbucks Card.” Starbucks. Starbucks Corporation. Web. 10 Oct2012.• Group buying: Just as how news spreads quickly, group buying,group gifting spread word about a brand, offering conveniencein terms of gaining discounts and making gifting easy. It is nowonder that group buying can make brands go viral.• Exclusives: Exclusive fan deals, discounts for sharing,personalized shopping experiences, pop-up shops, help makebrands stand out. Offering a privilege or a benefit, and a bonusthat no one else offers ensure people stay and the cycle ofrecommendations and referrals continues.• Rewards: Incentives drive people to respond. Through social,make users perform targeted, marketing actions. Offer rewardsfor expressing views, writing a review, clicking a link, sharing apromotion, referring a friend, etc. Adding game techniques to theincentives is another brilliant move.• Socially driven loyalty programs: Starbucks is famous for itsloyalty cards and programs. Making a move to going social withgifting cards, rewards, and points, the program gets better withthe convenience it offers in terms of technology. The card can beadded to the Starbucks mobile app, there is an app that allowsusers to check the level they havee reached in the programusing the “star” - My Starbuck Rewards’ currency, and there areelements of fun. When one makes a purchase and goes to thattab on the mobile app, one sees a star actually fall into a cupand that tracks progress over time. This is evidence enoughto show that loyalty programs are now no longer for ensuringrepeat purchases built around points and rewards and repeatpurchases but built around people: enabling social mechanicsand designing a simple user engagement model.Going SocialGoing social is about redefining engagement. Engagement is notabout interacting with random games and making offers after oneaccumulates fans. There are various touch points in all the phasesof the shopping experience where engagement and personalizationneed to be driven.• Acquaint: To drive awareness around a brand that claims being‘social’ it’s is necessary to reflect that in the awareness drive,which has to be social in nature to elicit interest. With the plethoraof data available, set up campaigns that involve people togetherbe it a contest or a basic game.• Drive: Create a social world where people can participate inactivities together. Be it in the form of extending referrals or groupbuying, make the world a personalized one with the help of thatdeluge of data available about online behaviours and activities.• Support: In order to be a core part of people’s lives, engage, talk,and extend support in forms of content, stories, expressions, etc.Conversations that will help the community will also build brandadvocates. They curate information, influence other buyers, andcommunicate about brands across different social networks.