Social Media Fan Reward Programs


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Trends Assessment #1

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Social Media Fan Reward Programs

  1. 1. Social Media Fan Reward ProgramMarina N. BarrettMKTG 7546 – Marketing in a Digital Environment – Professor Brey
  2. 2. Social Media Fan Reward Program Trend Assessment 1The Power of Engagement“Reward programs are everywhere. Credit cards, frequent flier miles, grocery chains anddrugstores.”9As a society, getting things for free is something we greatly enjoy. Businessesrealize that “nothing promotes profitability more than a high customer retention rate and strongsales within the customer base.”6As the economy continues to fluctuate it has become morechallenging for businesses to retain and maintain customers. However, this challenge woulddecrease if businessesoptimized the platforms their customers enjoy and constantly engage in.“While social media may seem like a trend that’s too techy or too young…it’s a phenomenonthat [businesses] can’t afford to ignore, postpone or delegate.”4Social media can help businesses in areas such as customer service, market research, competitiveintelligence, and reputation management al(Torrell, 2012)ong with many others, but it can alsoincrease their customer engagement by integrating social media reward programs. Rewardprograms have worked for a variety of types of businesses and structured in a way that makessense for their audience. Through social media, businesses can restructure their reward programsin order to generate a desired outcome. “Getting people to promote content is great butbusinesses should gear their program to provide the greatest incentives to actions that help reachbusiness goals.”9A recent survey by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council indicates thatloyalty programs can strongly influence consumer’s buying decisions.6 The transparency and openness of Social Media makes identifying [a] brand enthusiasts very easy. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing there is. Conversations are happening online all the time whether it be established social sites like Facebook or Twitter or rising ones such as Yelp or FourSquare. Identifying customers who are passionate and talking about your business or service within their social circles and rewarding them with bonuses or perks can do wonders for your business.5The advantage of reward programs for businesses is that they do not have to distribute monetaryrewards to every customer involved in order to maintain their engagement. Reward programs caninstead offer incentives in the form of “points” and once reached the predetermined allocation ofpoints then that customer can receive a reward. This entices customers to repeat and maintaintheir engagement through social media platforms. Social media allows businesses to eliminatethe limitations that offline reward programs encompassed. “A modern loyalty rewards programthat leverages Internet technology is the ideal tool for keeping your customers loyal and sellingthem more of your products and services.”6The Buzz Around SportsTraditionally, the sporting industry focuses on the fan and crowd engagement while yourfinancial records are kept private and secure within your bank. Social media is a platformdedicated to enhancing communications and sharing personal and specific information at anygiven time. We tend to broadcast details of our lives on Facebook and Twitter for the world tosee while allowing the Internet to keep for all times. But rarely, if at all, do you we seeinformation about how much money we have in the bank offered publicly on the World-Wide-2 - Barrett
  3. 3. Social Media Fan Reward Program Trends Assessment 1Web. The two cases I have selected to demonstrate the impact social media reward programshave on businesses today include, BuzzBanking and Baylor Bold Rewards. Two completelydifferent establishments yet both utilizing similar platforms for social engagement.I never thought banks would consider utilizing social media based on how private banking canbe until PointBank in Pilot Point, Texas found a way. By boosting social media presence banksare finding a way to replace lost checking-account revenue. Slowly, banks are engaging in“BuzzBanking, a rewards program that lets customers earn points both for debit-card use and forpublicizing their points-earning activities on Facebook and Twitter.”7President of PointBank,Ray David Jr. believes, “social media brings value to the customer, it enhances the bank’s imageand it is more direct marketing for the merchant”.7BuzzBanking works when banks and creditunions join forces with the program and their customer’scurrent debit-card is transformed into a“Buzz-Enabled Debit-Card”. Every time a purchase is made with this card the customeraccumulates points. These customers can then login to BuzzBanking’s website and track howmany points you have earned. From there they can exchange those points for a variety of giftcards to businesses such as Chili’s, Target, and Travelocity.8“The BuzzBanking model is a way for banks to wrap their arms around social media in aproductive way that engages consumers and merchants. This allows them to control the messagebut in a fun way.”7While BuzzBanking encompasses social media, the company does little toexplain the impact that social media platforms have on their program. It states that the customersearn points by publicizing their earnings on sites such as Facebook and Twitter but their websitedoes not address the real benefit they receive by doing so. I believe BuzzBanking could be moresuccessful in gaining participation through banks/credit unions, involved merchants, andcustomers if they increasing the total amount of points one can receive by enhancing the socialmedia publicity. For example, if I chose to trade in my points for a Chili’s gift card I couldreceive double points if I checked-in on FourSquare at the Chili’s I was using my card at, as wellas using BuzzBanking promoted hashtag’s on Twitter. Not only would this maintain customerengagement it offers free marketing for Chili’s (as well as other businesses associated withBuzzBanking) when customers are talking about them rather than the competitors.A potential application of this trend could be implemented across Universities. Most alluniversities offer meal plans to their students that can be accessed by using a university issued IDcard it could also be transferred into a reward earing card. This could be popular among studentswho do not live on campus and either frequently or infrequently purchase a meal or coffee oncampus. A system could be developed where students can go to a link on the universities websiteand add funds from to their student ID card. When that card is used to purchase anything oncampus from food, books, tickets to athletic events, they would accumulate points which can bemonitored on the same website that they use to add funds to the card. When a student earns alevel of points they can then in turn exchanged those points for rewards. These rewards couldrange from a discount at the school book store to large prizes such as field access pass to afootball game. The integration of social media would remain the same as students could alsoaccumulate points for publicizing where they used their ID card, how many points they haveearned, and what prize they are hopping to win. In order for the student to obtain these pointsthey would be requited to share this news on specific university Facebook pages or tweet withpromoted hashtags.3- Barrett
  4. 4. Social Media Fan Reward Program Trend Assessment 1On the complete opposite side of the business spectrum is Baylor University and their integrationof social media in their athletic department with the Baylor Bold Rewards Program. “Fans can sign up for the program at and connect their Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare accounts. All rewards points are automatically updated when they “like” things on Baylor Athletics’ Facebook page, tweet with specific hashtags and check in to athletic events, which are just a few of the ways to earn points. The only reason fans would need to go to Baylor’s rewards site is to check how many points they have earned and see how 1 they stack up to other Bears fans on the leaderboard.”2At the end of the year the three participants with the most points will earn a prize, including thegrand prize of getting to lead the Baylor football team out on the field for the first game of the2012 season and receive an iPad2. However, participants receive points and prizes throughoutthe year as an incentive to participate.1,2The best thing Baylor University did with thedevelopment of their rewards program is not limiting it to their student body. The program isoffered for all Baylor students and non-students, which offers engagement nationwide. Baylorwas extremely smart in making the process simple and compliant with today’s most popularsocial media platforms.Baylor provides to have a strong handle on this trend based especially on the timeframe that theylaunched the program. Baylor Bold Rewards Program was introduced at the beginning of theirbasketball season when their women’s team was ranked number one in the country and theirmen’s team ranked number seven. This generated strong online buzz in their first few weeks ofthe programs existence.Baylor could be more successful with this trend and their program if theyhad mid-year grand prize winners. This would offer awareness to those who may not be familiarwith the program includingrecognizing dedicated participants. The Baylor Bold RewardsProgram is the most promising and effective program I have ever seen initiated by a sportingentity. I see this program expanding and becoming implemented among all sporting events fromHigh School athletic departments to theOlympics while being designed for their specific needs.The Baylor Bold Rewards Program could also be applied to the movie theater industry. UsingMalcoParadisoMovie Theater as an example, they could implement a rewards program in orderto increase attendance at the movies. Following the same structure that Baylor University createdMalco would be able to promote the program during the commercials prior to the start of eachfilm. This would allow as a constant reminder to all the individuals in attendance to reach fortheir phone and check in to the theater and publicize what movie they were attending. Theparticipants could also receive double the points if they posted a review about the movie theywatchedor service they received while at the theater. Rewards could range from free moviepasses to a discount in the fee for commercial advertisement; as well as a congratulatory messageto the grand prize winner on the same add that promotes the program.Social Media Growl TowelI reached out to the Director of New Media, Brad Sheffield, at Baylor University in hopes ofgathering information on the direct impact the University and Athletic Department had seen4 - Barrett
  5. 5. Social Media Fan Reward Program Trends Assessment 1based on the Baylor Bold Rewards Program as well as the future of the program; sadly I neverreceived a response.Fortunately, I was able to connect with Lesley Torrell, Director, Internet Marketing and WebDevelopment, for the Memphis Grizzlies. Lesley has been with the Grizzlies for 11 years andresponsible for strategy and implementation of interactive marketing initiative for the team andFedExForum. She is also the team liaison for and met with Lesley in her office at FedExForum to discuss the current trends she saw impactingthe Grizzlies through social media while she also learned about the trends and topics we havebeen discussing in our class. She seemed extremely eager to learn and be refreshed on the worldof social media wile informing me how the Grizzlies utilize such platforms. I described both casestudies from Baylor University and PointBank, and of course we leaned towards a moreengaging conversation regarding the Baylor Bold Rewards Program. Lesley described to me howfascinating and simple the program seemed to be and something that could be considered forimplementation for the team. As for impacting the business landscape (i.e., the MemphisGrizzlies) she sees the trend being used by many professional teams with a strong number ofparticipation,solely based on the interaction the Grizzlies Facebook fan page and Twitter accountsee on a regular basis. Naturally on game nights these sites attract participation, so to have agame/contest that the fans can engage in during a Grizzlies game is something that can and willeasily be accomplished.Fan’s attending any type of event, whether it be within FedExForum or any other arena in theworld, they love to be engaged and close to the action. Lesley sees the Grizzlies andFedExForum being impacted by the trend of reward programs via social media because of thisdesire for engagement. Lesley described a new text-messaging-system that the arena released atthe beginning of this season where fans who were attending any ticketed event could sendmessages to a dispatcher regarding any incidents, such as a vulgar behavior or spilledcondiments,which were located in their area. Although there were a large sum of messagesreceived by the dispatcher resulting in false accusations, the system soon made it more engagingfor fans to be a part of the action throughout the arena; especially if they saw a fan two rowsahead of them being escorted out by security. Because of the strong engagement that the textbased system displayed, Lesley believes that the impact social media has on their fans couldbring an overwhelming increase in participation though positive messages distributed by thosefans especially if rewards were an ending factor.As for Lesley’s thoughts on the future of the trend; she sees it becoming implemented amongmore college athletic departments sooner than professional teams. While she believes that thistrend has been growing and will continue to grow as social media strategies are integrated in tothe industry, professional teams will have to decipher whether this trend is more important thanthe perks and benefits that season ticket holders currently receive. The Grizzlies season ticketholders, known as MVP’s, receive a variety of rewards for every year they continue as seasonticket holders. While these rewards may not offer immediate satisfaction it is something that theorganization would need to discuss because they do not want to lessen the degree of prestige thatthe season ticket holders receive. While there are season ticket holders and boosters withincollege athletics there is a larger threshold of fans, students and non-students, which canparticipate in a rewards program. This allows for a quicker implementation of the program5- Barrett
  6. 6. Social Media Fan Reward Program Trend Assessment 1without the risk of lessening the prestige of the incentives boosters and season ticket holdersreceive.In order for the Grizzlies to stay ahead of competitors they must determine how other NBAteams and college athletics are successfully utilizing social media. Lesley told me that she isaware of the rate that Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and YouTube is accelerating and that it isimportant to remain close to social media and technological advancements in order to benefitfrom them before their competitors do. Lesley explained to me that she does not have enoughemployees within her department to fully monitor all of their social media outlets or remaineducated on the benefits they can obtain through such monitoring. She believes that if she wantsto stay ahead of the competition, besides researching other teams, she needs to expand her staffso that research and tasks of monitoring can occur and be put towards a promising use and asuccessful outcome.Social Media Sums It UpWhen businesses want to strongly influence their consumers’ buying decisions it is importantthat they meet those consumers needs and wants on the platforms that reach them best. Throughsocial media businesses can reach out to their existing customer base and ask them to connectwith the business through their favorite social sites.3,6 By offering incentives to customersthrough rewards programs via social networking sites you remain at the top of their mind andusually a big factor in their decision making process for repeat business or visits. Social mediarewards programs have become the most effective way to engage consumers, retain loyalty andprovide satisfaction.6 - Barrett
  7. 7. Social Media Fan Reward Program Trends Assessment 1Reference List: 1. Baylor Bold Rewards Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from Baylor Athletics: 2. Beise, K., & Howes, L. (2011, December 12). Social Media Fan Rewards: Baylor University Uses Innovative New Program to Reward Fans. Retrieved from Sports Networker: baylor-university-uses-innovative-new-program-to-reward-fans/ 3. Customer Reward Programs Through Social Media. (n.d.). Retrieved from Brand Advance: 4. Getting Social . (2011, October). Retrieved from food- 5. Measuring Social Media ROI. (n.d.). Retrieved from Brand Advance: 6. Rutigliano, J. (2011). Get Sticky! Dont Take Chances on Customer Retention. Indoor Comfort Marketing, 70 (4), 12-16. 7. Stewart, J. (2011, January 2). Bank Uses Social Media Rewards to Buoost Revenue. Business Source Premier . 8. Torrell, L. (2012, Febuary 8). Director, Internet Markeing and Web Development, Memphis Grizzlies. (M. Barrett, Interviewer) 9. Video Tour: BuzzBanking. (n.d.). Retrieved from BuzzBanking: 10. Whitney, D. (2011, August 2). How Social Rewards Programs are Changing Online Marketing. Retrieved from Social Meda Today: whitney/328865/how-social-rewards-programs-are-changing-online-marketing7- Barrett