How to Craft the Best Referral Share Messaging

December 12, 2017
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The message that your referrals communicate to customers is extremely important. Without intentional messaging, you put your current customers at risk of sharing recommendations they’re not confident in. A strong referral message will make the difference between simple “shares” and real conversions.

Let’s walk you through how to craft the perfect message for your brand!

Create a perfectly customized referral program.
Learn how to tailor your referral program to your brand and get your customers telling their friends about you.

Include Your Logo in the Share Image

Every time referrals are shared on behalf of your brand, your customers are providing free marketing. To maximize the effectiveness of this marketing, make sure that your logo is clearly pictured in the share image.

While not everyone who views your referral messaging will act on it, every brand impression matters! Each time your logo is seen, you are establishing connections with current and future customers. That is why Topps made sure to include their bold, bright red logo at the top of their referral share image.

Tops Referral Share Message in Smile.io

 The image and text shared via a link is usually pulled from that page's metadata, edited in the source code. However, Topps was able to edit these fields in just a few seconds with their Smile.io referral program.

Choose an Image That Shows What You Sell

The image included in your referral share is your brand’s first — and potentially only — opportunity to create visual desire across new audiences. It’s important that you choose an image that showcases your product or service in a way that encourages customers to act.

Uber Referral Messaging

Take Uber, for example. The rideshare company has chosen a referral image that clearly communicates what they offer as a brand. Looking at this referral, not only do we know that Uber is operating in the transportation industry, but we also know that their program is run through a mobile device. For someone receiving this referral, there is enough context provided to make the decision of whether or not to accept the offer.

Tell The Receiver What's in it For Them

The receivers of your referral messages see thousands of brand advertisements a day. To break through the noise with a message that resonates, your referral messaging should clearly communicate what’s in it for the receiver. Otherwise, it can be easily lost in the mix of communications your receivers see every day.

Smile.io Facebook Referral


To create desire quickly and concisely, design a referral that focuses primarily on what the benefit is to the receiver. In the case of The Tea Room, the title of this referral clearly showcases that the receiver can apply a $10 credit to their first subscription. As a result, there is evident financial value for anyone who comes across this message. A clear showcase of the benefit you are offering will clarify your customers’ decision of whether or not to respond.

Include Words Like "I" and "My"

You already know that the customers who participate in your referral program are your best marketers, but did you know that you could make their referral more powerful by incorporating personal pronouns?

According to the consistency principle, each time a customer forwards a referral that refers to themselves specifically, their future actions are more likely to be influenced by the statement they’ve made. These customers want to maintain a consistent image of themselves, meaning they will continue to endorse your brand in order to align themselves with previous statements.

Smile.io Topps Twitter Referral

For example, a Topps referral that includes the word “my” on my public Twitter profile ties my reputation directly to the brand. Given that I have publicly endorsed this brand, I am more likely to continue spreading positive information about the company to preserve my image. As a brand, use this principle to your advantage by writing referrals to sound as personal as possible.

Update Your Share Imagery Every Few Months

To keep your message relevant, consider modifying your share messaging reflect a new strategy, a new season, or simply to correct a mistake (we’ve all been there). While the opportunities to re-create your referral message are endless, here are just a few examples of times you may choose to make modifications:

  • Celebrating a product launch
  • Celebrating a rebrand
  • A holiday promotion
  • A customer appreciation event

As you can see, there are a number of situations in which a new referral message could work to your brand’s advantage. However, don’t set it and forget it — there’s nothing worse than a customer finding out that the promotion they’re being referred to is no longer valid. Although referral messages may be easy to customize, you don’t want them to be easy to forget! Make sure you have eyes on your messaging and keep it up to date.

A Well Crafted Referral Message Has a Big Impact!

When used correctly, your referral shares can be powerful conversion tools. According to Nielsen, consumers are 4x more likely to purchase a product when they’ve been referred by a friend, and customized messaging will make your referrals more trustworthy than ever before!

Share messaging is just one piece of a great referral program.
Find out what other elements will make your referral program exceptional.