Social media has become ingrained into our lives becoming part of our daily routine of checking our phones, posting, and consuming content. It’s become so normal, those rare friends who don’t have a social media profile are viewed as an anomaly. And if you’re an ecommerce business not on social media, it can be difficult to scale and grow.

Social media has changed the way we connect with people, consume content and interact with our favorite brands. It’s estimated that there are 4.74 billion social media users around the world (as of October 2022). That is 59.3 percent of the population.

It’s become normal to head to your favorite brand’s Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram page or at the very least see their content on your feeds. From the business perspective, whether you’re an established brand or a new business, the potential to build a community and a loyal following on any social media platform is an easy start.

For example, 90% of social media users are already following a brand on Instagram.

Social media is a communication tool with the compacity to build a community and a relationship with your customers. Customers can interact with your brand at any time of the day, whether it's a DM for support, comments left on your content, being tagged in a review, or someone looking up your product before they make a purchase decision. These interactions offer an engaging experience that builds trust with your brand, making it the perfect tool for promoting and improving your loyalty program.

You can leverage social media for your rewards program by letting customers earn rewards for taking social actions, promoting your loyalty program creatively, and using your social media analytics to make decisions on how to reach your audience.

Incorporate social media actions into your loyalty program

Rewarding customers for social media actions is one of the easiest ways to engage new loyalty members and have them earn points right off the bat. Involving social media actions such as earning 100 points for a follow on Instagram or 200 points for posting on TikTok, immediately engages your customers by introducing them to your social channels.

Incorporating social media actions into your loyalty program will make customers feel like reaching a certain points balance is attainable. This will in turn increase the likelihood of your customers participating in your program and coming back for a repeat purchase.

Social media is becoming the landing page for first-time visitors. The first place where visitors will head to view your product in action, read reviews, your brand presence, and determine if your business is credible. TikTok is quickly becoming a top search engine for Gen Z consumers, while Millenials find user-generated content on social media, 50% more trustworthy than brand imagery.

In order to create the best possible experience for your program members, you should reward social actions that make sense for your brand.

For example, if you’re a cosmetics brand with a large presence on Instagram, you should reward members for following you there, not on Twitter.

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Encouraging customers to earn points by sharing your products on a channel that most of them don’t use will cause frustration and lower your redemption rates. Instead, find a way to incorporate popular channels like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter into your rewards program to give your customers more opportunities to earn points before their first purchase!

screenshot of Detour Sunglasses homepage with their rewards program panel
Detour Sunglasses rewards customers for taking social actions

Detour Sunglasses has built its community on social media, so rewarding customers for a follow and sharing on social media platforms was a natural part of its loyalty program. Detour Sunglasses rewards 10 points for every follow on Instagram and 15 points for shares on Facebook. “We have our program set up so customers get reward points for every dollar they spend but they can also do things like follow us on social, share our page, sign up for their birthday, etc. They can even earn points by doing these things before a purchase,” says founder and CEO Chris Venturini.

“Seeing how close they are to a reward right off the bat definitely helps them pull the trigger on a purchase and then keeps them coming back!”

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In these ways, rewarding customers for performing social actions are a win-win: finding ways to integrate popular platforms into your rewards program will create a more engaging experience for your customers, while also resulting in more exposure for your brand.

Use social media to promote your rewards program

It’s estimated the amount of time people spend on social media is an average of 2 hours and 27 minutes a day. With so many users across the world and often the first place people are heading to for information, social media is an incredible resource to help you create awareness about your rewards program on a global scale. Once you’ve determined which platforms your target audience is most likely to interact with, you can begin sharing rewards content that’s been designed with your audience in mind.

Not all rewards and loyalty programs are set up to succeed. Reward programs fail because of how they are set up in the first place. Not optimized for growth, doesn’t cater to a brand's audience, and the biggest mistake…businesses fail to promote their programs in the first place. Creating a rewards program with the set-it-and-forget-it mentality, will not drive retention, loyalty, or repeat purchases. You can’t be successful if you never tell people you have a loyalty program they can join.

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Mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube all have unique benefits that give you a number of ways to communicate the value of your program. From letting customers know your program, how to join and what customers can earn.

Yes Darling Tea, is a tea brand focused on providing wellness tea blends. To remind users of unused points and how to register for their loyalty program, they created a visual walkthrough on Instagram and Facebook. They showed users how to sign up for their program on both mobile and desktop, as well as log into their accounts.

Social media can also make it easier for customers to access your rewards program by making it simple for you to link customers back to your website. From there, there are countless ways you can convert your followers to program members through engaging, visually-delightful calls-to-action.

screenshots of Retea's Instagram page and their link in bio page
Retea makes it easy for new visitors to learn about discounts and their loyalty program

Retea is a reusable tea cup and premium bubble tea kit brand. With a clear link to their loyalty program in their link in bio, Instagram Stories, and feed posts, Retea is ensuring customers can understand their loyalty program benefits. By earning 50 points for a follow on Instagram and 50 points for a like on Facebook, Retea is leveraging its social media earning actions to grow its social media following. It’s an easy-to-understand value proposition that customers can quickly understand what they have to gain from joining the rewards program.

No matter how you choose to do it, the most important thing to remember when promoting your rewards program on social media is to cater your content to the platform you are sharing on. If you’re sharing the right message in the wrong place, the value of your program won't be understood. When you’ve determined where your customers are, how to engage them in conversation, and how to position your program creatively, you’ll be on track to promoting your rewards program effectively!

Use social media analytics to improve your rewards program

It’s one thing to decide to use social media to improve your program engagement, but how do you know if you’re achieving your goal?

Leverage and improve your program through analytics and data. If you’re scheduling your social media content through any third-party apps like Buffer or Sprout, or directly on the platform itself, you can monitor your social performance and analyze key metrics in real-time. These metrics will not only give you insight into what content your followers are engaging with but will also help you determine why.

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Let’s say you are running a loyalty program in the cosmetics industry and you are designing a social media campaign that features one of your products as a reward. Based on how often customers engage with your social media messages, you can determine how interested your members are in redeeming this new reward. If engagement rates are low, it may mean that your customers aren’t interested in this reward, reducing the likelihood that they will want to participate in the program.

Social analytics will give you a sense of how engaging customers find different aspects of your program.

In this situation, you could counter this low engagement by running a social campaign that features a best-selling product as a reward. This reward will motivate customers to perform more actions that will result in redemption, such as sharing your brand on Facebook, following you on Instagram and Twitter, or referring a friend. Performing A/B testing on your social campaigns and tracking the results through analytics will allow you to make data-driven decisions about what members want from your rewards program and what they simply don’t like.

A rewards program worth sharing

Your rewards program can become more effective than ever before, by simply sharing it across social media with intention, strategy, and creativity. Social media platforms are tools with global reach while providing countless ways to reward your customers for brand engagement and building a brand community. In addition, your social analytics act as market research, allowing you to cater your program to your customers based on their engagement behavior.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 17, 2019 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on December 13, 2022.