When a referral program is done right, it can result in high conversions and high return on investments.

Referrals happen naturally on their own because of word of mouth. Word of mouth happens to be one of the most trusted forms of marketing. It also plays a major role in referral marketing. It’s no secret that a formal referral program increases referrals, and actually generates leads for a business. You see how this comes full circle?

Referral marketing doesn’t happen on its own. It needs tunnels of communication. This has caused businesses to reassess how they get their customers to participate. This is exactly why many businesses have learned to combine their referral programs with social media.

Having a social media friendly referral program is actually a huge factor in its success. Especially if the business already has happy customers talking about them in these channels.

What is referral marketing?

Referral marketing is an awesome way to get your business out there. Essentially, a referral program is a way to encourage customers to spread the word about your brand, with or without incentives. Referral marketing is a way of leveraging a business’s existing network of customers.megan1

As mentioned, it can be an incentivized word of mouth marketing tactic. Meaning it’s pretty organic, but there is usually an incentive involved which helps boost sharing. Though this isn’t always the case, some programs can be successful without the use of incentives. The matter of having easy sharing capabilities can be convincing enough to make a customer share.

Benefits of a Referral Program

By now you can already see how beneficial a referral program can be for your business. Let’s cover a few reasons why referral programs are awesome.

1. People trust referred brands. People accept brands and businesses recommended by friends over any other source of advertisement.
2. Your customers are marketing your business for you. Satisfied customers will share with their friends!
3. Referrals and referrers are better customers. These guys tend to stick around longer and spend more money.

Seems too good to be true, right? Well part of a referral program’s success has to do with social media. But how does social media play into this?

1. Your Customers are Already There

It’s a lot of work promoting a referral program. It’s ideal to create a program that encourages customers to promote for you.

Social media can be a significant driver of referral traffic. This is because many of your customers are probably already on at least one social media platform. Think about it, people of all ages, all around the world use social media. This means that social media can help get your brand maximum exposure. mrgan2Social media also makes things shareable. In fact, sharing a referral program via social media is actually really simple. Referral software connects users to their social media platforms by using social media widgets and buttons. This way sharing can be done fast and easy.

People are definitely more inclined to do something when it’s easy, especially if it’s something that they are already doing. People share on regular basis. Even if they aren’t sharing something new every single day, they are online and active.

You may even be able to find your top influencers and get them to sign up for your referral program. If they are already talking about you online, they would definitely be willing to spread the word if an incentive was involved.

2. It’s Great For Building Social Proof

Referrals can be persuasive. When someone is sent a referral or sees a friend spreading the word about a product they are more likely to think that product is worth remembering. According to a Nielsen’s report, 84% of consumers say they trust their friends and family as resources.

Recommendations from friends can be quite persuasive. Friends don’t share things that will make them look bad. People share things that they think their friends will benefit from and enjoy. Especially if it’s shared publicly via social media.

When a customer shares directly on their friend’s page or even on their own home page that builds proof of your product. It puts your business in a positive light and influences people to check you out.

Similarly, you may see some customers add their link to their bios. Typically, this behavior is done by people in influencer programs. However, it can work really well for a regular referral program as well, as it builds social proof.

3. Sharing is Bound to Occur

It turns out social media is the epitome of sharing. Think about any viral video, meme, or story that is out there. The majority of anyone’s feed is shared content. This is because people like sharing, but it’s also because it’s so easy to do.

Everything you see on the web has social media buttons, the perfect persuasion tool. Even eCommerce stores let you share specific items with your friends. Everyone wants to tap into the social media scene because people will share.

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This reiterates that word of mouth marketing happens on its own. A survey by Visible Experts stated that referrals and recommendations are the number one way of obtaining leads. Since many referral programs rely on social media, it can be said that social media has provided a platform for referrals and recommendations to occur.
Even without a formalized referral program, your business will probably still be shared via social media. If you’re exceeding customer expectations and delivering stellar customer service to every customer, they will talk on your behalf as brand advocates. Remember this can happen regardless of a referral program.

4. Program Promotion is Simplified

By now you understand how easy it is to share a referral program on social media. It’s an easy way for customers to share their link and get their friends to check you out. What you may not realize is it’s a good way for you, the business, to tap into the scene as well.

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You may have seen plenty of shared referral links throughout the web. You may be able to see that certain sites like Facebook and Twitter help generate traffic to your referral program. This is all user generated. How can you tap into the scene to promote your business and further encourage sharing?

Tip 1: Use your bio! Whether it be your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn business page, add a link to your referral program. This is a quick way to promote your program. Since your customers are probably checking you out online anyway, it’s an easy way for them to sign up for the program.

Tip 2: Make sure you’re communicating with customers. You know how important it is to respond to negative feedback to mend a relationship. You may even know how important it is to praise good feedback.

Since you’re responding anyway, use these opportunities to ask for a referral or simply remind customers of your referral program. This is extremely effective when responding to positive comments on your social sites. Chances are if someone went out of their way to write something good, they will probably be just as willing to refer – especially if they are happy.

Tip 3: Brag on top referrers. With their consent of course. People like when their actions get noticed. You don’t have to do this for every single user, but try to brag occasionally about some of your referring customers. This could motivate others who have been sleeping on referral invites. It also shows that there are real people referring, getting noticed and earning rewards.

Social Media is the Secret Weapon of Referral Programs

Social sites provide a platform for networking. Building a solid networking foundation should come before implementing a referral program. A referral program needs this solid foundation to produce leads.

Remember social media is not the only way to get your program out there. You may find some customers prefer sharing via email, which is great too. Allowing customers to chose their sending methods means you have made your program with the user in mind.

Social media should definitely be an available option though. If a customer shares your business on their social profiles, it has the potential to be seen by a large network. This then becomes a mini advertisement for you, for free. Just make sure the messaging is clear, and marketing isn’t too heavy as it might exhaust trustworthiness in your brand.

Social media and referral marketing go hand in hand. Referral marketing needs social media to thrive. They are two tools that when used together can help any business thrive.