Though there are plenty of signs all around, you don’t have to look much past the fact that the big marketing suites now include social measurement tools to realize that the era of social media as a luxury add-on to your marketing strategy is dead. Social marketing needs to have an impact, and that impact needs to be measurable.
I mention this because, as I was reading Dr. Paul Marsden’s recap over at Digital Innovation Today of the “20 rules to turn social media into social sales,” I couldn’t help but notice how many of the rules relatedly directly to referral marketing:
“Offer social incentives that reward people for shopping together.”
Enable and encourage gifting, “either by offering free samples yourself or by encouraging gifting between customers.” (emphasis added)
Sell with “social proof,” allowing customers to learn from the shared experiences of others.
“Sell through affinity networks, helping friends help their friends with your products and services.”
“Drive product discovery through a fusion of the ’social graph’ and the ’interest graph’ — where personal connections meet shared interests.”
“Harness your happy customers as a volunteer sales force, deploying them as your premier new customer acquisition team.” (Did he say, “Retention is the new acquisition?” Why yes. Yes he did.)
There are a handful more — by my count, at least eight of the rules directly relate to referral marketing. It makes me wonder: is referral marketing the key to social commerce success? I’d argue that it is. Referral marketing activates the mechanisms at the very core of The Social Commerce Handbook. It allows people to share their experiences with a company/product/service and learn from others’ experiences. It incentivizes shopping with friends and, furthermore, enables people to give each other gifts both concrete (like a discount offer) and intangible (like product advice). It drives product discovery through personal connection.
Social is now a fact of life for marketers. It has to be effective. If referral marketing moves so many of the levers that move social, shouldn’t referral marketing be a fact of life for marketers too? I’m curious to hear what you think — add a comment below.