Today's brands know the value of social media. It's the most powerful, least-expensive word-of-mouth advertising tool out there, and you can engage far more individuals through follower retweets and shares than you can through most other traditional marketing channels.
While consumers are usually happy to post about their brand experiences anyway, one way to sweeten the deal and encourage even more social interactions is to offer a monetary incentive for active social influencers. Last week, a pop-up store in New York City did just that to boost social media engagement for its opening weekend, and was able to reach 21 million social media users with its hashtag, #SocialCurrency.
Customers who visited the OnePiece pop-up store in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood beginning on launch day (Nov. 7) were able to take part in the Social Currency program by connecting their social media accounts to the company's ambassador system, PieceKeepers. Once synced, the PieceKeepers platform calculated the customers' total social following across all linkable platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn) and computed it into a dollar amount. Every 500 followers equaled $1 toward a purchase, and customers could earn an additional $20 when they uploaded and shared a hashtagged image from the store.
Thomas Adams, co-founder of the Norwegian jumpsuit brand, said the idea for Social Currency stemmed from a desire to provide great marketing value while giving something back to the company's loyal social media followers. [Social Media Marketing Solutions for Small Businesses]
"We have always used social media in a very creative way and [wanted] to see how we could connect this store to social media," Adams told Business News Daily. "We have such an amazing and loyal social fan base that has helped us grow as a company since day one. We wanted to show our gratitude for their support and felt like our New York City launch was the perfect opportunity."
During OnePiece NYC's opening weekend, customers earned more than $12,000 in Social Currency discounts. While this may sound like a big profit loss, the long-term benefits more than make up for it: In addition to the Social Currency hashtag's impressive reach, the company is now linked with nearly 12.5 million social media followers through its ambassadors' networks.
Adams believes that the concept behind Social Currency — discounts and rewards for social media activity — will catch on among other brands as a way to build lasting customer engagement and loyalty.
"This a completely new way to work with social media," he said. "It is a great way to get a lot of exposure on social [networks]. Our customers are superexcited to take part in it, and they love getting the discounts, of course."
Beyond offering customer incentives, Adams said that the key to strong social media engagement is using your social platforms to tell a story.
"Build a brand narrative that the target group can tap into and use to enhance their own [stories]," Adams said. "But most importantly, be creative. Find new ways to leverage the marketing power that these social media platforms have. That is how you can achieve maximum exposure [at] minimal cost."
OnePiece NYC's Social Currency program is scheduled to run through Nov. 17, though Adams noted that the store may extend it due to its current popularity. The company will also introduce Social Currency to all of its concept stores in the near future.