Sounding Off: Inge Van Eetveldt “The Power of Friend Referrals Within Social Media and Email Marketing”
Social media and email marketing are powerful tools in any marketer's arsenal. It allows direct and valuable connection to a group of subscribers or fans that have taken the first step in expressing interest in your brand. While social media and email marketing both serve as excellent platforms to share branded content and manage relationships with consumers it also boasts another, often overlooked facet - the power of friend referrals and peer to peer connection and reviews. Because the two mediums act as networks through which people connect to each other as well as to companies and brands - the strong bonds of trust and friendship between these users and subscribers serve as another potential feed through which brand awareness and ultimately sales can be cultivated and increased.
The friend referral process
Numerous studies have shown that building a relationship with consumers and opening a channel of communication with them is very helpful indeed, but when it comes right down to it, people are more likely to trust the advice and influence of their peers. As consumers conduct research on products and brands as part of their journey through the buying cycle, they come into contact with a variety of sources that advocate or sometimes condemn a brand. These sources can range from branded content or advertising created by the brand themselves or can take the form of reviews and recommendations from other consumers like themselves. Bloggers in particular have become very influential in contributing to brand identity and often play an integral role in moulding and shifting people's opinions through their opinion, reviews or even association with a certain brand. These views are often shared on social media where they infiltrate the popular consciousness and work to either strengthen or weaken a brand's following.
How to use the power of referral
Because the power of friend referral is so strong, many brands aim to incorporate this interaction into their social and email marketing campaigns. By asking followers, fans and subscribers to share a campaign, promotion or competition with a friend they are achieving two very important campaign goals. Firstly, the social referral action initiates a chain reaction that invariably means that more people will come into contact with the campaign - and not only will these prospects be more numerous, they will also likely be new additions to the brand's social media page or email database. Secondly, brands will reap the benefits of the trust already established between the parties doing the sharing.
Inge Van Eetveldt is an email marketing and digital media specialist at Digital Fire. Digital Fire specializes in full service opt-in email marketing, email data rental, email database management, social media consultancy and management as well as Search Engine Optimisation.