Social media marketing and referral marketing – a power couple?

Marketers are constantly seeking new and unique promotional ways to boost the performance of the businesses they work for. Usually, the key is to attract as many people as possible in order to acquire new customers. There are numerous marketing methods, but not all of them are effective. 

In this article, we will share with you our perfect recipe for gaining new customers quickly. The perfect duo which will give a new meaning to your marketing strategy is here. All you need is a strong social media presence and a good referral program. You will be surprised how well these two go hand-in-hand together and can change your business forever.

Let’s jump in!

What is social media marketing?

We hear the term ‘social media marketing’ a lot, right? But what exactly is it? It might seem pretty obvious, but it is actually a lot more complex than it may seem. In short, social media marketing refers to the use of social media platforms and websites to promote products and/or services as well as brands, movements, events, people, and much more. 

Nowadays, social media marketing plays an important role in digital advertising as it involves encouraging various audiences to engage with brands and perform specific actions. Companies that want to promote their businesses will usually advertise their activities on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now also TikTok, just to name a few examples. 

The importance of social media

Let’s look at some of the key statistics regarding social media for this year:

  • Facebook is the most commonly used social media platform worldwide.

Most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2021, ranked by number of active users (source).

  • On average, people spend 2 hours, 25 minutes on social media every day

source

source

Social media marketing is a powerful tool, there is no doubt about that. Now that you are familiar with how much various platforms can do, let’s focus on the key pros and cons of social media marketing.

Good or bad ?

Like with everything, there are good and bad sides of social media. It is important, however, that you try to keep a balance between the advantages and disadvantages. Do not only think about the pros and forget the cons, but also make sure you do not focus solely on that latter and end up not even giving social media marketing a try. Find your golden mean and use social media to its full potential.

Pros:

  • low cost and high effectiveness 

You can post content on social media platforms pretty much for free. If your content is interesting and people engage with it repeatedly, it will get many impressions that could lead to a high conversion rate and new leads. 

  • huge audience potential 

With so many social media users worldwide, there undoubtedly will always be people who will want to follow you and view your content. You never know who will become your new customer, so why not give it a try?

  • more than a marketing medium

Social media platforms are not just about generating profit. They allow companies to explore their target audience, reach new people, monitor competitors, stay visible, and much more.

  • allows you to initiate discussions and engage with brands 

When you run social media profiles as a business, you give your customers the chance to reach and engage with you away from your website. This contributes to building greater brand awareness and customer loyalty.

  • gives access to plenty of data to analyze

There are plenty of analytics and reporting tools out there that will help you measure the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. You may want to track so-called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as likes, impressions, views, link clicks, website visits, shares, and comments. All of these will enable you to carefully evaluate your performance to see if social media is for you.

  • allows you to be more visible online (SEO)

The more content you create, the higher your company will appear in search results. Make sure your content is loaded with the right keywords and essential hashtags. Make it as simple as possible for people to find and reach out to you.

  • contributes to building loyalty and makes referrals easy

When brands are active on social media and publish content regularly, their brand image automatically improves and they are more likely to be found trustworthy by customers. Moreover, when people can reach you in more than one place, referral marketing and building a customer base gets much easier.

Cons:

  • time-consuming

To create engaging content that will attract potential customers, you need a lot of time. Whether you are trying to build your audience using paid methods or aim at growing your profiles with organic reach, you need time to find the best strategy for your profiles as well as to produce content. Sadly, not every company has the resources for that. 

  • requires commitment and dedication

Just like with time, to make your social media profiles effective you need to really commit to the goal and dedicate yourself. It is all about constantly thinking about how to improve, being creative, and staying focused.  

  • it is a fast moving environment, so trends change quickly

Trends do change very quickly and it’s important for companies to at least try and stay up to date. It is not easy when new features like filters, sounds, hashtags, and other forms of content are popping up out of nowhere all the time, but with the right approach it is doable. 

  • it can not be controlled

People say that once something is uploaded on the Internet, it stays there forever – and that is true. Some companies lack the skills to think before publishing something and then have to deal with a huge wave of hate and often not a small amount of criticism. It is important to think twice before publishing something risky as there is no going back for companies.

  • high engagement does not mean contributions towards ROI

Just because your social media profiles get many likes, shares, and comments, does not mean those people have any intention of becoming your customers. Therefore, all your efforts could be wasted for some meaningless impressions.

  • security and privacy policies may be an issue

Like with everything that is online, social media carries the possibility of data breaches. The more information that is placed on the Internet, the higher the possibility of being the victim of hackers, invasive companies, or malicious interlopers looking to mine your data in ways that break privacy policies.

Let’s take a step back from social media and look at referral marketing for a moment.

What is referral marking?

Referral marketing is all about you and your existing customers. It is a marketing strategy designed to encourage them to become ambassadors of your company and refer it to their networks. Most of the time, there are incentives included in such strategies to drive interest in participation of promotional methods like this.

Referral marketing focuses on word-of-mouth activities and is a way for companies to grow their businesses at very low costs. In case you’re wondering why you should dive into the referral topic, here are some reasons!

Again – good or bad?

Pros:

  • low cost per lead 

It is up to you what to offer your customers in exchange for them referring you to their friends and family. The good news is that you do not have to pay anything to be referred. You could offer something like free samples or discount codes, which many companies do, but it is not absolutely necessary.

  • high conversion rates

92% of consumers trust referrals more than traditional advertising, so this gives you a great opportunity to attract new customers without the need to spend money on other ineffective marketing methods.

  • more profit

Research shows that referred customers tend to spend 16% more money. Now, surely that’s an interesting thing to know? Because it says that the more referred customers you acquire, the more money your company will make. 

  • keeps your current customers happy 

With product samples and discount codes, your customers will love you for allowing them to get something for (almost) free in exchange for doing as little as spreading the word about your company. This will contribute to building brand loyalty and deepening your relationships with customers.

  • increased marketing reach at a low lost 

By using your clients as advocates for your business, referral marketing helps you increase your reach.  

While there are certain situations when traditional advertising is off-limits, there are virtually no limitations on your customers telling others about your company. Expanding your customer base through referrals is also possible since most people have a diverse circle of friends.

  • automation possibilities 

Once you have set up a good referral marketing program, you are pretty much ready to sit back and enjoy the benefits of it in the form of new customers. Referral marketing does not require constant attention and can pretty much take care of itself.

Cons:

  • little control over what type of customers you will attract 

Some people will do anything for freebies and discount codes. With referral marketing, you never know who will join your company and how authentic they will be. It may turn out that your “new” customers are actually existing ones using different email addresses and/or fake names. It is, unfortunately, difficult to spot and monitor behaviour like this.

  • not a lot of price flexibility 

When customers recommend your services and/or products, they keep in mind the specific pricing range that you offer and talk about it with new potential customers. For this reason, it may be difficult for your company to increase prices often as your news customers will most likely want to see the same offers as their family and friends did. If you do not keep your prices the same, it could lead to customer dissatisfaction. 

  • high competition

In order to successfully launch a referral marketing platform, you should analyze the market and make sure you know where the demand is. Otherwise, you may end up launching a referral program that will not bring any success. 

  • you are exposed to criticism 

As your referral marketing platform has the potential to reach a large audience, you’ll  need to be able to handle negative opinions. There will always be people who disagree with you and even take their criticism too far on the internet, regardless of your intentions. You’ll need a thick skin in this industry in order to survive.

  • good software is difficult to find 

Finding a referral marketing platform that will meet your demands and needs can be a lot of hard work. You will need to dedicate your time to searching for the best solution out there.

Like two halves of an apple – social media & referrals

Social media marketing and referral marketing are like a match made in heaven. They have much more in common than you might think. Look at the pros of both of them and connect the dots together: 

  1. With the huge audience potential offered by social media, your referral program has a high chance of reaching a lot of people and bringing new customers to your company.
  1. Both social media marketing and referral programs are low cost and highly effective, giving you a competitive advantage thanks to the possibility to save money on advertising and promoting your business.
  1. Both social media and referral programs contribute to increasing your online visibility and make your company grow faster.
  1. Being active on social media increases your credibility and gives potential customers the courage to try your company for the first time and perhaps become loyal clients. 
  1. Because you are active and engage with your customers on social media in fun ways, as well as offer attractive incentives, your customers will be more than happy to stay with you for longer, which means more profit for you. 
  1. Neither social media or referrals require a lot of time or effort once they are up and running as they are marketing strategies that can be automated. This is an important point because it allows you to save a lot of time and focus on other aspects of your business.

Find out yourself

What do you think, then? At EarlyParrot, we believe that social media and referral marketing are best friends and, when used appropriately, can boost a company’s performance significantly.

If you want to dive into the referral marketing topic, check out our blog. You will find many interesting pieces there on how to start out with and fulfill the whole potential of referrals.

ParrotInsider #8: Organise your online event with EarlyParrot

Online/virtual meetings and events began to spring up like mushrooms as the world moved into remote and online mode. Since we are slowly getting back to “normal”, offline meetings are ready to come back, but that doesn’t mean online events are going to disappear. They have become a convenient way to meet with people, teach, and learn from anywhere in the world. Numerous business events have been held online, and plenty more will be in the future too. 

How to organise such an event and stand out from the crowd of online classes, webinars and virtual meetings? We have some ideas. To begin, let’s define what virtual events are. 

What is an online event?

As the name suggests, it is an event that takes place online. It gathers groups of people who may or may not have paid for an entrance fee in front of their laptops or mobiles to watch a broadcast over the internet. Such events can be hosted on a variety of platforms:

  • dedicated ones like Zoom, LiveWebinar, or ClickMeeting, etc.
  • social media like Instagram or Facebook (mostly live streams)

Moreover there is also the ability to broadcast your e.g. LiveWebinar meeting to Facebook.

Such virtual events could be conferences, online classes, webinars, or private live streams. Furthermore, if we focus on the term event, we can say that business fairs and employee training count too. 

This can all be summed up in the one sentence that a group of people meet online, using their digital devices to speak with and listen to one another. It may be a situation where everybody is allowed to talk and contribute a few words to the conversation, or only an invited expert is given a speaking role. 

One of the biggest advantages of such events is that they are relatively easy to organize. All you need is an electronic device,  an internet connection, and people who wish to participate or attend.

How to organise an online event?

Organising a physical event may involve lots of planning – a venue, guest list, food and drink, invites, the agenda, etc. The process is so much simpler with online events! You do not need to book a venue or choose a caterer. Nevertheless, there are a couple of issues worth discussing, which we will do below.

#1 What is your goal?

Setting goals determines the whole process. Why do you want to organise your event?  To gather a few specialists and let them share the knowledge, to present you business/offer, or promote new products? And an even more important question is what do you want to achieve? Here are some examples of such goals:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Boost lead generation
  • Promote a new product launch
  • Present your brand on the new market

Determining your goal is the first step to organising a blockbuster event! You have probably heard about the SMART rule. It is a very common and simple principle, yet it is proven to work. According to this rule your goal should be:

  • S for Specific – you have to be precise and clear about what you want to achieve (what, when, and who will be involved, etc.)
  • M for Measurable – “how many” or “how much” questions are here to help you, this way it will be easier for you to follow the progress.
  • A for Achievable when setting goals you should keep both feet on the ground, otherwise it could be hard to achieve aims that are too ambitious.
  • R for Relevant – on the other hand, your goals should be meaningful for your business, so they should bring (positive) change.
  • T for Time bound – setting a time frame is crucial for achieving your goals and progress is crucial in order to consider them as achieved.

#2 Select the right type of the online event

Before you start organising, choose the event type. Here is a list of the most popular ones: 

  • Webinars give you the opportunity to network with professionals around the world. By hosting a webinar, you can increase your brand recognition and expand your network in the virtual world. It is also a great way to present yourself as a professional and share your knowledge with others.
  • Virtual conference – large gatherings can be hosted online without the need for costly venues or many staff, and this is the beauty of online events. They are official occasions during which you and the guests can talk about business-related issues and exchange your experience with one another.
  • Live streaming allows you to meet with your audience in real-time, without the need to send loads of invitations in advance. Such events can be more spontaneous and less formal. Also, they are a great way to meet your followers and answer some questions or show them new products.

#3 Choose your fighter i.e. a platform

The software you choose is the online equivalent of a venue, but it is definitely easier to arrange. There are dozens of possibilities out there, you just have to choose your perfect tool. What element should you pay most attention to? For example, audio and video quality should be as high as possible. Moreover, take a glance at pricing options, sometimes one tool’s business plan can cover the same basic features as another’s standard plan. Also, it would be nice to use some advanced features to improve the comfort of the audience and their user experience, so do some research on what is offered and the pricing plans.

There are many popular platforms to choose from, but check out LiveWebinar if you want to offer amazing content directly from your browser (no need to install another app on your laptop). There are four pricing options (custom included), so simply choose the most suitable one for you and move to step four.

#4 Invite the speakers

If you want to invite a few experts, you should ask about their availability in advance. Each of them should be given limited time so they do not drag out the whole event. Of course, each of them should have an extra few minutes after speaking for little Q&A sessions. The guests you invite are making an investment of time to share their knowledge, which could raise audience engagement as well as present your brand as professional and well-positioned on the market. 

As you may have noticed, great speakers increase the quality of virtual events, so it is worth putting in a bit of effort to invite outstanding people from the industry to share their insights. Don’t forget about the formal aspects of such cooperation – contracts, terms, and payments should be covered at the very beginning of the discussion. Be professional about that. 

#5 Set the agenda

After you invite the speakers, you can create the schedule, which will be very helpful for promoting your online summit. All you have to do is to decide on the limited time span that each of your guests will have, then add a few minutes for Q&A sessions, and consider the order that they will speak in. Of course, as an organiser, you should start the event by saying a few words to introduce the guests and explain the reasons why you are all gathered there. If your online event is expected to last for a few hours, short breaks will be required too. 

By planning the schedule, you will be able to deliver your participants clear messages about what is coming and when. This will be useful information for people who can’t (or don’t want to) participate in the whole event. 

Speaking of the agenda, there is one more issue to cover – what time and day of the week is the best to organize an online event? It is clear that weekends are a big no if you are running business training. If you want to plan a hobby related event, like yoga classes or something like that, then the weekend may actually be a good choice though. But let’s get back to the business model – if you have plans to arrange a virtual summit for IT business owners or a webinar about improving skills then you should schedule it on a weekday. Wednesdays are said to be the best days, right in the middle of the week. Mondays are not the right choices because very often, everybody has tons of work to catch up on after the weekend and that may last until Tuesday. Thursdays and Fridays are the second half of the week, during which everybody is looking forward to the weekend and relaxing. So Wednesdays it is, when that is possible.

Now what time is the right time? It depends on the form of your event. If you want to organise workshops for a whole team, it would be great to gather them around their lunch break (11 am to 2 pm, say). This way your audience will be in a good mood and still have a fresh and open mind, ready to learn. If you want to arrange a webinar that people will attend privately, not as an employee of a given business, then early evening around 6 to 7 pm should be good. Also, when you are choosing the perfect date and time, remember about time zones if you are aiming to attract a global audience.

#6 Ready, set, promote!

You’ve got the theoretical plan so now it is time to work! You know who, what, and when so let people know about your event! What should you do first? Use your email list or social media platform to spread the news. Set up a Facebook or LinkedIn event and invite people to a page on which you present an online program, show the agenda and… ask people for help! If you want the potential audience to engage, use referrals! With the right referral marketing tool, you can give each of your participants links thanks to which their invited  friends and/or themselves will receive incentives like a coupon for your store or discount code for your next event. Thanks to referral marketing you will be able to acquire qualified leads, so it is an amazing option for creating bonds with potential clients. All you have to do is to create a referral program, and with EarlyParrot you can in a flash!

First, create an account, then choose your goal, and let the tool do the work for you. It indicates what step is next and what information is required. Once you have created a whole referral program, you can brand referral URLs and spread the news to your whole email list. Moreover, you can encourage the speakers to share referral links so that information about your event reaches a wider audience.

To sum up

Organising an online event can provide your users with a whole new and better user experience. As you will obtain a bundle of new leads, you can prove your expertise in your field and demonstrate your brand’s strong position in your niche. 

Moreover, you will likely rank higher in people’s minds and remain there longer by inviting some famous names to speak at your events.  This will also cause people to associate you with a willingness to share knowledge and experience.

If you want to arrange an online event, keep in mind this article. You can come back to it every time you are planning something new, use it to organise your work, and check what has been completed or what needs to be done before each event. 

Are you ready to conquer the online events market?