social media how toDo you want to build stronger relationships with your social media followers?

Have you considered launching a loyalty program?

A loyalty program is an excellent way to gain audience insights while rewarding your most engaged fans.

In this article I’ll explain how to run effective loyalty programs with social media.

Loyalty Program Basics

Loyalty programs are ongoing campaigns that use rewards to create repetitive behavior among your customers. Participants take actions on a regular basis, and the accumulation of those actions is what benefits the company and the loyal audience.

Since user actions must be easy and achievable, it’s better to provide small rewards on an ongoing basis rather than just one big prize for an action that only a few can complete.

implement a loyalty program using social media

Discover how to implement a loyalty program using social media.

Listen to this article:

To create a loyalty program, start by deciding on a business goal. Then determine what actions users need to complete to help you reach that goal. Finally, decide how to promote and encourage those actions.

Here’s how to run different loyalty programs using social media.

#1: Reward Website Visitors

Facebook retargeting and Twitter retargeting allow you to show ads only to users who have visited specific pages of your website.

Use this technique to drive traffic through a range of pages within your website over a period of time, and reward users as they proceed to the next step or complete the process.

To do this on Facebook, use a combination of different website custom audiences. This same process can be adapted for Twitter.

jon loomer digital post

Use Facebook remarketing to target users who are already interested in your company.

Jon Loomer recently tested this. Over a few weeks, he provided new content only to users who had previously visited a specific page. Jon was able to identify his most engaged audience. Plus, his campaign costs—including conversion costs—dropped as the campaign proceeded.

jon loomer digital post

Jon provided exclusive content to users who progressed through the campaign.

How it works

Running a loyalty program with this concept is very simple:

1. Create a link ad to show to your target audience. Users clicking on that ad should be taken to a specific landing page.

2. Create a website custom audience for visitors to the landing page associated with that first ad.

3. After a few days, create a new campaign with a new link ad to show ONLY to users from the previous website custom audience. By doing this, Facebook will show your ad only to users who visited the first landing page.

4. That second link ad sends traffic to a second landing page. Create a new website custom audience of users visiting this second landing page, and so on…

progressive ad structure

Create progressive ads. Each page creates a new website custom audience used to serve the next ad, thus filtering non-interested users.

Users cannot visit a specific page if they haven’t visited the previous one. At the end of the campaign, you will have list of highly engaged users who visited all of the pages from the campaign.

It’s essential to provide something of value on each page so users have a good reason to click on your ad.

To avoid users jumping directly into an advanced step without having visited all of the previous pages (since this does not create a repetitive behavior), do not include any internal links on your website pointing at them and do not index any of these pages on search engines.

Here are a few things to keep in mind, as this method could have some complications.

  • You are dependent on Facebook. If Facebook doesn’t show an ad to a specific user due to an algorithm glitch or because you exhausted your budget, that user will be prevented from visiting the page associated with that ad. And that person will not be included in the custom audience for the next ad.
  • You are dependent on user settings. Some user actions like deleting cookies or changing devices could also affect the outcome of this process, preventing users from seeing a specific ad.

To avoid these, allow users to catch up on content they may have missed. This will also prevent them from jumping directly onto the last page to claim their reward.

Therefore, make page 1 accessible to everyone. Put the first link on your home page. Remember, the ad for this page is targeted at a broad audience, so this is not a problem. Edit page 1 to include a link to page 2 once the second ad is live and running (not before). This way, you give everyone the opportunity to revisit page 1 and keep the process going. Then repeat this process as you include more ads.

#2: Reward Ongoing Facebook Engagement

If your goal is to increase your Facebook organic reach, you’ll need to increase user engagement. So for your loyalty program, you could provide points for each like or comment on your posts. This kind of incentive is probably the easiest way to create a loyalty program.

There are two main advantages to this method. First, likes and comments increase exposure. As your fans engage with your content, that content will also reach some of their friends, and they may join the program as well. Plus, users will actively look for your content and engage with it, and that extra engagement will increase your page’s organic reach.

thumbs up shutterstock 182612033

Likes increase exposure. Image: Shutterstock.

This technique is commonly used in the form of timeline promotions, where there’s usually a single winner. However, the key to generating repetitive behavior is making users feel they can earn something with each action.

How it works

Provide points for each comment or like. Then give users ways to exchange these points for something of value. Allow them to accrue and redeem points for some of your products, reward the most engaged user each week or month or offer users access to different tiers where they can obtain additional benefits.

Decide what you’re tracking and what counts as points. Then monitor the activity. Certainly you can track activity manually. However, it may be a bit of a challenge, especially if you get a lot of participation.

To help you with this task, try a third-party platform to do the hard work for you. Here’s how to do this using ShortStack.

1. Connect your page with the app and go into Forms & Promos in the top menu. Then click on Importing Entries from a Facebook Page Timeline link. Provide a name for your promotion and click on Create and Import.

shortstack login

Log into ShortStack, go to Forms & Promos and choose Importing Entries from a Facebook Page Timeline.

2. ShortStack will show you a screen that lists all of the pages you manage. Select the page where you will be running the program.

pages listed in shortstack

Select the page you’re using for the promotion.

3. Select the post you’d like to track.

posts listed in shortstack

Next, select the post you’re tracking. You can select only one post per data extract.

4. Select the different import options. Decide what type of action you’d like to track (likes, comments or both, and whether you’ll allow multiple entries from the same user, as well as in what way comments (and comment likes) count.

data from post

Select the data you want to extract from each post.

5. After you create the promotion for a single post, click on View Entries from your promotion to download all user actions.

view entries

Click on View Entries to get access to all actions from users.

6. Click on the Export button.

export entry data

The Export button will save all data into an Excel file.

All user actions will be exported into an Excel spreadsheet, along with other valuable information like date, time and user IDs. This information can also be used to create a new Facebook custom audience.

To make your loyalty program more effective, repeat this type of promotion over a period of time, exporting data from each post on your page. Then merge all the files into one unique spreadsheet and use a formula to count how many times each user ID has been found in that spreadsheet.

Publish ongoing results on a regular basis to maintain interest from users. For example, publish a post with your top 10 users each month and offer them a prize or discount for engaging with your page regularly.

#3: Reward Loyalty on Multiple Platforms

Many times, conversions for your social media activities will occur elsewhere, like on your website, a newsletter or even offline at a brick-and-mortar business.

In these cases generating repetitive behavior on social media may not be enough to achieve your business goals. However, running separate programs on different channels could be difficult to manage.

marketing puzzle shutterstock 120996316

It’s possible to track loyalty programs across different marketing channels. Image: Shutterstock.

If this is your case, you could use Antavo to integrate your loyalty program across different channels.

Integrating Antavo’s loyalty program with your website and social media accounts will require some assistance from the platform’s support team. Once this step has been completed, the tool is really easy to use and highly customizable.

To create a multi-channel loyalty program with Antavo, follow these steps:

1. Decide which user actions you’ll be tracking on each channel.

Some of the most interesting actions that you could integrate in your program are:

  • Facebook: Likes, comments, follows, check-ins, video views
  • Website: Visits to specific pages, ebook downloads, product reviews
  • Webshop: Product purchase, product reviews, referrals
  • Contests/Apps: Entries, shares or invites
  • Email: Subscription or coupon codes
  • Personal data: User location, preferences, wish lists

Don’t make the program too complex by selecting too many actions. If users perceive your program as difficult to follow, they may disengage.

keep it simple board shutterstock 173791688

Simple is better. Image: Shutterstock.

2. Decide on the program rules.

The next step is deciding how you’ll incentivize users: will you be giving points for each action? Direct rewards? Badges? Rankings? And so on…

Antavo allows running several campaigns within the same program, where users’ actions could be rewarded in different ways:

  • Rewards: These are more “tangible” incentives, like free products, priority shipping or discount coupons.
action reward

You can reward for single actions or for the accumulation of several actions.

  • Badges: These are unlockable achievements that can be collected.
reward badges

Badges can be customized and branded according to your needs.

  • Points: Users can collect points that can be redeemed for rewards later.
point rewards

Points must be accrued to claim a reward.

You could incentivize users in two additional ways:

  • Levels: Program participants can reach different tiers as they accumulate points.
  • Ranking: Users can see how they rank compared to other program participants.
user rankings

You could show user rankings to provide additional incentives; for example, the monthly top five obtain a reward.

3. Create the rules and badges required.

Finally, you need to connect user actions with each incentive and specify their values.

For example, if your goal is to increase website traffic from Facebook (step 1) and you have decided to offer a 20% off discount (step 2), now it’s time to configure which actions will be counted toward that reward.

You will need to configure each rule for each action in each channel. For example, the image below shows the rule for when users purchase more than two specific products.

defining rules

Creating the right rules could define the success of your program.

Connecting your website with Antavo’s loyalty program is done through a dedicated API, while social media actions are tracked directly through connecting the program with your Facebook account.

Furthermore, you could also design all badges, stickers and icons to include some branding in the program.

branding elements

Make sure you create some branding around your program, as many users will surely share their achievements on social media.

Program participants can see their performance via a dashboard, and thus how close or far away they are from achieving the next milestone. Understanding the outcome of each action will make users feel in control, which is another good incentive.

user overview

The ability to keep an eye on their progress will maintain users’ interest and thus increase engagement.


Loyalty programs are a step beyond promotions and competitions, where usually only a few people get rewarded. They are an effective way to boost your business results and increase user engagement.

Create a structure that rewards users after they complete specific actions. As users accumulate and redeem rewards, they only get more interested, involved and encouraged to do more.

What do you think? What is your experience with loyalty programs? Have you created them, participated in them or both? What are some good examples? Are there good apps to use to manage loyalty programs? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below.

Incentive photoThumbs up photoOnline marketing puzzle photo and Keep it simple photo from Shutterstock.
Tags: , , , , ,

Get Social Media Examiner’s Future Articles in Your Inbox!

Join 480,000+ of your peers! Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox and get the FREE Social Media Marketing Industry Report (56 pages, 90 charts)!

More info...
  • Shai Geoola

    Great article, love the ideas Antonio! Thanks for sharing. Cheers

  • Guest

    My last pay check was 5k dollars for working 12 h weekly for doing a job from my home. My sister’s friend has been making $11000 monthly for some time now and she works for about twenty hours /a week. I was suprised how easy it was after I tried it. The potential with this is endless… Check it out What I do>

  • Nache Lekwot

    Great article, thanks for sharing!!!! Cheers

  • Lance King, MBA

    I enjoyed the article! I agree that those who engage in a company’s content should be rewarded, and incentivized to come back for more! I’ll be thinking on how to incorporate this with our business the rest of the day! Are you on LinkedIn?

  • O. B.

    Great tips. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kerwin McKenzie

    Antonio, thanks.
    What other program can you for #2 instead of shortstack?

  • iSB

    Nice article, you have recommended lot of options like reward, badges etc. Can you share list of platforms which can be used to active these?

  • Thank you Shai, I’m glad you liked it.

  • Thank you Nache.

  • Reward and recognition is a proven strategy that helps maintaining existing customers while brining new ones. It’s the ‘carrot vs. stick’ metaphor… Let me know if you need any help with it.

  • Thank you O.B.

  • Thank you Kerwin. I like the way Shortstack has structured the process, but most apps offer similar options, some other alternatives are: Heyo, Woobox or Tabsite. Agorapulse offers this as an automated process where winners are selected by the app.

  • Thank you for reading it. These actions can be rewarded based on user actions on your website, eCommerce, email, Facebook…

  • Have been a fan of this site for quite some time and the way it provides actionable tips rather than generic advice. Thanks for sharing your insight, Antonio.

  • That’s really nice to hear Byoung. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Solid and worthy overview, thank you. I’ve been looking for the loyalty program that Antavo seems to offer but the price for a small business owner… $500/mo? Cannot think of many of my peers who can afford it. I understand it could be worthy for mid-cap and larger businesses. Any smaller scale alternatives to Antavo?

    I’ve seen many but they mostly cater to brick-and-mortar types of places like coffee shops, laundromat, yoga, etc., where people walk in on a regular basis and can even scan (a la punch style) their rewards cards. I am a small traffic photographer with no storefront and walk-ins but still want to keep track of various referrals, orders, shoots, etc. Any suggestions?

  • Matthias Moesl

    Really impressive actionable advice. For us it’s a bit early in our endeavours to implement but I will fill this site under “great things to do, when we have a tight hold on the basics”. 🙂 Thanks a lot.

  • Yorick Vingerhoets

    I like the way this works. But I think you should note that with this system people will engage with you because of the prize they get at the end and not because they really like what you post.
    I think the conversion rate won’t be high with this program based on the effort you have to do to implement and follow this. What do you think?
    Anyway I love how it can exponentially grow your comments and likes on social media, and so your brand visibility.

  • good article. thanks for this helpful information

  • Thank you for reading it, I’m glad you liked it.

  • Kat

    Isn’t the prize technically the conversion though? They’re working to gain points to use on product discounts, free shipping, etc. So the end of the process, for them to redeem their points, is generally a sale for you. A side benefit is the additional reach and engagement on, say, Facebook. Also, regardless of how genuine the engagement is, it will increase reach meaning people who are generally keen to engage with the content may get the opportunity to when they otherwise may not have. I think this could really help conversion rate especially in terms of repeat purchases and generating loyalty / brand advocates.

    I do agree that this would only work if the incentives are large enough for participants to spend their time completing the tasks that give them points, so this would need to be a large consideration when setting the loyalty program up.

    I know I probably wouldn’t bother for a 5% discount, but maybe if as I built up more points, the potential discount increased to a maximum of, say, 40%, I’d spend the effort to really try to build the points.

  • Guest

    Start making extra cash from your house an­d receive a pay-check on weekly basis… By doing simple internet work on your laptop… I work three hrs daily, 5 day­s every week a­nd I earn 1000 bucks e­ach week…>>>>>>>

  • I understand your concerns Ed: sometimes we got so carried away by social media that we forget real life. But you could easily find ways of combining both. For example: what about if you create a list of pages (each with its own URL), and then you give that URL to your buying customers? On that URL they can find a discount code, or a cue for their next purchase, a form to input their names… (just an idea)

    Couple of years ago I created a referral program as simple as: creating a form where users should input their friends email addresses (there were up to 10 fields for this); then using MS Excel I tracked if any of those referred people had also provided their email (thus, a referral) and reward those. A bit more complicated and manual, but it worked.

  • It all depends on the rules you create around the program. If your goal is to get engagement (and by extension, reach) then simply ask them to like or comment whatever they want; however there are other options. For example: to drive traffic and create brand awareness: post a question and ask them to answer it in their comments: only valid answers will collect points. By doing this, they will pay more attention to your message and maintain engagement, regardless of the incentives.

    Of course, the incentive must always be something related to your business, so you’ll be sure program participants are genuine.

  • Thank you for your interest. These programs could be very valuable on those early days when you need to grow followers, engagement and reach. Good luck!

  • The incentive is the conversion for the participant, NOT for you. Your conversion would be what you expect to get from that user activities, whether it is an email address, a cookie installed in their device so you can remarket to them, or something more effective such as a sale.

    There will always be people like you (and me) who won’t bother for a 5% discount. If this is the case of the majority of your audience, then you’ll need to create a different incentive and probably set of rules to make it work.

  • Tianchen Zhou

    Great tutorials. Will try it out. Thanks Antonio!

  • Timi Garai

    Thank you Antonio for including Antavo in this article :))! A loyalty program can be a really engaging marketing method, if you focus on providing value for your customers and not just rewarding them with free stuffs. Recognition and fun makes them coming back to you in the long run and that’s. 🙂

  • Hi Ed,

    As a photographer you have so many options! The best to track creatively your visitors – separately those who you have a personal connect with and then those who you have an online connection with. For example:

    1) Facebook: Motivate your fans to take part in contests. If you run a photo contest, you can ask people to upload their fav places, which you would took shoots of and then create a calendar. They can ask friends for voting and depending on the number of votes they can win 2-3 calendars for themselves. Group offer apps also can help you where a certain number of people needed to unlock the offers then they can use a coupon code.

    2) Website: A contest/group offer can be implemented here in the same way. You can even use Google Analytics tracking people.

    At the end of the campaigns you can export their data / Facebook id / name / email address/ referrals / activities / sources too. In all cases you can reward their activities with extra points, re-engaged them with emails in where you can invite them to your next special offer.

    Antavo is also capable of all these things from above :), and has smaller packages too and they start at $199/year.

  • As a marketer and as a regular shopper I would say this: not just discounts can make people to work hard. Virtual currencies like the “month of the customer”, a “special pre-order opportunity for your favourite items”, the recognition that you are someone who the ecommerce is care for can also work. Everyone can offer free stuffs, but the difference is how the the shop’s handle customers. And a loyalty program goal should be this.To show how you can provide value and not just monetary related benefits for customers.

  • thanks antonio for this great article. keep posting

  • Bruce Clark

    Thanks for the excellent article. I’m in real estate and keeping in touch with past clients is something most of us don’t do well. I’ve been working on implementing a loyalty program and welcome any suggestions.

  • Thank you Paolo.

  • Thanks for your interest Bruce. Indeed, real estate is an industry where – due to the high value of the transaction – many think there’s no opportunity for a loyalty program. However it’s all about keeping in contact with clients as well as prospects. For example, you could create a program to reward newsletter opening rates, so you ensure all your past and future clients are up to date with news.

  • Exactly Timi: the ‘free stuff’ is only the ‘carrot’ to push the behavior. But a good loyalty program requires some interesting rules that keep users engaged too!

  • Glad you liked them Tianchen. 🙂

  • Shruti Kothiwal Jain

    Thanks Antonio for the tips. Enjoyed reading the article!