The Final Word: Referral.

Social is unlike any other media in history. It is not linear. Not in the way that traditional advertising pushes out content/programming/ads and then consumers can either choose to read or watch.  In social, consumers participate in the content. And, their participation is not a private letter or phone call. It is public … on the same site to the same viewers as your original post.

Is that a good thing?  It’s great in our estimation! Great brands are coveted by their fans.  Social has a quick and often viral way of ferreting out the good from the pretenders.  Consumers are educated, experienced and not shy to weigh in with their opinions. 

And their opinions count:

  • in reviews – most consumers view peer reviews more valuable now than professional ones
  • in following – have too few followers and your brand doesn’t seem very credible
  • most importantly, in referral.

Those most passionate about your brand will follow you. We prefer to call them your ‘zealots.’  Zealots for a brand or cause willingly recommend, engage, and share … otherwise refer you to their friends. The average person on Facebook has about 300 followers (friends). Many more are being introduced to your brand for the first time by their friend, the most credible referral you can get as a brand.

Nielsen shared research results that people are four times as likely to buy when referred by a friend. Renowned sales trainer Tom Hopkins completed a study several years ago that found referred leads are closed at a ratio of 60% compared to just 10% for non-qualified leads.

Although value will vary widely by brand, $174 is a widely quoted average value of a follower (a Syncapse study found that the value was as high as $174 per Facebook like). How does that compare to your cost of prospect or new customer/donor acquisition? 

If you understand those numbers, then you understand why social media is not a nebulous or frivolous communications platform, but the most valuable marketing asset ever available to companies.  Social media’s most valuable play – that no other media can match – is its ability to engineer referral in a significant way!