Social Advocacy and Its Impact on Loyalty
By Alan E. Young CEO & Co-founder, Puzzle Partner, Ltd. | January 31, 2016
When it comes to identifying a brand advocate, nothing can rival the passion and loyalty of a sports fan. While it is highly unlikely that we will ever witness a colleague walking into the office sporting a Marriott™ logo on their t-shirt while shouting, "Guess where I'm going tonight?", hoteliers are striving to capture that same level of enthusiasm with their guests.
Social media has forever changed the way consumers interacts with brands. Static, points based loyalty programs may encourage repeat business, however, they fall short in converting guests into true advocates. Has the traditional loyalty model become ineffective? What is the difference between loyalty and advocacy? How to create a compelling advocate marketing plan? Most importantly, can we measure an ROI on advocacy?
These questions should be deliberated to formulate the brand position and messaging during the marketing planning stage. Advocacy has become a critical element in capturing market share and can no longer be ignored due to the explosion of content posted by guests through social media channels. According to *IBM's Global Chief Marketing Officer Study*, "CMOs see enhancing customer loyalty and advocacy as their top priority to manage the shift to digital technologies."
Has the Traditional Loyalty Model Become Ineffective?
Hotel loyalty programs have been around for decades. What started as a way of recognizing and rewarding loyal customers has turned into a costly marketing expense. Assessing the benefits of reward programs beyond just matching competitor offerings has become increasingly difficult. In fact, a recent study by *Cornell* University states the three major barriers to evaluating current loyalty programs are: commoditization, data overload, and expense.
Commoditization of Reward Programs
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