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Case Study: Leveraging Social Referrals for Hair-raising Results

By: Trevor Legwinski
Posted: February 1, 2012, from the January 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

With the explosion of social media, beauty brands and retailers have become increasingly aware of the important role their consumers play in fueling the purchasing funnel. Research shows recommendations from peers or opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of marketing. According to the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trust consumer opinions posted online. 

This research, when leveraged with the power of social media, provides beauty brands and their retail partners the opportunity to tap into their consumers and turn them into a highly effective marketing channel. Folica—an e-commerce website for hair products, tools and expert advice on care and styling (www.folica.com)—did just that.

The Case

By taking a closer look at its customer data, Folica noticed its consumers were doing the marketing for them by referring their friends to the Folica website. Folica’s consumers had organically become the brand’s own social advocates, voluntarily recommending the Folica website and inviting their friends to check it out. Wanting to leverage this trend and accelerate the process, Folica launched a social referral program in June 2011. Powered by Extole, the referral program was introduced and launched via Folica’s 850,000-strong e-mail subscribers. 

The e-mail was sent to all subscribers explaining the referral campaign. The concept was simple: Consumers who referred others received a $10 credit toward future purchases at Folica.com when a referral resulted in a purchase. The referred customers also received a $10 credit as an incentive to make their first purchases from the e-retailer.

To further propel the reach of the referral program, Folica also used its owned media channels to promote the offer. Its website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, customer newsletter and dedicated e-mail blasts were all used to announce and drive to the program. Existing Folica customers received an invitation to refer their friends from each of these channels. These customers then became online social influencers and started to refer their friends to the brand. They posted directly into their Facebook news feeds, e-mailed their friends, tweeted and reached out via other online methods.