What is Social Media Referral Marketing?

If you’re looking to ramp up your marketing output, it’s best to leverage social media to boost your referral program. With expansive outreach and influencer partnerships on social media, all you need is a brilliant referral marketing strategy

Abdul Wahab

Abdul Wahab

· 9 min read
What is Social Media Referral Marketing?

Technology is steering the modern world, whether it’s the way we connect with each other or go shopping. Social media, a channel originally designed to take human connectivity online, is shaping the way people buy and sell things.

Turns out, there’s more to using social media than posting collages on Facebook or commenting on tweets multiple times a day. The platform has become a playing ground for startups and enterprises to advertise their offerings, engage prospects, and increase sales.

But with the commotion online, it demands a promising strategy to reach your target audience - and no typical media ads will not cut it. Businesses thrive on trust and peer-to-peer connection, setting the stage for a perfect social media x referral marketing crossover.

If you’re looking to ramp up your marketing output, it’s best to leverage social media to boost your referral program. With expansive outreach and influencer partnerships on social media, all you need is a brilliant referral marketing strategy to drive growth. Learn everything about social media referral marketing you need to build a dynamic online presence.

What is a Social Media Referral Program?

Referral marketing is powered by gripping word of mouth passed around in social circles. In modern-day economics, these social circles are not limited to friendly connections and in-person meetings but rather surround an entire digital ecosystem.

Any positive or negative experience with a brand can now reach millions including potential customers who might be preparing for a purchase. A social media referral program is inherently a word-of-mouth strategy that involves sharing a company’s products or services with friends and followers on social media.

Any leads that arrive on your referral landing through a referral link shared over a social network, are termed as social referrals. They are prospects who show an interest in your referral offer or the product launch it’s set to popularize.

3 Reasons Why Social Media and Referral Marketing Programs are a Perfect Match

Harboring billions of users, social media has surpassed paid search platforms in terms of annual ad spend, exceeding $137 billion, exhibiting a 25% year-on-year growth. Once you build a satisfied user base, It goes without saying that running a referral program on social media drastically improves your prospects of success.

Implemented right, referral marketing can capitalize on your happy customers compelling them to share with friends what they like about you on social media. An effective social media marketing strategy can augment the growth of your referral campaign because:

Generate Awareness Beyond the Target Audience

For many users, social media has become a place to unwind, express their views, and share experiences with friends and even strangers. If your company caters to millennials and Gen Z audiences, chances are they’re already posting their views about you on their social profiles - it’s your job as a marketer to ensure they’re in your favor.

Unlike targeted paid ads that aim at a particular audience demographic, referral programs get you access beyond your primary prospects. Friends and social media followers of your existing customers may not align with your program’s target demographic but still show an interest in your offering thanks to a friendly recommendation.

Establish Social Proof

Baring a few, but following others into doing something is a general human trait, which holds true especially for customers. Most people feel generally inclined to buy a product or service if someone within their social circle is buying it, even without a direct recommendation.

Seeing a majority talking about a product or preferring a brand over others, establishes social proof that adds to its overall credibility. Word of mouth from someone you know can be an incredible motivator to try out a new product.

Study shows that people are 4 times as likely to buy something when referred by a friend. Is it any wonder that referred customers spend twice as much time with a company, than ones acquired via traditional methods? Online recommendations reinforce the same trust, compelling people to oblige.

Tap Viral Growth

Whether it’s an experience, a funny post, or a new product they recently purchased, people love sharing on social media. Suppose, one of your customers joins your referral program and boasts about it on their social profile, it could possibly reach hundreds or thousands of potential customers who otherwise would’ve been left unattended.

The more people you reach through your existing customers creates a type of social currency. Prospects after coming across your referral program are bound to participate or at least check what the hype is all about. As referred customers speak of their success on social platforms creates a viral loop of leads.

7 Best Practices to Run an Impressive Social Media Referral Program

Instead of hunting for leads on your own, a referral program passes it onto your customer base. Incentivize your customers to talk about your brand on different social media channels, and the leads will follow. With no geographical barrier to entry, done right, you can tap viral growth reach across borders. Here are 8 strategies to run an impressive referral campaign on social media.

Make Sharing Easy on Platforms that Matter

Marketers often conduct a target audience demographic to identify what social platforms they use most often. However, people on average bounce between seven different social networks every month.

Instead of limiting your social media strategy to a single platform, target all mainstream channels including Facebook, X (Twitter), LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Whatsapp.

Besides actively publishing referral content across channels, make sure you include a dedicated link to your referral landing page. Anyone who shows an interest in your offering will most likely want to share it with their friends. Equip them with all necessary tools and integrations, so they can promote your referral program via the channels they are most used to.

Bloom refer-a-friend landing page with social media integrations.
Image Source

Keep an Active Social Media Profile

Designing a referral campaign in-house can be a major undertaking, but the job doesn’t end there. In an ever-competitive business space, holding back in brand promotion can cost you valuable customers. After you put in the hard work at designing the right strategy and integrating popular social sharing options, it’s time to build hype around it so prospects can notice you.

Prioritize marketing channels where your customers remain most active, anticipating updates from your brand. Share videos shorts and posts regarding your referral program once a week to jog memories of your clients who may miss out on the crucial offer.

The biggest attraction of your referral marketing program is the referral incentive it carries. Highlight it with attractive imagery and bold headlines to catch the audience’s attention. Here’s how Boxed presents it’s referral program offer on Facebook.

Boxed’s Facebook post about the referral program.
Image Source

Create Impressive Social Media Bios

Social media bios might be the most overlooked component of a promotion strategy, but it’s hardly undermined by customers. A curious customer may consider reviewing your business profile first to learn more about your company, before clicking on the referral link.

Make sure your profile features a compelling bio that introduces your brand in a way that compels visitors to take the offer. It doesn’t have to be a long introductory paragraph of your products and services, but a rather quick description of your brand harboring a link to your referral page. Here’s how Zen Media wrote their social media bio to attract new customers.

 Zen Media bio for their social page
Image Source

Convey a Humanized Brand Story

In an economy that’s dependent on trust and human connection, there’s not much room for paid adverts. To attract new customers and convert them into loyal advocates to propel brand messages, companies ought to develop a deeper connection with their prospects beyond their transactional value.

No better way of kickstarting consumer relations than presenting yourself as more human-like than a corporate entity. More often than not, the companies that have a close-knit community of loyal customers stand out on behalf of their humanized brand image.

Every brand has an origin story, and sharing it on social media can help humanize your brand. Discuss how your company was founded, the challenges you've overcome, and the mission that drives you. People love to support brands with a compelling narrative.

Airbnb’s impactful storytelling on an Instagram post.
Image Source

Portray success stories of existing customers about how they benefited from your referral program. Show that your campaign is not all facade but rather recognizes customers that bring you new business.

Allow Customers to Personalize the Sharing Message

No other marketing strategy is more malleable and consumer-friendly than a word-of-mouth campaign. Even though it’s reliant on advocates sharing your brand message from their social media profiles, you have the final say in ensuring how it reaches your customers.

Personalized referrals have a much bigger impact on changing the audience’s perspective around your brand. Compared to generic ad posts, people tend to pay closer attention to messages that are sent by their closest aides. Some effective ways to accomplish that are:

  • Offer customizable templates or message suggestions that advocates can use as a starting point.
  • Allow referrers to input their name or username alongside the referral email or social media post.
  • Tag the referrer's name on the landing page as well, if a person channels in through their associated referral link.
  • Give customers access to user-friendly tools or platforms that make it easy for them to customize and ask for referrals.
  • Prompt referrers to add user-generated images in the referral message that vouches for their constant support and credibility of your brand.
  • Airbnb, a global hospitality enterprise, displays the referrer’s name and profile on the landing page if a customer taps in using the shared referral code.
Airbnb referral landing page.
Image Source

Make Your Referral Campaign Smartphone-Ready

Smartphone usage is on the rise globally, and with it social media’s popularity. An average user spends more than five hours on their smartphone daily, which in a way influences their thoughts and behaviors.

Over 76% of consumers purchase products they initially see in social media posts, making it crucial to a company’s referral campaign. To capitalize on the growing marketing and widespread audiences, businesses need to devise mobile-centric campaigns.

On social media feeds, you don’t just have to outsmart competitors with better referral offers but overshadow other sponsored posts with more eye-catching and intuitive designs. Insert big and bold sharing buttons on the UI interface that are easy to spot and tap.

Integrate your mobile app referral programs with the button that draws customers straight from the social platform to your dedicated referral page. Tabbed Out’s mobile-driven referral program allows customers to participate in the program directly from the app.

Tabbed Out mobile app referral program.
Image Source

Recognize Your Key Referrers on Social Profiles

Customers love being accredited for their efforts. Though rewards are a bigger incentive, a few words of appreciation or a badge for the best referrers would add to their confidence and loyalty to your brand.

Give an honorary mention to your top advocates for the month on your social profile. You can use that to feature their testimonials about why they love your brand and what made them refer it to others.

The appreciation you give your audience pays back in terms of credibility and consumer satisfaction. The spotlight they receive can also serve as a motivation for prospects to keep referring and bring in more leads.

Closing Note

Doesn’t matter if you’re running an e-commerce store, a B2B enterprise, or a SaaS startup, promoting your campaign on social media platforms is crucial to building brand awareness and tackling a widespread audience.

But keeping a dynamic social media presence and publishing referral posts, all while you’re gearing up for a product launch can be challenging.

If you’re aiming to scale up and boost customer acquisition, managing referral marketing operations in-house will be a losing battle. Sign Prefinery.com to improve your prospects for a compelling social media referral marketing campaign.


What is a social media referral program?

A social media referral program is a word-of-mouth strategy whereby businesses encourage their existing customers and followers to promote their products to their own social networks. In exchange for a successful referral, participants are rewarded with various rewards and company recognition, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the brand and its advocates.

What are the benefits of implementing a social media referral program?

A social media referral program can help:

  • Expand your customer base through word-of-mouth.
  • Leverage the trust and influence of brand advocates and loyal customers.
  • Increase brand awareness and online visibility.
  • Measurable ROI through tracking and analytics.
  • Foster brand loyalty among customers.

The essential element in your growth stack.

On average, our customers boost their leads by a whopping 40%.

Unlimited free trial · No credit card required