In a December 2010 Harvard Business Review article, David C. Edelman suggested that because today's consumers are connecting with brands in new ways—often via channels not controlled by the brand—traditional marketing strategies and structures need to be rethought, and some should even be considered obsolete.

Edelman's article, titled "Branding in the Digital Age. You're Spending Money in All the Wrong Places," referred to research written by David Court and others called the "Consumer Decision Journey," which appeared in the June 2009 issue of the McKinsey report.

According to the theory, consumers used to be systematic about selecting a product by narrowing down choices and making a final selection—a process known, more or less, as the traditional "marketing funnel." "The Consumer Decision Journey" proposed a much more iterative path to a purchase, with four stages—consider, evaluate, buy, and bond—followed by three stages: enjoy, advocate, and bond.

Graphic based on "The Consumer Decision Journey," David Court, McKinsey Quarterly.

These new touch points that open up along the Consumer Decision Journey become opportunities for a brand to influence its consumers before, during, and, very important, after purchase. Social is a perfect place for embracing those touch points.

Fast forward to 2012, and the Consumer Decision Journey has evolved into a Social Loyalty Loop with vast touch points. Brands are building social campaign experiences that spread from one brand loyalist to her friends and create a powerful social loyalty loop that, when done effectively, continues to cultivate brand loyalists.

Here are four ways marketers can fuel such a social loyalty loop.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Roger Katz

Roger Katz is CEO of Friend2Friend, which offers social media tools and software that enable brand marketers to engage consumers on Facebook and LinkedIn. Reach him via roger@friend2friend.com.

LinkedIn: Roger Katz