When you’re on vacation and looking for the best steak in town, you ask one of the locals while filling up with gasoline. If you’re looking for a hot tip on where to have your car repaired, you ask friends who have recently had work done. From finding a dog groomer to learning the scoop on the newest museum exhibit, people have always counted on the power of good, old-fashioned conversation.
In the 21st century, word of mouth isn’t what it used to be. While it’s still great to get an unsolicited recommendation from a client or a referral from a satisfied customer, chances are good that when people are spreading information, both positive and negative, they’re doing it online via a social media platform.
- 91% of American adults who are online use social media and spend nearly a quarter of their time in social media.
- Facebook has more than 800 million global users and 40% log on every day.
- As of March, Google+ had more than 100 million users.
- Twitter has more than 140 million users, and sees more than 340 million tweets each day.
And those listed above are just some of the most popular social sites. There are hundreds of other, lesser known sites with names like Digg, Tweako, and 43 Things. While these have fewer users, these users often share an interest.
Start spreading the word
Through the effective use of social media, it’s easier than ever to reach out to your current customers and get the attention of potential customers. It begins with planning. Find out where your customers and potential customers are spending their time online, determine your goals, create a plan to reach your goal, and start the conversation. Through the use of social media, you can make it easy for people to talk about you by providing information that’s relevant, has value, offers rewards, and makes people want to do business with you.
If you’re not sure what to post, the following is a list to get you started:
- Expert advice
- Useful information
- Special promotions
- New employees
- New services
- Company Events
- Industry news
- Community outreach
- External links to useful information
- Insert your idea here
Creating buzz online is quite the same as what you’ve been doing all along with good word of mouth advertising. Most importantly, keep it real. Those who are interested in following you and sharing your posts don’t want to be “sold”. They want to know who you really are.
Interaction is a two-way street
Once you get people talking, it’s your job to keep the conversation moving. Monitor comments and responses, and talk back. Think of it as talking to a friend. You may be surprised at the value ideas, insights, and suggestions of your followers and fans bring to your business.
A word of caution
Developing and maintaining a successful social media presence takes time. The 4th annual Social Media Marketing Report recently released by the Social Media Examiner found that creating loyal relationships requires an investment of time. The report based on more than 3,800 responses from marketers in different industries and organizations indicated that 60% of those spending at least six hours a week found benefit in using social as a platform to acquire loyal customers, compared to just 46% of those spending five hours or less per week.
Social media is today’s version of word of mouth marketing. Make it easy for your customers to tell people about you by implementing a social media strategy that is worth talking about.