Virtual Word of Mouth Marketing

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Many companies are diligently establishing a presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Yet, the true value of social networks is still unclear. Few companies have unlocked this potential, and others are slow to amp up their efforts.

You need to see how social media can affect your bottom line. All the likes, +1’s, and retweets in the world won’t matter if it doesn’t translate to increased sales, greater brand recognition, or conversion. So how can you ensure that your efforts on social media are bringing actual value to your company?

The answer to this question is simpler than people are making it. Take a new medium, and use it to accomplish a goal as old as time – word of mouth marketing. Traditionally, word of mouth has been considered the best marketing. This is a no-brainer. People are infinitely more likely to trust a product or company if they hear about it from someone they trust. If you treat social media as the virtual version of word of mouth marketing, customer reviews and their virutal footprints say, “I was here. And, you should be too,” to potential customers far better than you ever could.

Word of mouth advertising generated by social media must be earned, unlike traditional advertising, which can be purchased. So your challenge is to find a way in which your brand offers value to those spreading virtual word of mouth accolades, and reward users when they do.

Recognition is one of the most important drivers of participation. An essential component of any initiative is to build in ‘fame feedback loops’ into whatever word of mouth or user-generated content program you do. Essentially, make your users feel important by validating their opinion. Systems are already in place on social networks for you to accomplish this. Scoring, badges, points, credits are integral aspects of the user experience on social sites. Uses of these make word of mouth a competition for your audience with tangible rewards.

Use these rewards sparingly. In other words, don’t “bribe” users for their feedback. This will only diminish the effect their feedback has on other users. Plus, voluntary feedback from a few will be much more genuine and valuable than coaxed feedback from many.

By simply approaching social media as a new “tool” to accomplish old goals, rather than trying to rearrange your business to fit social media, you will be well ahead of your competition. If you have a product worth talking about, and reward consumers for doing so, social media will be a simple and effective marketing tool.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jason Savage
Jason provides client support in the areas of content marketing and social media, bringing a unique mix of marketing insight and creativity to his work.

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