Why social media marketing is really just word of mouth marketing on steroids

There’s been a lot of coverage in expert blog circles about the remarkable similarities between Social Media Marketing (SMM) and Word of Mouth (WOM).

Actually some experts add the word ‘marketing’ to ‘word of mouth’ to create Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM).  Apparently in the USA there is a Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) – and why not. It’s the original form of marketing, as old as the hills. You tell me something good about who you bought from, I buy, and then I go tell someone else.

You know the deal.

WOM(M) is widely acknowledged to be the most valuable form of marketing there is.

Why is that?

The number one answer is simple: if you recommend I buy from a particular supplier, and I trust what you tell me, I’m overwhelmingly likely to buy.

The key element in this is not the recommendation though. It’s the trust.

And that’s why in traditional WOM(M) scenarios, people follow recommendations from friends and family first before those of others.

The key premise of the similarity argument is that many of the dynamics involved in social media marketing and WOM(M) are exactly the same. Take a look at the table below:

table

Did you notice anything different about the bottom four statements?

WOM doesn’t cut it for these four areas, but Social Media Marketing does.

Here’s why.

You can harness Social Media as a marketing tool and integrate it properly into your marketing programme, fairly easily if you know how. The various techniques, tools and channels are covered widely elsewhere, but here are some key examples of what can be achieved with a proactive Social Media Marketing programme:

  • SEO

If SEO is the driver for attracting new visitors to your website, SMM – and in particular the content that you share via your chosen social media channels – is the fuel in the tank.

The reason is simple. All of Google’s recent algorithm updates have pushed ‘traditional’ SEO techniques over the edge of a cliff, to the point where all they’re interested about is good quality, relevant content.

That content is shared via your social media presence. The more your social media presence gains in popularity, the more relevant Google will see you to be. Some might argue that a key reason for this is their determination to see the success (via increased adoption) of Google+.

  • Market Engagement

The big brands use SMM proactively to reach out and connect with people who have never bought from them. They may never have seen or heard an advert. Their efforts are predicated on a single desire: sharing

At the start of the buying cycle, customers are intransigent yet open to attraction by messages they consider to be relevant. These messages are shared by recipients who think they might be relevant to others.

And it’s relevance in social media that is the absolute key. The 2 key measures of relevance are usefulness (e.g. helpful, educational) and entertaining (e.g. funny, interesting).

Give me something useful and/or entertaining and I’ll probably be a) pleased and b) happy to share.

  •   Customer service and retention

It’s not just the quest for new customers that drives businesses to use social media marketing. Social Media is also becoming an invaluable tool for managing relationships with existing customers.

We all know that customers who feel loved and cared for by their suppliers are much more likely to remain as customers than those who don’t.

By reaching out to clients via social media, businesses can send the critically important message that they want to stay in touch, because they care about keeping the relationship going. Increasingly, this isn’t seen as a cynical or corny gimmick.

Because as savvy customers know, these businesses are also saying “let us help you spend your money more wisely, give you more choice and tell us what you think of us”.

So: is social media marketing just word of mouth on steroids? Or are you still not convinced?

Why not sign up for one of our Social Media Marketing Training Workshops and get the low down on how it can help your business!

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