Sunday, 21 February 2016

Social media word-of-mouth: you have to own it to earn it

Homer Parrot

So you've got your all of your shit together on your main social media channels. That's great. Well done. Your Twitter looks brilliant - it's growing. Your Facebook looks beautiful. Your Instagram and Youtube offerings are so slick and clean that you could eat your dinner off of them. You respond to people when they get in touch with you. People get in touch with you because they know where to find you.

That's great - you're roughly 25% (if that) of the way to being a truly social business. Sorry to break it to you. If it's any consolation, I felt the same way too when the penny dropped.

Let me break it down for you: You've got a great product, and through some excellent marketing, other people know about your product. They know what it is. They're contacting you about it. But are you earning that little extra bit of goodwill? Are people recommending your products to other people on social media. Because that, my friends, is the next frontier.

If you're basing your social media strategy on waiting for your customers to come through the door, to come to you, to follow you, then your missing out on a whole lot of love on social media. Yes, having a great-looking shop-front and friendly staff (I love a good bricks-and-mortar analogy) is a good start, but that is exactly that: a start. The next bit is the hard bit - earning your social media props, almost unprompted, from your adoring public. Full-on, moon-landing, Buzz Aldrin in the back of a car in his spacesuit levels of adulation.

Here are a three quick and dirty tips to get you started on the road to getting some good earned social media from your audience:

1. Make it easy for them: your audience have better things to do that talk about you. It's true. Do you think that I spend my whole day telling people about great products and services? I don't. I'm not a walking billboard. But I hope that means that when I do mention something, people sit up and take notice.

This is a fact: according to Nielsen, 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products. And when it comes to B2B, that number rises to a whopping 91%. So make sure it's easy for them to recommend you: ensure that you have sharing buttons placed strategically around your site, and make sure that customers can leave reviews on your products or services - good, average or bad.

2. Make it easy for yourself: here's the good news - your customers are probably already talking about you online. This could either be brilliant, or terrible. Either way, you probably don't know yet, unless they've mentioned you directly. There are lots of ways that you can tap into this information. Social media listening tools like Brandwatch and Sysomos have access to millions of listening points, and you can use boolean (I love that word) search to refine your searches.

Additionally, make IFTTT your best friend. It's a triggering site (not in the 'scares the shit out of you' sense), which allows a multitude of different platforms to talk to one another in a way that benefits you. I'm going to write a full-explainer on it next week, so I'll pop it up here at soon as I have it. In the meantime, get to know it. In addition to this, make sure you've also made friends with the advanced search functions on Twitter - they're actually not bad.

3. Give them an incentive: according to Software Advice, more than 50% of people are likely to give a referral if offered a direct incentive, social recognition or access to an exclusive loyalty program. So what are you waiting for? This is gold-dust. These people are literally asking you to be part of a loyalty program. They're asking to be marketed to. They're asking to hear about the coolest stuff first. That's an incentive for creating one for you. If you make it easier for them to share this information with friends, colleagues and family via social media, this is the closest thing to an open goal that you can get. Look into creating an early-access/sneak peak program as soon as possible. Make sure that you are sourcing active social media users. Their mentions are gold-dust for you. Make them feel special.

I hope you've found these tips useful. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and I want to crowd-source as many tips as possible, so please feel free to leave your own tips below.

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