Attention small business owners: Word-of-mouth marketing is still the best way to draw attention to your business.
A new study by Sitel done in Jan. 2012 shows only 28.7 percent of Gen-Y makes purchase decisions based on what friends "Like" on the social networks. You’re still seeing more impact in the physical realm with 46.9 percent influence of in-store promotion, and 44.3 percent of word-of-mouth.
Social media is best served to initiate conversations between company and consumer. It is through these conversations that you would like to convert into sales. The way to do that is to take your virtual 2-D relationship, and transfer that into the physical 3-D world.
Here are the ABC’s to converting social media to word-of-mouth marketing.
A. Attract and retain
It’s not enough to merely have a mediocre social media presence. You need to actively promote to your core audience, and then keep them coming back. Have a look at what your competitors are doing and see what's working for them. Don’t just blast out posts full of self-promotion, or new deals. Cater posts to illicit a positive response from your customers. This will drive them back to your site to see what else you are posting about. By doing this you begin to end up on the news feed of your customer, and in turn they will start to alert their friends about your business.
B. Better engagement
Now that your customers are beginning to engage with you via social media, you have to engage back. Make sure you respond to all comments on your posts (both good and bad) in order to establish a strong bond with your customers. Engaging them on your site makes your customers feel unique—which in turn will make them vocally praise your business to their friends and family. If a customer is championing your business on social media, thank them. You’ll brand your business as a company that cares deeply for their customers.
Once you have attracted and engaged with your customers through social media, it’s time to get them in your store or on the phone. Human contact has a much larger impact on converting us into hard sales than just browsing online. Whatever your product is, communicate with your customers on what they’re looking for, then tell them to stop by the shop, or give you a ring. It’s important that everyone on your team is an expert in what you’re selling. If a new customer has questions, concerns or comments, it’s important anyone on the phone or in the store can communicate the right answers and responses.
In October 2011, Facebook launched Insights, a measuring tool, which enables companies to track how many people are talking about their posts, and who their messages are reaching. Seeing which posts have the most impact on your Facebook fans through engagement allows you to decide what type of posts to focus on. “Research shows that word-of-mouth conversations among friends are the most influential for getting a brand’s message across,” Facebook said in its press release. Take these tools, and the ABC’s laid out before you, and see what impact social media word-of-mouth has your business.
Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management consulting firm. Subscribe to his updates at Facebook.com/DanSchawbel.
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