How To Make People Talk About You
Successful retailers understand that online marketing, rather than simply replicating offline activities, demands of them to think differently.
But when formulating digital marketing strategies in a multi-channel world, it’s important to understand that some aspects of human behavior will never change, and these considerations are important when deciding upon your digital marketing strategy.
Word Of Mouth Is Powerful
There are few businesses that would not deem word of mouth to be a valuable business driver. This was true before the digital revolution and it remains the case now. The difference now though, is that word of mouth also exists online.
Now the very least you can do to help is put in place basic social media resources: Even if you sell boring stuff in a boring niche, do not underestimate the benefits of the personal connections you and your staff have with people outside of your business: The six degrees of separation rule is a very real one and it’s almost certain that you are connected in some way to everyone in your industry from suppliers to peers, to customers.
But this post isn’t about encouraging you why you should embrace social media – in 2014 that’s not even up for discussion. Even if you don’t like it, your customers do and they (along with search engines!) use your social resources as a proxy digital-representative of your business.
No, this post is about how we need to think differently about online marketing so that the digital word of mouth is more likely to spread – having a social presence just means you can join in the conversation – it’s happening whether you like it or not.
We Live In Tribes
The tribal nature of the web has been a popular narrative in understanding how we behave online. It exists offline too – but in the digital world these communities are joined in real time and through many more connections.
We exist in many tribes (communities) at the same time. Personally, I belong to a cricket club, I like the music scene and I support Derby County – these are all distinct tribes with their own members and they are all quite separate to what I do professionally.
Online, if I engage (talk) with someone in one of those communities it is exposed to everyone else within it: In addition, there is the possibility of the message creeping into other tribes. There is no similar effect gleaned by handing someone over a business card.
So building content that appeals to a specific community can still help you reach new people – even if your target demographic seems miniscule, they are the ones most likely to share what you have to say and they will reach outside of your community on your behalf.
Remember That You Are Selfish
Not only you, but all people are self-centred – it’s simply hard wired into human nature and like it or not, it’s what allows free markets and society to work. Yes, I may well help you, but in doing so I will benefit myself as well. We may feel unselfish in the way we treat our friends and family, but we are only ensuring that we’re kept in favour or in the promotion of our own genealogy.
All interactions, whether goods in exchange for money or helping those less fortunate for personal satisfaction, there occurs an exchange in which both parties are improving their lot in life – economists would call this the invisible hand.
Online word of mouth is no different – unless we provide something of value that a user will benefit from by sharing with others, there is no other reason that they’d want to. There has to be something in it for them; specifically in raising the esteem in which they are held by their peers
You Have No USP
If you’re a business owner you will probably disagree, but in the online world, you have no USP. There is nothing that you do today, that someone else cannot copy tomorrow.
Unless you are genuinely revolutionary, someone else will sell exactly what you do and probably do it cheaper. Certainly do not think that good customer service and delivery times are your USP – in the digital age, they are simply hygiene factors.
It’s hard to swallow, but even companies like Apple, who spent a fortune on developing the iPad achieved only a small window of uniqueness – until Samsung copied them a few weeks later. When every product is just a click away, brand loyalty can become fleeting. All that is different between you and your online competitor is your website and your content – so work on the sizzle and let the steak sell itself.
Look At This – Don’t Look At Me
So…we are all selfish and you have no USP…but you want people to talk to and about you, so that you expand the reach of your brand to new people. What should you do…?
Provide An Amazing Experience
Do you ever recommend anything that is average? Probably not and the same goes for web marketing. Your product is no different from anyone else’s – the only difference you can make to stick out from the crowd is to create an experience that is so good, and connects so well with your users that they’re compelled to want to share it.
This is not easy – it takes a lot of resources to do and you will need to invest in very smart designers or content creators. It’s just as much about something “feels” as much as any one specific element. At the very least, you need a website that is simple to use and navigate on, regardless of the device they are using. At it’s very best, your website will actually make peoples’ lives better.
Help Other People Be Better
If you can help your customers and pander to their own self centeredness, then they will be happy to share your content as a by-product of making themselves looking good. All you need is to provide the excuse for them to share it – whether it’s by making them seem helpful, interesting, smart, good looking, funny and so on, to their own associates.
More than this though, we sometime forget that behind each website is a person doing their job. If you go out of your way to help them, they will often return the favour. Ask someone to blog about you and they will probably ignore you. But read their work, join in with their comments and perhaps even re-tweet them every now and again – eventually you’ll have the foundations of a relationship upon which getting them to do what you want is easier.
Make It About Them
When any business is at its best, it puts its customers at the very centre of its world. They connect with the users most important needs and move the relationship from “we’ll sell whilst you buy” to “we’ll help you whilst you shine”.
Coke recently launched cans with people names on them – ultimately a simple thing to do but in doing so, this ubiquitous brown fizzy liquid in a can went from “look at this generic product” to “look at you! You and your mates are on a can of coke!” In that very moment that can of pop is about them…Cue, a zillion photos of coke cans shared on Facebook, Instagram, twitter etc. Oh, and it made them a few quid too!
Make It Easy To Share
If you are doing great things online, or creating super cool resources, then at least make it easy for people to share it and encourage them to do so. If you undertake content marketing, this will mean putting links to share buttons in places where you’re best stuff lives. Or for those interested in reputation management, guide your users to places where they can leave product or service reviews. Don’t rely on them doing it off their own back!
The content too, must be easy to share – it has to be easily accessible and self-explanatory. A 30 second video is better than a 30 minute one and an info graphic is much simpler than a 10,000 word whitepaper.
The simplest take away is to keep your customers point of view at the forefront of everything you do. Ask, what does this webpage or piece of content do to help them? If you make life easy for people and centre your word of mouth marketing strategy around them too, you will begin to move individuals from brand awareness, onto brand recommendation and then finally onto brand advocacy.