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Social Media Optimization and Word of Mouth Marketing 2.0

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by Carsten Cumbrowski, November, 26 2007.


If you did not notice the changes over the recent years, then it is time to look around you. Social media is growing in size and relevance and it is no fag or bubble. Social media is here to stay. People got a taste of it and love it and chances are very good that they will not let it go and give it up.

Social media is more than a phenomenon and its impact is very real. It can not only impact small businesses and cause good things and harm to them, but to large businesses and brands as well.

No More "Down the Throat"

People became aware of their power and weary of the "down the throat" advertising and marketing strategies of mainstream media who is not just more and more ignored, but also less and less trusted. People turned to their peers and got organized in groups of people who share common interests and beliefs. They share tips and recommendation and tell other people what they are honestly thinking of your business and your products.

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Engage, Don't Just Watch

You better get yourself into this conversation and start first listening and then to engage in the conversation directly.

Do not talk down at them, but treat them as people. Respect their opinions, even if you don't share them. You should be grateful for any constructive feedback, positive and negative. Those are real customers of yours and not people of a focus group where you spent all the money on to hear what they have to say. Take the opportunity to learn about the wants and needs of your customers and use the opportunity to deliver what they need, because the reward will be great.

People will trust and love you, which will be reflected in sales numbers and customer retention.

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Dialog, Not Monolog

Make yourself available for two-way communication. This can be done via a corporate blog or a presence in social networking sites. You can also open other communication channels that will improve the peoples trust in your company and your products. You could also expand your blog with an audio or video podcast where people can subscribe to. Audio is much more effective than written text and video even more so. See my ultimate guide to podcasting to learn more about publishing and promoting a podcast.

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Negative Feedback is an Opportunity

One method to open a communication channel is to allow people to provide comments and feedback to your products on your website. Negative comments and feedback will become part of this, but there is no reason to fear. Nobody is perfect and without flaws, pretending otherwise is a lie and you know that. It should not surprise you that people know that too and they are sick and tired of it.

If you have a product that you believe in yourself, opening up to allow feedback will not kill you and almost certainly have the opposite effect. People will trust you more and believe what you are saying. This will result in a stronger bond with your customer and customer loyalty will result in greater sales. Think about or Apple and you get an idea of what I am talking about here.

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Text is not The Only King Anymore

"Content is King" and text used to be the absolute ruler in the kingdom. When Google introduced their "Universal Search" and Yahoo! and other search engine quickly following the trend, should it become obvious to people who not already notice the changes that text is not the only form of media anymore that rules the search results pages. Images and even more so video became just as important as text used to be in the past.

This has severe consequences on how you should approach any marketing campaign. A well written copy on your site should not fight the battle for attention on its own. Use images and video to accompany it. If you are a larger brand, material in this type of format is probably available already, because of print and television advertisements.

Representation Outside your Website

Your website alone can never outperform everything and everybody out there. It also limits your exposure at places where people are and go to. If you run an affiliate program, you probably realized that already. However, you don't have to rely on your affiliates only to occupy space in social media sites like YouTube, MetaCafe, and other video sites, MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites or, Picasa and other image sharing portals. Your affiliates are already there, but there is no reason not to have a presence there yourself.

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No Boring Sales Brochures

Don't make the mistake and put up the same boring sales brochure on those social sites. It will do you no good at all. Be creative and provide something that is interesting, funny, controversial, fascinating or educational.

The social sites are not the place to sell your products, but to connect with your audience and make them aware of your presence and to allow people to connect with you on a more intimate level. This is new for most businesses, but a little bit intimacy is actually feeling good. You will never know if you never tried. Allow interaction and let customers experience your brand rather than just see it.

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The Ultimate Reaction - Things Become Viral

The better job you are doing with your content and presentation, the higher is your chance that your content becomes viral. What does that mean?

If content becomes viral, the attention and traffic to your content will soar without you spending a single extra dime for this additional vast amount of exposure. People will tell their friends about it and they will tell their friends and so on. The spread of this information is an exponential one and is incredible fast.

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Side Effects

It often does not just end there. If your content exposure reaches critical mass and becomes viral, other media, including blogs and even main stream media such as nationwide publications, usually tend to pick it up as well and expand the viral spread even further.

This will have a long term effect that goes beyond the title wave of the viral effect, which will eventually slow down and vanish. I am referring to the inbound links that not only your content, but most likely your main site as well, will gain from this. This will improve your ranking in search engines to generate more traffic to your site and increase sales and profits.

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The method of deliberately produce content with the attempt to have a viral effect is called "link baiting" in the realm of the new form of marketing called social media optimization or social media marketing.

New companies were formed and existing companies expanded their portfolio to offer social media marketing and link baiting campaigns to clients. You have to be careful with this though, because if a campaign is designed poorly, the opposite effect can be the result of this deliberate attempt to trigger something that is natural.

Not every type of viral campaign might be appropriate for your brand or business. Make your goal clear to anybody you want to hire and check who you are hiring and don't just trust what they are saying about themselves on their website.

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Not engaging into social media is the worst thing you can do. Taking careful steps is okay, but not taking steps at all will not make it easier for you to play catch-up with your competition if they are already engaged with their customer in the social web today.

There is no need to fear the changes that are happening and will be happening within your company in this process. This change is a great opportunity to grow your business beyond your current expectations. Don't let it pass!

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Further Resources

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©2006-2024 Carsten Cumbrowski
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