Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful way to market yourself or your company. In a comprehensive report by Nielsen Company, 78% of consumers reported that they trusted recommendations from other consumers more than any other form of advertising. In essence, they relied more on word of mouth marketing than any other form of marketing (print ads, commercials, and so on). How do you get people talking about you then? There are many strategies for word of mouth marketing but they all point back to four simple rules. Following these four rules will put you on your way to building a great word or mouth or buzz campaign online.
Rule #1: Be “Sharepelling”
Creating a message that is both sharable and compelling (sharepelling) is the first rule that must be met in order to get people talking about you online. Simply creating content or a message that is “interesting” is no longer enough. Why? We’re in an information age where there is an overload of interesting content. Moreover, people’s attention spans have dramatically decreased and there is so much information and content floating around that being interesting is simply not enough to get people talking in the digital space.
Mobile applications, videos, games, weblogs, video blogs, Facebook apps, the list goes on and on and will continuously be evolving. SearchEngineWatch.com estimated approximately 213,000,000 searches done each day in 2006 and it is reasonable to say that it has grown exponentially from that number stated four years ago. Each search will return thousands if not millions of pieces of content. And that is just search!
In a new media driven world, people rely on search, their friends on social networks, and other online media channels to hear about things happening in the digital world. Search engines rank content based on how much people are talking about you, talking with you, and linking to you. Top applications only become top applications if people are using them and talking about them and sharing them. Videos only get views because people are passing them along to their social networks. Blogs only become successful because their readers find their content compelling enough to subscribe and share. Social networks, like Facebook, only become valuable because their users help grow it by getting their friends to join. Facebook’s value would drop to $0 if everyone decided to deactivate and remove their profiles.
Essentially, the only reason these bits of digital content get traction and create any value what-so-ever is because their users are talking. In order to get people talking about you or your company in the new media space, you need to create give them something that is not only interesting, but compelling enough to share, or as I coin the term, “Be Sharepelling”.
Rule # 2: Evoke an Emotion
This rule means your message needs to make people feel a lot of something. Why? We share things that make us feel a lot of something. As humans, we enjoy being social and enjoying experiences and feelings together. What that something is depends on what you or your company are trying to get people talking about.
Think about this for a second. What did you Tweet or forward today or this week? Did it make you happy? Perhaps. Did it make you feel productive, smarter, cautious, intrigued? Maybe that as well. Whatever you discussed did not necessarily make you happy but it made you feel enough of something to pass it along for other people to feel it too. We share things when we are angry sometimes if we want to invoke change or action. We share things because we feel fear sometimes because we want others to be aware and be cautious. There are a variety of feelings that make us share but they do not always have to make us “happy.” The key is to create a message that evokes a lot of some type of feeling because people, by nature react to feelings. They sometimes become emotions (which is great for branding) or sometimes they just compel people to do something like get rid of the feeling or spread it or pass it on. That’s great too.
The bottom line here is that if you want to get people talking about you or your company online, you need to create a message that is not only sharepelling but powerful enough to evoke strong feelings in your audience.
Rule # 3: Earn Trust and Respect
People will not spread your message if they do not trust or respect you. We take advice from friends but we rarely take advice from strangers. One reason we may take advice from strangers on the web is because we know they are an “expert” and other people can support. Two key pointers for this rule are as follows:
* Be honest: We learned this in pre-school. As always, you have to be honest about your intentions. If you want to spread a message or piece of content, be honest about it, don’t spam. Ask for help, you’d be surprised at how willing your online contacts are willing to help you out.
* Be available: Being available is important. Your online relationships need to be able to contact you. Think about it. The exchange of business cards is your first step to building a relationship in the professional word. When it comes to online relationships, giving your audience ways to contact you in a variety of ways makes you more trustworthy. Of course, you have to follow up appropriately and that takes some energy.
Rule #4: Make it Easy
Once you have met the first three rules of being sharepelling, emotional, and trustworthy, your message is ready to spread like wildfire online. The last thing you want to do now is make it hard for them to share it with others. You want to make it as easy and in your face as possible. People’s attention spans are increasingly diminishing with technology. When you go to a website, you want it to be easy to navigate. When you find a message you want to pass along, you want a way to do it right there and now.
Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful and very sustainable way to get people talking about you or your business. New media is and will continue to rapidly change and this has therefore changed the rules of word of mouth marketing as it applies to the digital space. In order to successfully get people talking about you or your company online you need to follow these new rules.