Word of Mouth Goes a Long Way

What is social media, really? It is a way for people to connect without taking into consideration physical distances and limitations. It is a way for people to ‘hang out’ together without leaving their homes.

It is also a way to broadcast to the world, in 140 characters or less, how you think and feel at the moment and what are doing or about to do.

Social media can be also used to wade through all the sea of information that is at our fingertips. Peer recommendation narrows the playing fields. People can share things they have discovered, create lists which can be exchanged and used as a specialized search engine. Social media enables people talk about the events of the day, news or gossip, and share their expertise with other people.

That is where social media and small business interact. A good word of mouth can go a long way.

To be affective in a social media campaign there are few things you should know before jumping in:

Be relevant to your audience. If you are creating campaigns that are meant to be seen around the world, make sure it will be understood by the market you aim to engage. Look at the twitter campaign of a company like Dell, for example.

Build credibility and trust. Let people know you on those social circles, forums, blogs and groups in your niche before you jump into selling. Establish yourself as an expert in your field. Be consistent and answer questions in a timely manner.

Listen to what people have to say, adjust and improve. That is one of the great benefits of social media. You can hear loud and clear what your target audience wants and talks about. Whole Foods has a Twitter account that is very active and used to post actionable advice. (i.e. “Bring it back to the store and we will…”)

Be visual and fun on your social media pages, if it fits your brand.  Look at what McDonald did on their Facebook pages or what Carl Jr. does on their YouTube channel.

Show your customers you care about them and about your product. Convince them you are there to improve their lives. Provide tips, Q&A and advice. Look what Nike does on their blog as an example.

Transparency. Show people that you take their advice seriously. There might be ideas in those posts you haven’t thought of. Starbucks, for example, has a website for ideas and they show where this idea is at the moment; under review, reviewed, coming soon etc. People know they are not wasting their time posting. This is a way to build a community.

Consistency.  You have to keep the brand alive and create familiarity. You’ll have to be active and update regularly.

There are many examples of successful social media campaigns done by big companies. American express, for example, did a short campaign to win a few VIP Glee Experience Tour tickets and got 250,000 requests. Papa Jones is working with Facebook, creating competition for creating a new pizza that will eventually be sold at it stores. Pepsi Co. created a campaign to name their new Mountain Dew drink through Facebook. Virgin America offers promotions through their Twitter account (They offered 50% off tickets to the 500 first clickers). It sold out within 3 hours.

Easy for them, you say. They have PR departments and people devotes solely to social media. How can I, the small business owner do all this and still run a business?

Even though those campaigns are called “free”, you still need to invest in them – your time. There are ways to make it easier:

  • Your campaign is not as big as theirs. You will not have that amazing response the first time you try.
  • Delegate, if you can. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Create a separate account for every employee, and share in the responsibility.
  • If you do not have employees, you can hire an off-site specialist who can help you set it up and update it, with your personal collaboration of course. A couple of hours a day should be enough.
  • There are programs which allow you to get all your social media alerts on one page, for easier navigation.
  • The next step can be to have software that will alert you every time your niche is mentioned in social media sites. It is a way to get early leads and establish yourself as an expert.

It is not all-or-nothing proposition. You have to put your toes in the water if you want to learn to swim. A good word of mouth can go a very long way.



  1. Basil.. You really layed out some great points… I will be comoing back to this one from time to time to make I am staying on track..

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