Social media is the new word of mouth – how does SMB leverage it?

Now we are having our conversations on-line. As individuals as groups as companies. We are all now the critic, publisher,  expert, DJ, a broadcaster, network, we now hold control over the conversation. Most of us now review a product or service on-line prior to buying.

  • On-line reviews are second only to personal advice from a friend as the driver of purchase decisions; user reviews are more influential than third-party reviews. (“Web users and web community,” Rubicon Consulting, Inc. October 2008)
  • 81% of on line holiday shoppers read on line customer reviews (Nielson Online, December 2008)
  • 86% of consumers read on line business reviews before making purchasing decisions; 90% of whom say they trust these reviews. ( survey of 600 users, December 2008)

Social media is not just a tool for communications  or PR it is a way to get immediate customer engagement. It can be a great source of lead generation, customer support and a resource of collaborating like piloting new ideas of products and getting immediate feedback from your customers. I think it is one of the most persuasive communication tools that small businesses can leverage as part of their marketing tool kit today. Given these statistics how do we as small businesses start to leverage this on line word of mouth resource?

1. Provide ways for your customers to interact with you. Blogs, discussion forms are a good starting point. Podcast is another effective way if you ask for topics and questions to discuss.

2. Monitor trend through customer conversations. Using twitter you can see topics that are relevant to your customers and even issues about your company and brand and be represented.

3. Start a user focused group on Facebook or twitter to research and harness customer ideas. Great way to form a group relevant to a particular topic or issue relevant to your company.

4. Sponsor some user content on another site. This is a way of getting visibility for your brand without having the responsibility of updating the content.

5. Promote your brand through organic messaging. Optimise your site, blog, social identity with SEO, key words, content strategy.

If you have any ideas to add that would be great.

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