6 Tactics to Leverage Social Media WOM

Bookmark and Share

Social Media | Steve Barnes | WOM Marketing | Social NetworkingThe marketing world has long known that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of advertising, and social networking is the ultimate in word-of-mouth promotion.

Companies aren’t trusted, brands aren’t trusted, and nor are your executives. People trust each other, and now they have the tools to communicate with each other using social technologies and mobile with or without brands involved.

In the distant past, products and services were associated with people rather than with organizations. The qualities and values brought to the marketplace by individuals — tradesmen, shopkeepers, builders, tavern owners –  were as much personal attributes as they were professional ones. One of the most fascinating aspects of the digital media revolution is the way in which the empowerment of the individual is changing the very concept of brand.

Companies today need to build and communicate a likable brand personality through the “individuals” in the company. Social media, given its casual nature and emphasis on authenticity, is a great opportunity to continue to leverage this brand personality as a differentiator. The question is how do you use all of this to move the needle?

6 Tactics to Leverage Social Media WOM Promotions:

1. Start by Engaging in Non–Self-Serving Conversation

“Social media is well, social, so you want to do things that have no obvious ROI, like having a conversation.  And if you’re half-decent at conversation, you know not to talk about yourself the whole time.  People are pretty good at detecting when someone is trying to sell them something, and if that’s how you’re using social media, people won’t engage.  Find fun ways that aren’t blatantly self-serving to talk to your community.” Andrew Mason, Groupon founder and CEO

2. Integrate Online and Offline Advertising

Social marketing allows a business to extend their offline sales pitch. Including your Facebook Page or blog URL in offline ads act as social proof, inviting potential consumers to see your community and increase trust in your business. Not only can integrating online and offline advertising help the conversion process, but it can also help build your community.

3. Use Multimedia

Multimedia can break down the faceless business-to-consumer sales flow and make your company appear friendlier. Use videos and images to show that your business is fun, you care about your employees, and most importantly, that you care about your customers.

4. Include Contests and Discounts

One way to excite the community is to collectively do something to create a contest or offer an exclusive discount. Not only does a contest build buzz organically but if contestants need to, for example, publish an article that gets the most comments in order to win, the contest itself becomes viral. Discounts are also a great way to connect with your community. By giving exclusive coupons to your social community, you’re rewarding and reminding them that you are not only a brand to engage with, but also a brand to buy from.

5. Stop Spamming. 

Nuf said.

6. Stay the Course.

Sure there are videos that go viral, contests that attract a lot of buzz, and Facebook pages that get a lot of fans. But what comes after those efforts? After the tools change (and they surely will) how will social media fit into the company’s overall strategy and help it reach long-term goals? Smart companies look at the long-term. Once you have created the community, listen to it. Doing so will help build customer trust and loyalty. 


Many businesses have already established a presence in social media, whether it’s a Facebook page or a LinkedIn profile or a YouTube channel. But it is important to remember that presence alone is inert; the purpose of social media is to dialogue and engage. Creating a basic social media presence is easy enough, getting your community to actually do something is more difficult. Taking advantage of these strategies can help you build your community, make your marketing more effective, and incentivize buying

Great articles on this topic:

Jeremiah Owyang 

Social Media Examiner

Samir Balwani

About Steve Barnes

Marketing and biz dev fanatic. Student of the world and disruptive influence pushing the envelope of growth through innovation.
This entry was posted in Brand Strategy, Social Media Marketing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 6 Tactics to Leverage Social Media WOM

  1. Chris McConnon says:

    Great post for someone who is always looking for a simple way to present the components of Social Media. Lately, I’ve been trying to encapsulate the value of Social Media succinctly, yet still cover all the basics. I love the way you break this down and keep it simple, while tying it back to familiar constructs. As a “former” teacher, I know that’s the best way to teach new concepts: Relate it to something they already know. (e.g. “…This is your HR hiring process as well as your lead generation.)

    I used to teach teachers how to incorporate technology into their lesson plans. I tried to communicate in terms of “do what you are already doing – and then just apply these new tools to it.” Educating businesses as to the value of SM is not that much different: (e.g. “…short videos instead of simply lobbing white papers.)

    Obviously, using Social Media effectively is a bit more involved, but the ability to start simple and tie into current trends and practices is a great approach for showing meaning and value to this still somewhat confusing arena for many.

    Thanks Steve for breaking it down for us!

  2. Taj says:

    Steve, great intro of how companies need to best utilize social media today! Listening is huge in relation to social media usage. There are positions now called Social phone operators who serve as the ear and eyes of the company to see and monitor what customers are saying about them. I have begun to personally use several of these techniques in the past few months to brand myself online. Thanks for the additional information!

  3. Susan says:

    Hi Steve –
    As a PR person starting out right now, I find this post extremely helpful (although I don’t think it is only applicable to PR professionals.) I feel that your step-by-step plan for businesses to become more effective in social media is extremely helpful for people who don’t understand the 2.0 concept of social media. Many businesses just post aimless things on Facebook or Twitter without really trying to interact with their customer which I think is why in many cases social media is not as helpful as they hope. I feel that without that crucial step, businesses using social media usually turns into obnoxious spam that no one really pays attention to, and then none of the other steps after can really truly be carried out.
    Thanks so much for the post –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s