Stop giving “social media” all the credit

I was just reading an article about how Starbucks used social media to drive 1 million people to its stores on one day. But these stories are misleading, because it’s not really social media that got all those people through the doors of Starbucks. Those people came to get something that was valuable to them (in this case a free pastry). And as for how they heard about it? Yes, an important TOOL involved was social media, but the STRATEGY was what got them there. The strategy was based on the concepts of word of mouth marketing.

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) operates on certain concepts that underlie the new ways that consumers think about and interact with brands. WOMM recognizes that the consumer has more power because they have more of a voice. So don’t think I’m discounting the importance of social media, because social media is the entire reason that consumers have more power. But I want to emphasize that you can’t “do” social media. And if all you do is interact on social media because you heard that Starbucks just made a gazillion dollars, you won’t get anything out of it.

To be successful with social media, you need to be successful in word of mouth marketing. You need to give people someone to talk about, or you need to find what people are talking about and get your brand in the discussion. There are tons of other ways to take advantage of word of mouth marketing concepts, but they all relate back to this:

– The consumer is tired of you interrupting them and yelling at them.

– The consumer has so much information thrown at them daily that they are quick to stop paying attention. You know what they will always pay attention to? Their friends and people that they respect.

– If you want their attention you better be telling them something a lot more valuable than “hey look it’s us! buy our product!”

– The consumer will call you out if you have a bad product, and they might have 100, 1,000, or 100,000 people listening.

Respect word of mouth. Start with these concepts and you are bound to get people talking about your brand.

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