Everyone has heard of “word of mouth.” It’s a grassroots style of marketing that uses the goodwill of current and future customers and magnifies it as much as possible.
Two things have changed with social media emerging as a primary marketing venue. First, the potential to have messages amplified is much higher – individuals can spread their message much more prolifically through social media than they ever could before through standard “word of mouth.” Second, businesses have a greater amount of control over not only how amplified their message is but also how they can monitor what’s being said.
The “mouth” has been replaced by the “click.” It’s a “Word of Click” world, now, and businesses must be willing to use it if they want to truly take advantage of social media.
Understanding the Power
The power is growing. Every day people are becoming more influential as they listen to and guide each other through the Internet and the businesses that rely upon it. We trust our peers. We believe in the words of regular people more than businesses (and in many cases more than experts). It’s The People vs Business, The People vs Government, The People vs Media.
People believe other people.
This development is growing exponentially. Word of mouth is easier to both express as well as find thanks to the power of the click. Your customers online are reading reviews about you. Your customers in the store are posting reviews about you, often before they leave. Mobile ties in with social. Social ties in with local. Local ties in with mobile. It’s a circle of influence that is self-feeding and that has the ability to build upon itself with little or no effort.
Today, there is no longer a question of whether or not the power of the click has an effect on your business. The new question is, “How does my business monitor and control sentiment through word of click marketing?”
Monitoring the Clicks
We all have an understanding of monitoring the Internet to some extent. We can see what’s happening on our websites in real time. We see the number of impressions our Facebook posts are getting. We can follow hashtags and links on Twitter to see who’s saying what about us.
These are all important, but they’re just the beginning.
There are plenty of tools available to monitor sentiment. They can be free. They can be expensive. It all depends on how deep you’re willing to go in monitoring the sentiment.
Three quick monitoring Protips:
- Sentiment Can Only Partially Be Automated: Many tools offer ways to monitor sentiment of messages being posted about you. While these can act to give you a basic overview, they must be reviewed manually whenever possible. There’s a huge difference between someone saying, “(Company) bombed on their attempt to help me with my problem,” and “(Company) is the bomb. They helped me with my problem.” Subtle, but until the sentiment monitoring tools can learn the differences in tone, sarcasm, and colloquial language, they cannot be relied upon solely to paint an accurate picture.
- Monitor Users Individually: True Word of Click marketing involves finding brand ambassadors. In heavy streams on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, opportunities can be missed if they aren’t grouped by individuals. Someone who posts nice things about you often may be candidates that you’d want to talk to more directly. Same holds true for influencers – if someone with a high Klout score starts talking about your product, it would be advisable to engage profoundly with these individuals.
- Watch for “Turn” Opportunities: Do not make the mistake of counting anyone being negative towards you as a troll. Often the most powerful word of click marketing comes from customers who started off with a bad experience but who you were able to turn into positive influencers. Special care must be taken with these people – if you don’t know they’re out there, you may miss a tremendous opportunity.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The same can be said about monitoring – if you aren’t keeping track of the sentiment, you won’t be able to manage it. Instead, sentiment will be managing your business.
Encouraging Word of Click
One of the best aspects of Word of Click marketing is the fact that it often happens on its own. You never know when making a customer happy can turn into positive “press” in the form of a solid complimentary Tweet or Facebook status call-out. Just by delivering good, quality service, you will find that people are willing to tell about their positive experiences.
Just because it can happen when you least expect it doesn’t mean that you have to wait for it.
People often post about businesses simply by being asked. Here’s how:
- After the Sale: Your sales team must ask for it. There is rarely a time when customers will be more satisfied than shortly after they bought something. A homeowner who you just helped buy and move into their new home is ripe to post about their positive experience. Even when the jury is still out, such as right after selling a service item, word of click can still happen. “Are you excited about getting started? If so, can you help me by telling people about it through social media? Think of it as a way to hold our feet to the fire: let people know that we’re handling your ______. Once it’s on Twitter, we have to deliver, Mrs. Customer!”
- During Anniversaries: Particularly with high-dollar items and services, it’s important to track anniversaries. If you build and maintain websites for customers, it makes sense to remind your happiest customers that their site has been performing for them for a year, 3 years, 5 years, etc. Use one-click pages (described below) to make it as easy as possible for them to let their world know they’re satisfied.
- From Customer Service: If your customer service folks are effective, they must be able to recognize when they made a customer happy. Happy customers, particularly those you just made happier, can let their satisfaction be known to the people within their social media circle of influence. Again, give your customer service reps links to one-click pages. Make it easy. Make it fun.
- Be Careful of Incentives: There are definitely times when offering incentives for actions in social media are a benefit. Word of Click marketing is not one of those times. The idea is to keep it as natural as possible. The difference in perceived sentiment between a canned response and something personal is often night and day. It’s a good thing to encourage posts. It can be a bad thing to offer incentives for Word of Click. Save the incentives for specific campaigns designed to drive your business. Let the natural language rule Word of Click.
By harnessing the power of your happy customers, your Word of Click marketing efforts will increase exponentially.
Tools to Master the Click
There are three basic tools that you can use to master Word of Click marketing. The key is the term “click” – make it simple. If happy customers are a click or two away from spreading your word, they are much more likely to do so.
It can be awkward to ask someone to post on your Facebook wall or formulate a Tweet about you. By making it simple but giving them the ability to edit the message, they’ll be much more likely to “bite.”
- Tweet Crafting: Create a link that can be sent directly to a customer. It’s easy. Simply create a shortened link from this: “http://twitter.com/home?status=”. After “status=” put in how you want the status to read. Then, shorten it. Here’s an example: http://bit.ly/hbViHN
- Facebook Like Page: Thanks to the recent changes to how the Facebook Like button works on webpages, you should create a page on your domain that encourages Word of Click marketing with a single click. The page should have a message that can be universally accepted, that people won’t mind posting on their wall, and that is tied in with your “Like” button, not a “Share” button. Like’s are less intimidating (even though they do basically the same thing as Shares now). Here’s an example of page that asks for the like, can bring people to your page, and is easy to make work. After pushing the Like button, see how it displays on your Facebook profile. One click. No hassle. Your sales and customer service teams should be able to get plenty of love from this.
- Email: The once-mighty-marketing-medium has fallen in so many businesses’ eyes that it’s often overlooked for some of the uses that still work. Encouraging Word of Click is still a valid use of email… though not the way it once was. Instead of getting people to share an email, fill out a form, or answer a survey, you should make it as simple as possible. Send them links like the ones above. Depending on the size of your email list, do it in batches if necessary. You don’t want your message going out all at once or it may seem artificial.
With the right understanding and appreciation of Word of Click marketing, you’ll be able to expand your reach and influence, build on current customer loyalty, and expose your brand to more eyeballs than what was even possible a decade ago. The best part – it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a television ad.