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Lessons from WOM-COMM: People Come First In Social Media, Social Media Can’t Stand Alone

When the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) offered a certificate program in Word of Mouth Marketing, I jumped on the opportunity. Each week, I participate in a Webinar, which is followed up by a quiz  (just like being back in school), that must be passed in order to move on to the next week’s lesson. Students also keep the WOM convo going via Facebook and Twitter.

The first week’s lesson gave some interesting data, substantiating the fact that social media can’t be ignored. One tidbit is this: 80 percent of all Web users rely on Internet searches to determine what to buy and where (Forrester).  The class also talked about reasons to engage WOM (to drive sales, to encourage trial, to create awareness, to inform about a benefit, etc.). But the most takeaways for me were two-fold: 1) social media is about people, not the technologies 2) word of mouth/social media marketing can’t be a stand-alone tactic.

People often get too hung up on the technologies, analyzing how to use social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Remember, behind each tweet, Facebook post, blog entry or product review, there is a real person, and that person demands ethical, transparent sincere communication. Brands need to earn respect online in order to build a following and build relationships – and relationships can’t be one way. Remember to listen, as well as talk.

Secondly, social media is the “hot ticket” right now for good reason – but that doesn’t mean it will be effective all on its own. Social media can amplify and support traditional PR and marketing efforts. Thinking social media alone will get you results is a pitfall that many people stumble upon. Also, don’t forget that social media can be effective at every phase of the product cycle – from product development/design, to marketing/message development, research, going to market, use and maintenance, and service and support (Ivy Worldwide). Social media is way more than a “marketing thing” or a “PR thing.” It can have an impact throughout the business cycle.

Stay tuned for more lessons from WOM-COMM.

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