Social media users are constantly commenting on brands, products, and services, recommending the ones they like and pointing out problems with the ones they don’t. There are entire social media platforms, like Yelp, that are devoted solely to reviews of businesses.
And social media is powerful—that’s why brands pour so much money into social media marketing. It works. In many ways, it’s the new word of mouth.
But you can’t just list your brand on Google, post your product offerings on Facebook, and then expect the comments, shares, and engagement to come pouring in. You’ve got to give customers something of value—something that’s worth talking about.
Here are a couple guidelines to follow.
The best, most shareable content on social media will generally do one of three things:
Focus on the action that your brand is best suited for, and then build content around it.
Here’s an example from Sam Geller, a criminal defense attorney and founder of Geller Law who’s used social media marketing to great effect in his own practice. Geller’s focus is on more than promoting his services—it’s on educating people about legal matters, whether that’s a potential client who calls into the office, or an Instagram user who happens across his Instagram account.
Geller posts short educational videos about various legal issues on his Instagram, which then directs viewers to his YouTube channel. If they’re interested, they can then watch longer videos that offer even more educational content, as well as information about Geller’s law firm.
And of course, he can direct people to these platforms both offline, in a conversation, or online, by responding to a comment from a user or tagging someone.
Many industries, like tech or law, have industry-specific platforms and sites designed specifically for the audiences these brands are trying to reach.
These sites work particularly well for word of mouth marketing, as they actually mimic the way word of mouth works in offline conversation. If you’re talking with a friend about a certain coffee brand you like, they’re not going to suddenly say, “Let me tell you about this great lawyer I just started working with.”
Similarly, people go to these industry-specific review sites because they have an immediate need or interest they’re trying to satisfy. There’s Avvo for the legal profession, or Angie’s List for home maintenance and repair, or Gadget Review for tech products, for example.
Making sure your business is listed on the appropriate sites and requesting reviews from happy customers gives you yet another way to start a conversation with potential customers online. It also supports your offline efforts, as you can direct people you’re having conversations with to these reviews if they’re not yet ready to engage.
In Geller’s case, he directs clients who find him on these sites to his YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram so they can get more insight into both their particular legal issue, and his practice.
Digital PR is a great way to get people talking about your brand. This, in turn, will lead to more word of mouth referrals.
Remember that no mention or opportunity is too small. Whether it’s the chance to be a guest on a local news show, a feature in an industry blog, or an interview in a top-tier publication, it’s virtually guaranteed that you will increase your audience by getting your name and your brand out there.
Social media marketing is a critical element of any word of mouth strategy, but you’ve got to ensure that it’s working in tandem with your offline efforts—not taking a separate direction.