By Tiffany Ryan (@TiffanyRyan)
Its every marketers dream goal: How do you create brand advocates, people who are willing to not only use your brand, but tell others how great it is? While Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is a hot topic, generating consumer buzz requires a focus on the most fundamental responsibility of a business: great customer service. If you treat others well, and deliver on your brand promise, people will tell others.
Lets face it, the world of social media, including twitter, facebook, and the blogosphere makes word of mouth marketing a key component of business plans today. With forums for sharing everything from product reviews and recommendations to offering perspective on a companys business practices, the opportunity to engage with your customers, establish a relationship with them, and create advocates has never been better.
Its a huge opportunity and an even bigger commitment, but generating brand ambassadors really is about the basics. Lets review:
Treat your customers well Go beyond your customers expectations. Make sure they walk away thinking that you have overdelivered, not overpromised. Actively listen to your customers to understand their needs. Ask questions. Get to know them so well that you can anticipate their needs. And most of all, never become complacent in the relationship. They should always feel like a valued and important customer.
Build online connections and open the door to new conversations and relationships Use Facebook and Twitter to listen and monitor. Many companies and brands are fearful of allowing open comments on their Facebook page. The concern is valid, but a negative comment on Facebook allows you to immediately address the concern and resolve it. Twitter is also an important listening platform. The reach of Twitter is astounding, and one bad comment on Twitter can have compounding effects on your customers perception of your brand. Participating in the dialogue with your customers on these platforms helps demonstrate your commitment to creating a positive customer experience.
Engage influential people Magazines have always prided themselves on their longevity as a medium and their pass-along circulation. In the social media era, passing along an article, blog post, flickr shot or YouTube video is as simple as clicking a share button. The blogosphere has created a new definition of “influencers. Regardless of your product, there is a group of bloggers out there for you. Engage them in your brand experience. Have them participate in giveaways, product reviews, or better yet, a charitable/social cause that you also believe in. Create believers in them, and their endorsement will influence others.
Involve your customer Build a true relationship. The first step is ensuring your brand is delivering on its promise. Beyond that, customer engagement programs, ongoing communications, Twitter parties, Facebook specials, and personal attention can go a long way in keeping your customer engaged.
When we consider all of these points, it all comes down to having a great brand. Consistency of message, customer engagement, and meeting your customer needs still drive loyalty. While social media has given us marketers a ton more opportunities to communicate, its comforting to know that the basics still matter.