If there’s one term that you must keep in mind when you decide to engage in Social Marketing, it would have to be TRANSPARENCY!
Social media is like a cocktail party. If you want to use social media to market your business, you’d better be prepared to show up naked. Imagine if you attended a cocktail party naked. The moment you walk in, everyone will know if you’ve been working out. Hitting the gym without putting forth effort isn’t enough to get your body into “look great naked” shape.
My mother has been on a life long quest to stay thin without breaking a sweat. When years of low calorie dieting stopped working, she joined Curves. Her goal was to lose weight without breaking a sweat. After three months, she complained that she had only lost 10 pounds . A friend of mine had lost a significant amount of weight in a similar time frame thanks to Curves, so I was curious. What was my friend doing that my mother wasn’t. I asked my mother to describe her workout. She described a series of exercise machines placed in a circle. My mother then described the area between each machine as a “resting station.” My mother shared that she would work out on a machine and then rest for 5 minutes in the “resting station.” Later, I asked my friend about the resting stations. She was puzzled. There weren’t any resting station at the Curves where she worked out. After I described what my mother had told me, my friend broke out in uproarious laughter. “No wonder your mother isn’t losing weight. Those aren’t resting stations! That’s where you’re supposed to march in place to keep your heart rate up!”
My mother learned the hard way that she couldn’t just show up at Curves and get into shape.
Just as it’s not enough to just “show up” at the gym, you can’t expect to just “show up” on social media and get great results.
Word of mouth marketing is the effortless, free promotion so many business owners crave. Those businesses that have achieved it will attest that:
- word of mouth marketing is not effortless
- word of mouth marketing is not “free”
- word of mouth marketing doesn’t just “happen.”
Most importantly, smart business owners know that word of mouth marketing is not a comprehensive marketing strategy.
To use my mother’s experience with Curves, word of mouth marketing is what happens in the areas my mother described as “resting stations.” Each exercise machine represents a different aspect of your marketing. Your website is one station. Your newsletter is another. Your social media activity is yet another. In between each of these stations is where word of mouth comes in.
Word of mouth marketing happens when instead of resting – you’re striving to improve your customer’s experience.
Can you lose weight at Curves by just using the machines? My mother demonstrated that it’s possible. However, my mother wasn’t willing to spend years trying to reach her 30 pound weight loss goal. Meanwhile, when my friend combined the machines and aerobic exercise in between, she was able to reach her goal weight in months instead of years.
Word of mouth marketing is when your customers tell their family and friends about your business. This kind of talking about products and services has been going on since the beginning of time. Anyone trying to sell on you the fact that this is “new” or “revolutionary” has the salesman’s hat firmly in place. Trying to package social media as word of mouth marketing is a prime example of SSDM (Same Shit Different Medium).
So, on one side of the equation, you have people congregating on social media sites. What’s happening online is no different than what’s been going on in “real time” for centuries.
On the other side of the social marketing equation, you have businesses. These businesses want to grab a piece of the social marketing action. They want to insert their products into the conversations. Businesses are now able to monitor these conversations.
These conversations have been going on since the beginning of time. Ancient cavemen would gather around the fire and talk to each other. I’m sure one caveman would brag about his hunting prowess. For example, Og would talk about the wood he used to make his spear. He would remind other around the fire that his spear is the one that killed the Mastodon they were eating. The conversation would then turn to how others who used other types of wood hadn’t survived the hunt. Og had brought down the beast while the others had ended up as Mastodon toe jam.
There’s little difference between those “informal” social conversations and the conversations happening on social media. The only remarkable difference is the ancient conversations left little evidence of what was said. Today’s social media conversations are literally etched in stone, leaving a trail that anyone can follow.
Which brings us back to the admonition offered at the beginning of this post. If the name of the game is Social Media Marketing, then one of the rules of the game is transparency.
If you enter this game with the expectation of privacy, think again.
If you’re going to show up at the cocktail party naked, be prepared. If you’re going to show up flabby and out of shape, at least don’t try to tell people that you’ve been hitting the gym regularly.