Social media has become a new buzzword in business and advertising, and if you own a business the chances are good that you’re either seriously thinking about or are already using social media in your marketing plan.  But is social media something new that only appeared after the internet became a part of every-day life, or is it something older?

Wikipedia defines social media as “interactive platforms via which individuals and communities create and share user-generated content.” This sounds like social media is a new, internet-based activity but the reality is that social media is essentially a word-of-mouth endeavor, because both are about individuals voluntarily sharing their opinions, and businesses have been using word-of-mouth marketing for as long as there have been businesses.  In fact, an article in Mashable on “The Evolution of Advertising: From Stone Carving to the Old Spice Guy” includes a timeline listing popular advertising moments starting at 2000 BC. But none of the advertising efforts cited throughout history would have been successful without word-o f-mouth marketing. Neither the first print ads to sell prayer books in 1472 nor the first billboard to sell automobiles in 1835 would have generated customers if no one paid them any attention. 

No advertising is successful unless people notice and talk about it, and unsuccessful advertising means unsuccessful marketing. About.com cites a study that states “of all the ads made each year, 89% go unnoticed, 7% are disliked and 3% are liked (with 1% neutral).” And it is the 10% of liked and disliked ads that will be talked about, whether online or off.  Getting people to talk about your business’s products or services is the next step, and whether your customers talk face-to-face or type their thoughts into Facebook or Twitter, a word-of-mouth testimonial is the ultimate goal.

So how do you get this boon for your business?  An article in the Credit Union Times cautions that “real people don’t repeat marketing slogans” and suggests focusing on customer emotion. In the article, social media expert Andy Sernovitz says that word of mouth messages are repeated for three reasons; because the customer is excited about the product or company, because they want to help family or friends and look like an expert, and because this repeated knowledge shows how they fit into a community.

The same three rules apply to social media. Ultimately, a word-of-mouth testimonial is the goal most businesses aim for in their advertising, and reaching the most people possible with your happy customer’s message is ideal. It just makes sense to put your word-of-mouth message online and combine an age-old advertising technique with the latest technology.

To find out more about how to computerize your word-of-mouth marketing, contact us.