Most entrepreneurs thrive on word of mouth—getting referrals from current happy customers.  People don’t make buying decisions based on traditional advertising alone—T.V. commercials, display ads, brochures or promotional emails. As consumers we rely heavily on the opinions and recommendations of friends and family—we trust our networks more than glitzy advertisers or even salespersons. Pairing that dynamic with the ability to research products and companies on the internet,  you now have the most savvy customer base ever.

Big business is revisiting the age-old tactic of word-of-mouth (WOM) and hitched it to social media platforms to drive sales. You can too!

Harnessing the power of social media is about engaging people, gaining their trust and convincing them you can help solve a problem or supply a need.  It is more than just posting the merits of your product or service on your company FaceBook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages, then directing interested people to your website.  You need to find your prospects wherever they are on the internet by joining groups that match  audience on the various social media platforms and building awareness of your business through smart marketing tactics.

Social media marketing has the potential to work because at its core is people’s love of sharing—a picture, an experience or news of the next big thing. How can you jump on the bandwagon and put social media to work for your company? First know the rules of engagement. WVF reminds you to always MATCH your campaigns and messages to your audience. Chances are you have several audiences–each with different pain points, interests and needs. Here are the principles of social media marketing we strongly recommend you adhere to:

Make your message or campaign simple to understand and authentic. Your customers and prospects  expect you to be honest with them; and will turn away the minute they sense you are having them on.

Associate your brand or campaign with some ‘thing’ that is already familiar to people. You are trying to bring your brand to the top of their minds when the time is right for them to purchase. BOGO, tailgating, pink and red for women’s issues, the colors of autumn, sticky notes, natural vs. anything artificial ….are all examples of concepts and things woven into our culture and easily recognized which can be incorporated in  the text and design of your message. Of course, whatever you choose must work with your brand but your choices are plentiful.

Tie an emotion into your campaign. Create a message that is funny, tugs at the heartstrings, inspires or awes your audience. Take a few minutes to think about the campaigns that sparked your interest or the commercials and ads that you don’t mind watching over and over. What is at their core? They sparked an emotional response from you.

Content still reigns however sophisticated (and jaded) audiences want a better mix. The one thing they don’t want is yet another promotional pitch of your business. Share your start-up story; create a video; or stage a contest. Help your audience share your message with their networks. This sounds simplistic but you really do have to tell people what you want them to do. This is the call-to-action aspect of a campaign.

Help your customers and prospects by providing them with information and advice to make their lives easier. Become highly knowledgeable about your business sector in order to keep your audience abreast of trends. They will begin to identify you as the go-to person in your area of expertise which is a powerful way to build trust among prospective buyers and keeps current customers coming back for more.

Executed correctly, a well-planned digital marketing campaign can not only increase awareness of your brand, increase your revenues but also set you apart from your competition.