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Utilizing Social Media to Maintain Positive Word of Mouth

In all their astonishing variety, human societies have always run on the motor of gossip. Empires have risen and fallen on the strength of what some people thought and said about other people. Marketing-savvy businesses especially have always known to look to the strength of positive word of mouth for long-term success.

The Latest "In" Crowds

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and a host of eager competitors provide the modern equivalent of the back-fence and country-club chatter that once largely defined business reputations. An entire generation has grown up with the phenomenon of electronic communications, and mobile devices have come in recent years to dominate the market. The zeitgeist of industrialized countries and much of the rest of the world has shifted strongly to Internet-based social networks, and deeply visual venues such as Pinterest, Instagram and industry leader YouTube have been grabbing a giant share of attention.

In all their astonishing variety, human societies have always run on the motor of gossip. Empires have risen and fallen on the strength of what some people thought and said about other people. Marketing-savvy businesses especially have always known to look to the strength of positive word of mouth for long-term success.

The Latest "In" Crowds

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and a host of eager competitors provide the modern equivalent of the back-fence and country-club chatter that once largely defined business reputations. An entire generation has grown up with the phenomenon of electronic communications, and mobile devices have come in recent years to dominate the market. The zeitgeist of industrialized countries and much of the rest of the world has shifted strongly to Internet-based social networks, and deeply visual venues such as Pinterest, Instagram and industry leader YouTube have been grabbing a giant share of attention.

A Self-Absorbed Zeitgeist

The explosion in popularity over the past decade of extremely personal television shows and self-actualization books also leads to a better understanding of a zeitgeist that demands attention from marketers. The old days of impersonal, distant business relationships have been fading for decades. Most consumers, especially younger ones, want and expect more than ever to be indulged with at least the illusion of personal attention from every business or organization in their lives.

Rampant Opportunities for Marketers

Besides being a modern necessity for building goodwill, active participation in social networks offers opportunities for cementing existing customer relationships and for addressing larger markets through buddy networks built by companies that have gone to great lengths to make it easy to click and share links. A corporate marketing strategy goes far with building an image of personal concern for customers simply by appearing to respond quickly to pertinent questions and by moving quickly to address potential problems with products and services. This apparently modern phenomenon returns in truth to the old centuries of highly personal relationships between individual sellers and buyers that were temporarily swept away by the giant production lines of the Industrial Revolution and the later rise of corporate-efficiency experts.

Crush the Damage Now

As Kentucky Fried Chicken, the makers of Tylenol and hundreds of other firms have discovered, horrible things can happen even to good companies. Any competent marketer knows that bad news inevitably will spread faster than good news, but the rapidity of response permitted by email newsletters, posts on company blogs, comments on Facebook and other social networks, ad-hoc topics for otherwise regularly scheduled podcasts and even humorous but intelligent YouTube videos makes it easier than ever to contain reputational damage before it grows out of control. Indeed, a truly good marketer can engage audiences in such a way that even bad news morphs almost entirely into the good news that a few employees may goof up, but the company itself cares and will make it right.

Persistent, Effective Keyword Hunting

SEO, the art of search-engine optimization, has entered the core toolkit of smart marketers. Sparingly including the right keywords in a presentation, comment, blog post or other company response will greatly increase the likelihood of major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo ranking company-sponsored results highly and therefore showing them first to anxious consumers seeking to learn more about a specific company. Fortunately, the traps and quirks of SEO have undergone intensive study, and many white papers, websites, programs and other aids exist to help marketers master the skills needed to effectively manage keywords.

A Steady Rain Waters All

Naturally, the extended arsenal of Internet-centric marketing tools includes free, downloadable white papers or short books that offer useful information on a wide range of topics of interest to current or prospective customers, company-prepared Slideshare presentations, company-sponsored seminars for the Web, educational or viral micro-videos for Vine and similar services, free mobile-device apps that subtly encourage a positive view of the sponsoring company and other ideas that may bubble up from the Web. A classic tactic for acquiring new marketing techniques is watching how other successful businesses engage their customers and adapting their tactics as needed for a specific industry or corporate image. The rain of attention from patiently dripping a stream of contributions into social networks is likely to eventually reach all but the most determinedly isolated customer.


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