We don’t trust the media anymore. We don’t trust brands. We don’t trust the government – although most of us never did. So in a world distinctly lacking in trust, where do we go to help form our opinions on fact vs fiction? Social media.
You and I live in a world where the person on your TV who travels the world and researches trending topics has less credibility than an anonymous blogger who has no background, experience or knowledge on the subject. How does that happen? Simple: we now want to hear what non-biased, non-tainted, non-politically or financially motivated people have to say. They speak the truth because they can.
70% of people are more likely to share something they read on a blog or social media platform than a brand or CNN. On top of that, they actually get to interact with the information by engaging in discussion, sharing it with their friends, researching it further and then form their own opinion. It’s less about having information thrown at you in the form of guaranteed truth, and more about placing information in front of you and asking you what you think. The difference may seem subtle, but the effect is massive.
Here are a couple of interesting statistics on the matter:
- 92% of people surveyed by Nielsen online say they trust earned media, such as word of mouth, above all other forms of media and messaging (18% rise since 2007)
- 70% of people in the same Nielsen survey trust online consumers reviews (15% increase in the last four years)
- 65% of bloggers follow brands on social media and most bloggers write regularly about the brands they follow
- Of all social media platforms, consumers trust information they receive through blogs more than Facebook or Twitter
Now lets look at this from a business perspective. If you want to create a fantastic brand image, you can no longer just put up a billboard saying, “Look at us, we’re awesome”. That’s a brilliant way to end up filing for bankruptcy. The best method is to get people to talk about you; preferably in a positive way. How do you do that, you ask? Fantastic question!
Social media is all about user-shared content. As I mentioned previously, you can’t force this to happen. It needs to be organic. What you should be doing is planting seeds in the form of a conversations – or thoughts – amongst your consumers, and then water them from time to time (the seeds, not your consumers). The best way of doing this is through:
- Consumer review websites
- Encourage your consumers to review products after purchasing. Maybe even incentivise them to leave comments…?
- Monitor what is being said about your brand, product or service on the internet. Respond to the comments by thanking them for their feedback, and address their issues immediately. Do not delete comments or respond aggressively to them. This is their turf, not yours.
- Use social media monitoring websites such as Thismoment Brand Monitor
- Find key bloggers who write about your industry, brand, product or service
- Send them a couple of free products or ask them to come and trial your service, and then write about it
- Ask them to maybe write about your brand
- Create an account and start talking to people on the forums
- This is an excellent space for discussion, feedback and market research
If you provide valuable content; if you start the right conversations with the right people; if you engage with your target market; it will all happen without you needing to lift a finger. People will start talking about you. They’ll write reviews. They’ll share it with their friends. And you’ll build your brand better than you ever could have with a gigantic billboard.