We live in a time where one Facebook post can have the same impact as a front-page newspaper ad, and a mention from a well-followed Twitter account can produce the same impressions as a full-blown celebrity endorsement. Sure, the channels for conversations have undergone a major makeover in the last few centuries, but the sentiment is the same. If your company is doing a good job, then your customers won’t be shy about spreading the good news. Modern marketing outreach may be trending toward a multi-platform model, but before there were ads, endorsements, and sponsored posts, there was word-of-mouth.
That’s right – satisfied customers began sharing useful recommendations to friends, family members, and neighbors well before it was possible to perform these tasks with the click of a button. Today’s most popular social platforms build on the principle of sharing enticing messages with select members of a given audience. Try as you might, your big brand just can’t mimic the conversations that occur on a customer-to-customer level. Your customers have the power to spread the word more organically and effectively than traditional marketing outreach. Encouraging conversations about your brand from influential members of your network may sound like a no-brainer, but the real challenge comes from transforming these interactions into earned media opportunities.
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If your company’s current earned media goal is to partner with another big brand or get a shout-out from an influential personality, you could be overlooking a major component of your business… your customers. Think about it, the customers that access your site online or via a mobile device likely have a well-defined and regularly updated audience of followers in each of their social media profiles. It can be a pain to keep up with these customers (and their preferences) using paid ads and no company likes to play the website visit waiting game, so it may be time for a more proactive approach to achieving the social mentions that will move the needle for your business. That’s where informed and influential customers come in handy.
A recent study conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Ambassador revealed that 82% of Americans say they seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase. In fact, the buzz that satisfied customers build around their favorite brands is one of the most enduring and rewarding forms of earned media. Thanks to technology, these interactions can now be linked to specific customers and social platforms through automated referral programs. Instead of third-party brand mentions being released into the deep dark abyss of the World Wide Web, referral programs allow your brand to follow these conversations and provide unique incentives for your biggest advocates. The most innovative brands find innovative ways to communicate with their customers. What’s more innovative than incorporating positive customer conversations in your earned media approach? Being able to reward your customer’s sharing behavior on their preferred social channels where unique links can be shared.
The social channels that brands use to broadcast their latest products and features are built upon the enduring model of word-of-mouth. Before choosing a brand, customers want to see people just like them, with the same problems and preferences. Modern companies appreciate conversations and relationships, but businesses run off of conversions. With a referral marketing program that links new leads to existing loyal customers, your brand can get a big return on the tags and mentions that you’re already receiving. Instead of approaching customer behaviors as a thorn in your side, follow their lead to create a product or service that’s not only worth talking about but also worth advocating for. After all, this could be the missing piece to your earned media puzzle.
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