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The Building Blocks for Word of Mouth

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Real estate agents are big believers in the power of referral business. Last week, I was in Austin for SWOMfest, a conference for the Society for Word of Mouth, created by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba of the Church of the Customer blog. I left SWOMfest with a new perspective on what it takes to ignite word of mouth for my clients.

The Core of WOM

Defining your purpose is at the core of breeding word of mouth:

  • People vote for candidates that share the same values, they want to buy from companies that do as well.
  • Companies who establish a purpose outperform other companies by 5 to 1.
  • A purpose is not a cliche, empty “mission statement”.  It is a defined reason for a business to exist other than profits.
  • A purpose can also be defined as a definitive statement of the difference you want to make in the world.
  • But… your purpose must be relevant to your audience.
  • Advertising is not a differentiator.  A purpose is.
  • Purpose fosters meaningful innovation… Do not innovate just for the sake of innovation.
  • Look at every opportunity and ask: “Does it help fulfill the purpose?”

Essential to WOM

A story is essential in delivering your message through word of mouth.

  • Stories are packets that you give to customers that help word of mouth spread.
  • You must provide your customers with a story and make it easy to tell yours to others.
  • The story must interest, amuse, instruct, and inspire.
  • A story is an account of events…with vivid, specific details.
  • A story must have a “neat” element that makes it worth telling.
  • 4 Elements of a story: Character, Setting, Problem, Resolution.
  • The “theme” of your story aligns with the defined “purpose” of your business.

Using Social Media

Using social media to spur word of mouth is more about process than technology.

  • Select customers to become “customer evangelists”
  • Make them the face of your business, reward them, champion them.
  • Listen to the online conversation.
  • Join the online conversation and tell your story.
  • Start small, don’t wait, fly under the radar if you must.
  • Effective marketing through social media and WOM is 10% technology and 90% process and execution.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jay Ehret of The Marketing Spot, and he was interviewing at the conference during the breaks.  He came out with this great video featuring some of my favorite marketing thinkers:

John Moore of Brand Autopsy suggests you ask yourself: Does this tactic earn an opinion?

Connie Reece of Every Dot Connects advises that you plan for follow through.

Spike Jones of Brains on Fire illustrates how you should re-frame the conversation.

Bryan Person of Live World says you should find and nurture evangelists.

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Connie Reece

    November 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Hey, Carson. It was great meeting you at SWOMfest. Nice to see the real estate industry getting involved in social media.

  2. Jay Ehret

    November 3, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Carson,
    Thanks for passing along the video. Had a great time in Austin. You have some great insights and I enjoyed our conversation.

  3. Carson Coots

    November 3, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Connie and Jay – Thanks it was great meeting you both as well. Hope to see y’all again around Austin (or Waco, Jay)

  4. Arra Yerganian

    November 4, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Wow, I just found out about this conference from a friend….I wish I had known earlier. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed reading the comments and blogs.

    Need some guidance. Can anyone assist me in better defining a distribution strategy to reach tween kids? Want to engage them in a new, engaging, age appropriate on-line virtual world my company’s creating? Need ‘out of the box’ suggestions. Thanks.

  5. Paula Henry

    November 5, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Carson – some good take aways here – especially the business card idea. I have always tried to make my business card worth keeping, but never thought about whether it earned an opinion.

    A thought provoking question to answer – How do we make peoples lives better?

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Social Media

Twitter to start charging users? Here’s what you need to know

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media is trending toward the subscription based model, especially as the pandemic pushes ad revenue down. What does this mean for Twitter users?

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Twitter and other social media apps open on a phone being held in a hand. Will they go to a paid option subscription model?

In an attempt to become less dependent on advertising, Twitter Inc. announced that it will be considering developing a subscription product, as well as other paid options. Here’s the scoop:

  • The ideas for paid Twitter that are being tossed around include tipping creators, the ability to pay users you follow for exclusive content, charging for use of the TweetDeck, features like “undo send”, and profile customization options and more.
  • While Twitter has thought about moving towards paid for years, the pandemic has pushed them to do it – plus activist investors want to see accelerated growth.
  • The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from targeted ads, though Twitter’s ad market is significantly smaller than Facebook and other competitors.
  • The platform’s user base in the U.S. is its most valuable market, and that market is plateauing – essentially, Twitter can’t depend on new American users joining to make money anymore.
  • The company tried user “tips” in the past with its live video service Periscope (RIP), which has now become a popular business model for other companies – and which we will most likely see again with paid Twitter.
  • And yes, they will ALWAYS take a cut of any money being poured into the app, no matter who it’s intended for.

This announcement comes at a time where other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Clubhouse, are also moving towards paid options.

My hot take: Is it important – especially during a pandemic – to make sure that creators are receiving fair compensation for the content that we as users consume? Yes, 100%. Pay people for their work. And in the realm of social media, pictures, memes, and opinions are in fact work. Don’t get it twisted.

Does this shift also symbolize a deviation from the unpaid, egalitarian social media that we’ve all learned to use, consume, and love over the last decade? It sure does.

My irritation stems not from the fact that creators will probably see more return on their work in the future. Or on the principal of free social media for all. It stems from sheer greediness of the social media giants. Facebook, Twitter, and their counterparts are already filthy rich. Like, dumb rich. And guess what: Even though Twitter has been free so far, it’s creators and users alike that have been generating wealth for the company.

So why do they want even more now?

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Social Media

TikTok enters the e-commerce space, ready to compete with Zuckerberg?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Setting up social media for e-commerce isn’t an uncommon practice, but for TikTok this means the next step competing with Facebook and Instagram.

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Couple taking video with mobile phone, prepared for e-commerce.

Adding e-commerce offerings to social media platforms isn’t anything new. However, TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, is rolling out some new e-commerce features that will place the social video app in direct competition with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Instagram.

According to a Financial Times report, TikTok’s new features will allow the platform to create and expand its e-commerce service in the U.S. The new features will allow TikTok’s popular users to monetize their content. These users will be able to promote and sell products by sharing product links in their content. In return, TikTok will profit from the sales by earning a commission.

Among the features included is “live-streamed” shopping. In this mobile phone shopping channel, users can purchase products by tapping on products during a user’s live demo. Also, TikTok plans on releasing a feature that will allow brands to display their product catalogs.

Currently, Facebook has expanded into the e-commerce space through its Facebook Marketplace. In May 2020, it launched Facebook Shops that allows businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram stories into online stores.

But, Facebook hasn’t had too much luck in keeping up with the video platform in other areas. In 2018, the social media giant launched Lasso, its short-form video app. But the company’s TikTok clone didn’t last too long. Last year, Facebook said bye-bye to Lasso and shut it down.

Instagram is trying to compete with TikTok by launching Instagram Reels. This feature allows users to share short videos just like TikTok, but the future of Reels isn’t set in stone yet. By the looks of it, videos on Reels are mainly reposts of video content posted on TikTok.

There is no word on when the features will roll out to influencers on TikTok, but according to the Financial Times report, the social media app’s new features have already been viewed by some people.

TikTok has a large audience that continues to grow. By providing monetization tools in its platform, TikTok believes its new tools will put it ahead of Facebook in the e-commerce game, and help maintain that audience.

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Social Media

Your favorite Clubhouse creators can now ask for your financial support

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Clubhouse just secured new funding – what it means for creators and users of the latest quarantine-based social media darling.

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Woman talking on Clubhouse on her iPhone with a big smile.

Clubhouse – the live-voice chat app that has been taking the quarantined world by storm – has recently announced that it has raised new funding in a Series B round, led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

The app confirms that new funding means compensation for creators; much like the influencers on TikTok and YouTube, now Clubhouse creators will be able to utilize features such as subscriptions, tipping, and ticket sales to monetize their content.

To encourage emerging Clubhouse creators and invite new voices, funding round will also support a promising “Creator Grant Program”.

On the surface, Clubhouse is undoubtedly cool. The invite-only, celebrity-filled niche chatrooms feel utopic for any opinionated individual – or anyone that just likes to listen. At its best, Clubhouse brings to mind collaborative campfire chats, heated lecture-hall debates or informative PD sessions. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m actually obsessed.

And now with its new round, the video chatroom app will not only appear cool but also act as a helpful steppingstone to popular and emerging creators alike. “Creators are the lifeblood of Clubhouse,” said Paul & Rohan, the app’s creators, “and we want to make sure that all of the amazing people who host conversations for others are getting recognized for their contributions.”

Helping creators get paid for their labor in 2021 is a cause that we should 100% get behind, especially if we’re consuming their content.

Over the next few months, Clubhouse will be prototyping their tipping, tickets and subscriptions – think a system akin to Patreon, but built directly into the app.

A feature unique to the app – tickets – will offer individuals and organizations the chance to hold formal discussions and events while charging an admission. Elite Clubhouse rooms? I wonder if I can get a Clubhouse press pass.

Additionally, Clubhouse has announced plans for Android development (the app has only been available to Apple users so far). They are also working on moderation policies after a recent controversial chat sparked uproar. To date, the app has been relying heavily on community moderation, the power of which I’ve witnessed countless times whilst in rooms.

So: Is the golden age of Clubhouse – only possible for a short period while everyone was stuck at home and before the app gained real mainstream traction – now over? Or will this new round of funding and subsequent development give the app a new beginning?

For now, I think it’s safe to say that the culture of Clubhouse will certainly be changing – what we don’t know is if the changes will make this cream-of-the-crop app even better, or if it’ll join the ranks of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in being another big-time social media staple.

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