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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

There’s a subreddit that is literally moving the stock market

(SOCIAL MEDIA) “You can’t change the world on Reddit all day.” Hm. Wanna bet? Some people do bet on whether a stock will rise or fall on Reddit.

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Stock market

I don’t gamble. RIP to Mister Kenny Rogers, but this whole folding, holding, walking, running business is bad for my heart.

So playing the stock market is out for me, but apparently, you don’t even need an accountant to place your bets? The good, if foul mouthed, people of r/WSB aren’t just proving that, their playing and paying outside the traditional trading room is actually moving markets!

The subreddit, full name r/wallstreetbets, is 900,000 users strong, and boasts members that have been involved for years. They show off their stock market wins, losses, jokes, and opinions with varying levels of insight on all contributions.

Ordinarily, this’d just be an interesting collection of folks talking stock, but some of their threads have been shown to have an effect on share prices!

Users don’t just share what and how they’ve traded, they also gamble on what stock prices will do, without actually purchasing or selling any. Options contracts allow users to cast lots for less cash, while retaining the power to show actual purchases as hotter or colder and literally moving the temperature dial on them by word of mouth (and possibly pure conjecture) alone.

So I could hop in, put a marginal amount of money down, and say ‘Stock in Pressure Valve Company X is going to go up since more people are buying bidets in the wake of the Corona-based toilet paper hoarders, and they’re a key component’, then pepper in some off-color jokes about personal hygiene and everyone’s moms to blend in, and potentially wait to collect!

Neat.

After all, not only are surges of humans looking at these bets, web algorithms and cookie crawlers are staring too. It’s chatrooms of the dotcom boom all over again, except more chaotic, more gif-laden, and more monitored by outside forces.

It’d be sinister if the vibe of the sub wasn’t ‘Take literally nothing seriously’. Try discussing ‘chicken tendies’ in a boardroom sometime and see what I mean…although the tide on that might be shifting as well.

The one forbidden thing here is actually using the forum for insider trading. Directly profiting from the rumors gets users exiled, and gets users interacting with them booted too.

Serious business actually DOES occur, who would have thought? I wouldn’t have. Which is why I don’t gamble.

It’s easy to write Reddit off as just an online echo chamber slash cesspool, but when it comes down to it, the American Psychos of the world are on the same internet as the basement-dwellers, and the gap in financial literacy between the two ends of the spectrum is pulling a reverse Pangea.

We need to start recognizing that.

I’m still staying away from 4Chan though.

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Social Media

Facebook messenger gets a major facelift for speed

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook messenger has been around a loooooong time and has started to suffer from build bloat. So the new project lightspeed has redesigned it.

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facebook messenger

If you’ve ever spent time in an old-school, family-built home, then you have an idea of what the inner workings of the Facebook Messenger app look like. It began with just a few rooms, but as the needs of the family grew, they kept adding on rooms wherever they fit until the layout no longer made sense and the home became a bloated maze.

Facebook Messenger has been suffering growing pains ever since it branched off into its own app in 2011. As the app became more popular developers worked to make it more engaging by adding new features like stickers, GIFS, and video calls.

At some point, they realized that the app had gotten away from them. The Facebook Messenger currently on your device has move 1.7 million lines of code. An app that big is slow and takes up a ton of valuable space on users devices, so the team knew it was time for a change. The project became internally as Project LightSpeed.

Facebook Messenger is a valuable app for connecting with friends, family, and business connections across the globe. You don’t even need to be Facebook friends with someone to message them making it an invaluable tool for long-distance teams or new business connections. In recent years, the app has begun to slow down making it vulnerable to competitors like WhatsApp.

The development team’s goal for the new app was to make it small, fast, and simple. In order to achieve this Facebook’s team of engineers has reduced the core code by 84%, taking the original 1.7 million lines of code down to 360,000. The new app will be about a quarter of the size of the current app.

A smaller app will load quicker and be more responsive, even if you’re using an older device or you’re in an area with lower connectivity. Current tests put the new app as being twice as fast as the current version, while keeping all the features that users have come to expect. Don’t worry, you will still be able to send your friends stickers, pictures, and obnoxious amounts of GIFs.

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Social Media

Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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facebook portal

Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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