I recently did an interview with Michael Stelzner at Social Media Examiner about how big brands use social media and word of mouth marketing. A few excerpts:
Word of Mouth vs. Social Media:
Mike: Let’s go ahead and start with the first question. What exactly is word of mouth marketing, and how, if at all, is it any different than social media marketing?
Andy: Word of mouth marketing is the art of getting people to fall in love with your brand. Getting them to be so thrilled and so turned on by what you do that they’ve got to tell people how awesome you are.
It’s a series of tactical things that I teach in my book. It’s a philosophy that says if we earn the respect and the recommendation of our customers, they’ll do all of our advertising for free.
Mike: Because they become advocates for you, right?
Andy: Because they love you. This is the Southwest and the Starbucks and the Zappos. When people love a brand, they love to talk about those brands.
Social media is a subset of that. It is one tool you can use to make it easier for your fans to talk about you.
These days, we’re really hot on social media. Everyone is saying, “Twitter, Twitter, Twitter.” We love the stuff, but we’re starting to let the tool take over the purpose.
Mike: Just so I understand what you’re saying, word-of-mouth marketing is about getting your customers, followers, or fans—whatever you want to call them—to love your brand so much that they’re going to ultimately advocate for it and spread the word on your behalf, so you don’t have to invest a lot of money.
And social media marketing is just a subset of that, which is leveraging these social media tools to do the exact same thing. Is that what I hear you saying?
Andy: Exactly. Social media is a great tool. I’m a huge user and fan, but it only applies to the online half of word of mouth. Even if you look at the online half, there are probably more recommendations happening by email than Twitter or all the other social media put together.
Who is in charge of social media at big companies?
Mike: You’ve spoken to a lot of big brands when it comes to social media. What are some of the important challenges today that many of these big brands are facing and how are you suggesting they deal with those challenges?
Andy: Probably the biggest challenge is what we call “Guffman,” as in the movie Waiting for Guffman. Everyone is waiting for this special person to show up and be in charge.
In a big company, every department gets it. They know what to do and they want to start using it, but then, “Is the Twitter account for the PR department or should HR use it or are the marketing guys going to use it? Is our Facebook page going to be for campaigns for marketing or customer service?”
You get all of these people moving around in the company trying to figure out who runs it and owns it.
Mike: How do you recommend they deal with this issue?
Andy: It really depends on the nature of the business. A lot of really big companies have a center for excellence, which is a centralized council of folks from all different departments who become the governing or guiding voice of social media across the enterprise.
I think, less formally, it’s about locking into wins. When it’s working over here in this department, you do more of that. They tell the department next to them and they tell the department next to them. It’s a series of small growing successes.