Motivating Consumers to Spread Your Message
In traditional media, TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines … all got paid to carry your message. So, when you wanted to offer a coupon to get customers to buy that overstock of frozen peas that are taking up space in your freezer case, you contacted them, paid them some money, and they told their readers or viewers about your special deal. In new media, we rely on regular folks to tell friends, relatives, and the crazy guy they met on the crosstown bus last week about your deal. And guess what?????
They don’t care about your freezer problems. They just want to talk to their friends and YOU’RE ANNOYING them with your interruptions. So, what do you do?????
- Well, you can’t pay them to Tweet or Blog about your products because there are just too many of them and it would be too expensive.
- You can try to find the most influential folks out there and pay them to share with their Facebook friends and that cuts your cost a little, but if they are too much of an evangelist for your product, they loose their value — their friends will just start tuning them out or unfriending them.
- You can create an intriguing campaign and pray it goes viral — like the Old Spice Guy — but most viral campaigns fail to generate much viral traffic and the creative can be VERY expensive
- BUILD SOCIAL CAPITAL THAT ENCOURAGES THEM TO SPREAD YOUR MESSAGE.
Here’s how social capital works.
Social capital is a function of network relationships between and individual and one or more social groups. In sociology, social capital commonly refers to the ability of group members to get things done, whether that’s organizing a fund raiser for a local charity, getting a law passed, or hiring a new minister for the church. In the sociological realm, trust, generalized reciprocity (helping), and social norms build social capital.
In business, we tend to look at social capital as belonging to individuals or small groups who use this capital to “get things done”. For instance, champions who help promote innovations within a company are thought to accomplish this task through expenditures of social capital. In this notion of social capital, individuals acquire social capital through actions within the community, such as supporting members of the community, providing valuable resources to the community, such as information or time, or through building friendships within the group.
The notion of social capital has been expanded to encompass online social networks, where social capital underpins the important notion of influence in these networks. Much as with any other type of community, social capital comes from giving to the community, being trustworthy, and friendly. Businesses build social capital online by operating blogs that provide valuable information or tools freely to the community, through engagement, or other actions seen as benefiting the community. Firms use this social capital to help spread their message (through ReTweets, Likes, etc), create a positive image of their brand, and ultimately, greater sales of their products.
Unfortunately, some firms think of social media as just another avenue to transmit their message — just like TV or radio. Unless they take the time to build social capital first, this tactic is likely to fail because members of social networks have no incentive to pass along the message. Unlike TV and radio, they aren’t getting paid for it.
Sales conversion is a big funnel. Although there are lots of strategies to help get more people to the bottom of the funnel, social media is best at putting more people into the funnel in the first place, so more naturally convert into sales.