Light a F.I.R.E via Twitter

I’ve been encouraging my small business clients to utilize Twitter as a piece of their word of mouth strategy. To those familiar with Twitter, this is a no-brainer, but to many, Twitter remains a world of mystery and pure self-involvement. “Why should I tell the world that I’m clipping my toenails right now?” is a composite of the kind of puzzlement I’m greeted with when I talk about Twitter with someone who hasn’t jumped on this particular bandwagon.

I’ll frame my encouragement around the F.I.R.E acronym used by my close personal friends at Brains on Fire. The F.I.R.E. acronym stands for Fascinate, Inspire, Reward, Engage. Twitter, among other social media platforms, can be really well utilized in helping “fuel the flames of fandom” for who you are and what you do. In other words, social media is a way to stay connected with and encourage some of your strongest advocates. Here’s a brief overview on lighting a F.I.R.E via Twitter.

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Fascinate. Use those 140 characters as a platform to bring fascination into the lives of your followers. It can be about what you’re selling: “Here’s why local, organic produce is important to us…” if you are a restaurant owner (for instance,) or something you’ve seen online and just want to pass along. This is your chance to offer something of value and interest – to bring a bit of “wow!” into people’s lives.

Inspire. Tell people about the 10k run you are participating in. What inspires you, what breathes life into your day, will probably do the same for someone else. @kriscolvin and @createtomorrow are some folks I look to for inspiration during a given day.

Reward. Lots of businesses have taken to offering special discounts and other offers specifically to those who follow them on Twitter.

Engage. This is where the real power of social media connects with your business. @BlackForestDeli in Bethlehem, PA does a fantastic job of this. They talk about what’s happening at the store, but they ask questions, they check in. When I posted about a nasty cut on my thumb, they were quick with first aid advice. Being a nice human being goes a long way in bringing a customer on board.

Twitter and other such applications are just a piece of the marketing puzzle. They are tools that are there to be utilized, along with more traditional ways of getting the word out. But they are tools at your disposal right now. As you become familiar with the platform, you can nuance and bolster its use in your marketing mix. There are tools within and beyond Twitter to monitor the chatter about your product or service, to analyze and to determine more precisely who your audience is and how to tap into potential new audiences, to discover and engage in topics of interest to the people who are or should be using your product or service.

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Enlisting Your Satisfied Fans

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In good times, it seems, word of mouth can work almost too well. If a small business has a great reputation and low overhead, selling services is still work, but it is manageable work. These days, companies who have relied on clients/customers finding them are in the position of scrambling harder, wondering how to go about this process the way the rest of us must – getting out there themselves and finding the work.

I’m addressing this post to those in business who not only talk about customer satisfaction, but have woven positive customer experience into the very fabric of your organization. These days, even you might not have potential clients banging down your door.

The good news is your fans are out there. The customers for whom you have delivered a great and rewarding experience, these folks are a contact away. They are not a “resource,” to be exploited (but you know that,) yet they do represent relationships you have cultivated and perhaps willing partners in guiding you to that next client. You probably know that, too.

The question is “How?” You want to honestly engage the help of your biggest, most loyal customers – but you don’t necessarily want to announce, “I’ll be belly up in two months if I don’t get a few new projects in the pipeline!”

Right now, I’m reading Satisfaction: How Every Great Company Listens to the Voice of the Customer by Chris Denove and James D. Power (yes both of J.D. Power and Associates.) This book is a few years old, but has some insight that stands the test of (two years 🙂 ) time. In addition to solid measurements of the impact of satisfaction on the bottom line (it matters-in a big way!) there is a chapter on fandom.

Fandom is becoming a bit of a buzzword, and in danger of becoming as slippery and potentially meaningless as “satisfaction.”  But it seems to me that if you have a satisfied and loyal customer base, you’ve got fans. What you need more than anything is to understand their passion. I have a friend who realized he wasn’t just an electrician. He is a “lighting design specialist.” He loves lighting up an interior or exterior space to showcase the architecture, strike a range of moods, and generally enhance the heck out of the place. He attracts customers who understand what he’s doing and are in turn passionate about how lighting enhances the quality of their life – something most of us don’t give a second thought to. My friend knows his passion, and his very satisfied customers know how he’s helped them and now share his passion.

My point is your fans are out there. Make that contact, ask for their help, offer some rewards (some, honestly, will just be glad to be reminded and glad to recommend you w/out reward). But offer a reward anyway!

Join the rest of us in getting out there, and getting that new business!

Notes from WOMMA-U

Word of Mouth Marketing Association University is happening as we speak in South Beach. For those, like me, who can’t attend, there is still plenty of intel to be gathered. 

Here are some notes from the 360 Digital Influence Blog. The notes are from a talk given by Geoff Donaker, COO at YELP: Click the link above for the full post. The notes connect with my own observations of small business love/hate relationship with word of mouth. Are you ready to give up control of your brand? The paradox is that, in order to thrive, that’s exactly what you’ve got to do.

  • Small businesses (some would argue, the engine of the American economy and spirit) have a lot to gain from WOMM, but are still just as afraid to relinquish control of their brand as are large brands.
  • Utilizing WOMM can drive down marketing costs, but your customer service has to deliver … if you are going to rely on what people say about you (vs. advertising, where you say what you want about yourself) you have to deliver a stellar experience and respond to/fix the not-so-stellar ones.
  • Manufactured reputation usually backfires … you can’t manufacture WOM.  You can provide the tools, the dialogue, the forum and the product – but the community will do with all that what they please.

Does this connect with your experience? What are some other barriers to uleashing word of mouth? What are some of the successes you have seen? Let’s start a conversation.