The futuristic forecasts in literature like 1984 and the recent blockbuster Wall-E that offer overwhelming, in your face propaganda and advertisements may well be just that, fiction. Recent developments in the social media world have shifted the power to the people. Social networks, blogging, and micro-blogging have been replacing these mediums, slowly at first and now near exponentially. How do companies take advantage of this new form of marketing?
Obviously, there’s the direct approach many companies have been trying (some failing miserably – Skittles anyone?). Companies have incorporated Twitter into their sites, created Twitter accounts, Facebook fan pages, Myspace pages, and hired blogger evangelists to get the word out. These can be effective ways to market, but there exists a two-pronged fault with this route. First, many companies don’t understand social media (SM). They still attempt to engage their customers and potential customers as transactions. Instead, these companies need to shift to building long term relationships with their customers and potentials, and focus on building their brand with these new SM utilities. Secondly, the public is still skeptical of these tactics. Businesses have begun encroaching on their domain, and are what many consider to be abusing it. That is to say, in many minds bullish businesses and their outdated practices are unwelcome in this medium. Posting product information on Facebook and Twitter is not the answer. Succeeding in the social media world requires a well-developed strategy and execution.
Is there another way businesses can utilize this new medium? A more efficient way? Let’s quickly analyze the user interaction with Twitter. If something important (to the user) bubbles up in his/her mind, he/she now has an outlet for this thought a la Twitter. A simple blurb of information is broadcast to all of his/her followers, and some of their followers may even decide to ReTweet this information, broadcasting it to all of that user’s followers, and on it goes. How can companies take advantage of this process? It should be fairly obvious. They have to be the instigator of the initial bubble. How do they do that? They do it by creating something Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, refers to as the “Wow Factor.”
Creating the “Wow Factor” is pretty straightforward – make your customers happy. Tony Hsieh cites this as the primary driving force behind Zappos – spreading happiness.
Case Study – Zappos
Zappos allocates many of its so-called marketing dollars into creating this wow factor. First, they deliver world class customer service. Customer service agents are expected to do whatever is required to please the customer, this can obviously incur expenses. However, if for every 100 customers they deal with 3 of them experience the “Wow Factor” and go on to Tweet about the exchange on Twitter, this automatically reaches some number of Followers, commonly on the scale of hundreds. A small percentage of these Followers ReTweet the Tweet, resulting in an even larger number receiving the message, and so on. You can see how the number of possible customers reached could easily grown into the thousands.
Zappos also surprises many of their repeat customers by sending their purchase overnight, instead of the usual 5-7 day shipping (another, possibly better way to create the “Wow Factor” and trigger the same potential social broadcast).
So, how can your company create the “Wow Factor”? It’s simple –make your customers happy. Beat deadlines. Exceed Expectations. If there’s ever been a time when doing the right thing can be directly tied to success and profit, that time is now. Go make some people happy.