strategy+business Winter 2013 : Page 13

leading ideas salesmen, they’ll be done. But there’s no data to suggest that certain peo-ple are repeatedly more infl uential than others in a way that marketers can use. Rather than focusing so much on the messenger, we really need to think about the message. Sure, some people have 10,000 followers, and some people are more persuasive than others. But there are many But don’t forget that most word of mouth happens offl ine. Face-to-face conversation is still the original so-cial media. So companies need to make sure they also have an offl ine strat-egy. Optimizing giveaway programs is a great way to encourage people to do the targeting for you. The av-erage American engages in more than 16 conversations daily in s+b thought leaders Hear from the best minds in business on the brain science of strategy, the digital economy, what makes brands go viral, and more “There’s so much clutter on online channels. On a good day, your tweet may get out to 1 or 2 percent of the people who follow you.” more everyday Joes and Janes who have 10 friends or 100 friends rather than 10,000. Marketers need to think about how to get them talking as well. S+B: You write that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online. Has the signifi cance of social media been overhyped? BERGER: Too many companies set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account and assume they’re done. “We must be successful! We have a social media department!” That’s not a strategy. Companies get se-duced by their numbers of followers and likes. They think, “We got more followers today; we’re doing a great job.” But at the end of the day, is that getting them increased sales, is that bringing them new customers? The problem with online is it has encour-aged people to mistake activity for productivity. “Just because we’re do-ing something, it must be the right thing.” Now, that 7 percent statistic doesn’t mean that online and digital aren’t important. Of course they are—particularly if your product generates most of its sales online. which they talk about a product or service. And there are companies, like BzzAgent, that are in the busi-ness of making your brand one of them. If I’m a dog food company, and I sell my big bag of dog food, maybe I also give people a little trial bag that they can give to a friend. Rather than you fi guring out who has a new dog, why not let people do it with their own friends? They have the best sense of who’s going to like your product—much better than you do. “Liking” something is a passive action. What you really want is that engagement, where people are au-thentically sharing your brand with others. Twitter, in some ways, is the new television. At one point, when there weren’t a lot of advertisements on TV and there weren’t a lot of channels, you could get your mes-sage out through that medium. But that’s clearly changed. Similarly, to-day there’s so much clutter on these various online channels that it’s un-likely your message gets out to very many of your followers. In fact, on a good day, your tweet may get out to 1 or 2 percent of the people who follow you.

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