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Don’t confuse social with strategy


Does this sound familiar? “I’m sorry, you have selected an invalid option. Please press one to return to the main menu.”

Anyone who has suffered through hearing the placid, patient, robotic voice on the other end of the phone repeating this statement over and over  - while you frantically and futilely punch the “0” button on your phone – knows the true power of human connection. And, in the world of word-of-mouth marketing, that human connection remains the most valuable tool in the box. Take that, Twitter.

Consider for a moment what I nominate to be the most staggering and inspring statistic of the last year, from noted WOM research and consulting agency The Keller Fay GroupAt least 90% of word-of-mouth happens offline. No, that’s not a typo. Do I need to repeat it? At least 90%of word-of-mouth happens offline.

Despite the fact that Facebook’s population may soon exceed that of China, and despite the fact that deep insights can now be conveyed in 140 characters or less, this number proves there is simply no more effective way to reach people than through, well, other people.

Think for a moment about how you make online connections with companies and brands. Maybe seeing your sister’s cute new shoes prompted you to seek out the brand on Facebook. Or you started following someone on Twitter because someone else told you that @somecoolperson is the best source for certain news or information. When you Google something, is it because it randomly pops into your head or because you’re looking for follow-up information about something you discussed with a friend or neighbor?

Our name is based on the theory of 100 monkeys, or the 100th monkey effect. At its essence, this means we learn from watching and interacting with other people. So, although social media can be a powerful and effective tool to build buzz, rarely is it the starting line. Our key takeaways on this topic:

  • It’s the message that matters, not the medium.
  • You need a clear strategy for how you communicate your brand story to target audiences. Whether or not your message resonates will dictate whether people will engage with you online or offline. Social media by itself is not a strategy.
  • Once you make a human connection, online/social media is a great way to build relationships and make connections. Seldom is it an effective tool to start a relationship.
  • Online and offline are not mutually exclusive. One should support the other and vice versa. If one doesn’t work without the other, than none of it is working at all.

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