Does word-of-mouth networking even work anymore or has it been replaced with digital or social media networks? We hear this question a lot. We believe they are both integral to any business’s marketing plan and should be strategically planned and implemented.
Benefits of Social Media Networking
We agree this is a fantastic method of networking, in fact, we are big fans! The stats are impressive regarding the power of social media to influence consumers through people networking digitally with each other.
- 50% of shoppers have made a purchase based on a recommendation through a social media network
- 64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are more likely to buy the products of brands they follow online
- The average consumer mentions brands 90 times/week with family, friends, and co-works through social media networking
There are a few best practices that we have found to be helpful for business professionals who want to use social media networking as part of their marketing plan.
- Focus your time and energy on two social media networks. In Alaska, we have found that for business-to-business (B2B) Facebook and LinkedIn is a great combo and Facebook and Pinterest is good for business-to-consumer (B2C) industries
- Be consistent with your interaction. Once or twice a day is a great schedule for posting
- Offer helpful information that your target audience will find useful in their daily lives
- Don’t sell your products or services directly
There is no denying the power of networking through social media to a wide range of age groups, but it’s most effective when coupled with word-of-mouth networking.
Benefits of Word-of-Mouth Networking
Some refer to this style of networking as the old fashioned or traditional networking. It has certainly been around the longest, but we insist that it is just as necessary today as it has always been.
- 3.3 billion brand mentions in 2.4 brand-related conversations happen offline in America ever day
- 54% of Americans say that their purchase decisions are driven by word-of-mouth
- 59% of Americans believe offline or word-of-mouth to be highly credible
Word-of-mouth networking gives people a chance to build deeper relationships and increase trust. This increased trust often leads to more qualified referrals, longer professional relationships, and more profitable transactions.
As part of a targeted marketing plan, we recommend business professionals be part of at least three face-to-face networking groups. The best combination is to join two soft touch groups and one referral, focused group.
- For soft touch networking groups check into
- A local or state chamber of commerce like our local Anchorage Chamber http://anchoragechamber.org.
- A professional association for your industry like the American Association of Graphic Designers Alaska (AIGA) http://www.alaska.aiga.org or the Pubic Relations Society of America Alaska (PRSA) http://www.prsaalaska.org.
- Rotary http://www.rotary.org/en/Pages/ridefault.aspx or Lions Clubs http://www.lionsclubs.org/EN/index.php are also great soft touch networking groups.
- A referral based organization like BNI www.bni.com is what is called a hard contact referral network because the whole organization’s focus is increasing the business for each member through referrals and word-of-mouth networking.
No matter who your target audience is, it is important to get the most of our networking and leverage the power of both social media and word-of-mouth. Used together they allow business professionals to be highly effective at not only getting their message out to their target markets but also to build trust for more profitable client relationships.