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If you are looking for a professional (a dentist for example), more often than not you will ask around you for references. If people you know recommend someone who is close to your place of residence or work, chances are high that you will give that person a chance.

As a business owner, this emphasizes the importance of offering a great customer experience: when a customer is satisfied, they become a great ambassador.

What impact does social media have on this way of doing business? By strengthening a dimension that is called ‘top-of-mind awareness’. Top-of-mind means many things, but for SME managers, the most important distillation is that when a potential customer needs a product / service that you offer, he thinks of YOU; you are at the top-of-his-mind.

So how does social media help in the development of this awareness? Take for example the medical world. In this market, there is a disconnect between the time the reference is provided and when the need may arise. If you go for a physiotherapy treatment and you are very satisfied with the service, you may talk about it with your family and friends (reference). When you mention the name of the clinic or the professional to your network, chances are slim that they will be in need of treatment right then and there.  This is where social media helps to build a relationship with your customers and offers communication tools that enable them to reach out to their networks. This is part of what we call active word-of-mouth.  In today’s world, most of us are connected via email or social networks. By offering your customers free and value-added information, chances are high that they will pass this along to the people close to them. Especially when the retransmission process has become as easy as a simple click. If this experience is repeated monthly, you will slowly make your way into people’s minds and when they have a need for a product or service that you offer, they will think of you.  This is one of the foundations of building your brand.

What kind of content should I use? Best is relevant information about your sector.  Becoming known is good.  Becoming known for who you are and what you do is even better.  Also, even though controversy sells, and debate continues on the impact of negative publicity, I would remain cautious. You have an opinion on the problems in Ukraine? Unless you are a political scientist or an expert in international marketing within the region - and even if the subject is current and could generate many visitors to your blog or your social platforms - it is best to resist the temptation and keep it for your personal circle.

Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant