Leverage Online Word-of-Mouth for Your Site

One of the biggest shifts brought about by the rise of the Internet, and the empowerment of any average computer user to reach a potentially global audience, has been the increase in the power of what used to be known as word-of-mouth marketing.

Before the web gave us all the power to be magazine publishers (or radio DJs, or TV producers), our opinions were limited to the people in our immediate vicinity. Sure, if we really felt strongly about something, we could write letters to the editor, or graffiti our opinions on bathroom walls, but realistically, we mostly shared our thoughts with a pretty small group of people.

These days, typing a couple of sentences into the comment section on a blog and clicking OK means that an opal miner in the Australian outback and a jewelry designer in Milan can instantly learn whether the fruit of their labor is likely to be a popular Mother’s Day present this year.

Research by McKinsey & Company shows that opinions shared by what are perceived to be “ordinary people” are responsible for almost 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

We trust what people like us — that is, people who are not highly paid celebrities appearing in slick TV commercials — say about their experiences. While it’s true that Facebook (which has worked hard to optimize its site for the mobile web) is currently the most popular venue for the free exchange of opinions, you can use many other sites out there to get the word out about your site and/or your product.

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Here are some of the most popular social networking sites and what you can expect to find there:

  • Yelp: This site started out as an e-mail recommendation service, morphed into a place where foodies could talk about their latest gastronomical adventures, and now serves as a directory of local businesses as diverse as veterinarians, accountants and yoga instructors. A good review on Yelp can help drive traffic to your mobile website; a bad one means you should either respond on Yelp (if it’s unfair) or fix what’s wrong,

  • LinkedIn: This is the site for professional connections and online business networking. If you’re online to develop business contacts with other professionals, especially if you’re job hunting or trying to attract new business clients, this is a powerful place to promote yourself and your website. Unlike Facebook and MySpace, LinkedIn is all business.

  • MySpace: One of the all-time most popular social networking sites, MySpace makes it easy to create a profile site, add music, write a blog, and post as many photos as you want to share with the world. Although the site once dominated the social networking landscape on the Internet, it has fallen behind its biggest competitor, Facebook.

  • Ecademy: Similar to LinkedIn, professionals at the Ecademy site network, seek new clients, hunt for jobs, and recruit employees. What makes Ecademy different is that it’s much more international, with an especially strong audience in Europe and Asia.

  • Ning: You can create your own social networking site at Ning and invite your friends and colleagues to create profiles there, in your own exclusive social network environment.

When you make it easy for people to share information about your product, you make it much more likely that your satisfied users will say nice things about you.

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