The original social marketing strategy?

Be part of the conversation by helping, rather than selling

Word of mouth referrals from friends, family and other trusted sources have always been the best possible type of inbound marketing, but they’re truly brought to light in today’s social economy.

Referrals vs. traditional marketing
If you market your business the old-fashioned way, you’re probably using broadcast and outbound marketing, such as a commercial on TV or the radio. You’re hoping that: the masses watch (or hear) it, have the problem you solve, remember your name, and then go to the store and buy it.

The worst part? Besides the tremendous expenses of production and airtime, most of your customers won’t see or hear your message. And the ones that do, they won’t appreciate it. Outbound marketing has got to be the least effective form of communication. I don’t know many people who deliberately watch and pay attention to a sales pitch.

But today’s modern marketers are using the power of social referrals to put content and information about their goods in front of customers already shopping for an answer to their problems. For example, you could write a few articles, shoot informative videos and then optimize this content online. You get free traffic from both social referrals and organic search, driving well-qualified prospects to your landing page. And all for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing!

How to cultivate referrals
The fastest and most effective way to build your referral business is through social media. But to participate, you’ve got to be part of the conversation. When I need buying advice, I immediately turn to social media—Facebook, LinkedIn and others—since I know my friends, family and business associates will give me unbiased testimonials about the brands they like.

Effective social marketers are part of these conversations already, offering advice, tips, and other informative content. They help, rather than sell. And that’s the difference between success and failure.

By creating great content, they are marketing the way people search for information. And it doesn’t have to cost tons of money to do it.

Brian Farrell is a coach, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. He's also the creator of the "QA2 Method". For more about Brian, visit