The other day, at the end of a post by Seth Godin, I read the following:

One of the disrupting forces of the new media is that it makes harder and harder to succeed without wow. Since you have to earn the conversation regularly, phone it in too often and in fact, attention disappears.

My initial reaction was, "Yeah, that's the downside. It's no longer enough to be great at what you do. Now you have to be a social media expert too."

But then I thought maybe I'd gotten it wrong.

While some people succeed by using new media to "wow" people with publicity stunts or by spending 5 hours a day being accessible on Twitter, Seth's point was that new media gives the little guy the chance to compete by wowing customers with their product.

As long as you can get your customers to say "wow" in public via new media, you no longer need a huge advertising budget to reach new prospects. Word of mouth has always been powerful. The difference now is that your customers have more reach.

A Chinese proverb that says, "bad news will travel a thousand miles. Good news won't make it beyond the door." Negative comments still tend to spread more readily than positive. But new media is helping the positive get out the door too. And once it's out, it has the same 12,000 mile reach to the other side of the world as the negative.

Of course, as a business person, that doesn't mean you're off the hook for marketing -- that you can focus entirely on quality work and let your customers do all the talking. What it means is that you can benefit more than ever by learning how to get customers to share when they've had a good experience.

Do you have a Facebook business page? If not, maybe you should build one. If you do, do your customers know about it? Are you asking them to "Like" it? Are you asking them at the right time? Are you providing an incentive for them to "Like" it?

Reader Comment:
Nikole Fairview said:
I'm not too into Twitter and Facebook yet as a leverage for my business. I know that probably sounds crazy, but I never got into it personally until now, though I know it's incredibly powerful marketing-wise. I have pages for my blogging, but am no...
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Is your local business listed in Google Places? Do your customers know about it? Are you asking them (at the right time) to post a review on it?

Are you monitoring what people say about you on Twitter? Are you engaging customers -- turning fans into zealots and making things right with those who complain (which can often turn them into fans)?

You don't have to do all of these things. You don't have to become a social media expert. But you'll get more out of it than you used to if you do.