The path to viral marketing is through the service department. It isn’t rocket science or magic. People don’t recommend mediocre service. If you want your customers to talk positively about your business, you have to give them a reason and some encouragement. Word of mouth marketing is based on quality service. The method for sharing the information has changed but the motivation remains the same.

Marketing departments have claimed the social channel because they want to control the message. It’s understandable, but impossible because no one can control what someone else says.

Efforts to confine social marketing to marketing are destined to fail. Conversations cross lines. Customers and prospects want information when they initiate a chat with company representatives. The answers required varies by individual needs but almost always fall into “fix this problem”, “how does this work”, and “what promotions are available” categories.

If this seems contrary to social media as you know it, spend a little time looking at some company pages. The conversations initiated by the brand cover a lot of territory. They talk about everything from current events to the latest video craze. Conversations started by individuals are typically confined to the topics mentioned in the previous paragraph. If you want a social strategy that works for business, you need a social team comprised of your best marketing and customer service people. When they work together, you have an environment where your marketing messages are delivered well and customers are served quickly and accurately.

Your customer care center is the best place to learn what customers and prospects need and want on the social channel. The same questions, complaints, and comments will appear on your networks. Marketing and service representatives need to work together to define the expectations from both perspectives. When they do, things start fitting together better. Marketing members gets a better understanding of what customers and prospects want. The customer care team gets a better understanding of how marketing works. Both influence each other for the better.

Everyone wins when marketing is integrated with service. Customers and prospects receive better service and marketing. And, sometimes, when the planets are aligned properly, they share their experience with friends and family.