Word-of-mouth has been both King of Advertising and a marketer’s best friend for ages – and I mean literally, ages. A naturally occurring phenomenon, word-of-mouth is as old as human communication itself. It’s no wonder then, that word-of-mouth has (in more recent times, at least) been deemed the most valuable form of marketing on the planet.
According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers rate recommendations from people they know over all forms of advertising. It makes sense that customers trust what their friends and family have to say about a business. After all, we are bombarded constantly and relentlessly with advertising and marketing messages that come directly from companies themselves. We’ve become conditioned to be at least a little skeptical of brands or products we don’t yet know or trust, despite advertising claims.
Think of it like this. Your customers have superpowers when it comes to influencing their buddies. So naturally, you want to do everything possible to harness and direct that power in a way that will ultimately increase your bottom line. Here’s how social media word-of-mouth can help:
Social Media & the Wonderful World of WOMM
As we work to grow our businesses in what has become a highly digitized, social media-obsessed world, word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is more relevant than ever before. Prior to the widespread use of Facebook and other social platforms, word-of-mouth happened relatively slowly. People would tell their friends over coffee or on the phone about the great new hairdresser they found, or the awesome deal the local shoe store at the mall offered them. Nowadays, however, sharing business recommendations and consumer experiences is much easier, simpler and faster – done at the touch of a button. And the best thing about it? Members of your target audience may end up choosing to share something about your business with their networks before having even tried your product or service themselves. Like the hilarious video you devised. If you’re clever and lucky enough, you may even break into viral territory.
3 E’s of WOMM
Don’t make the mistake of spending precious time and resources building up social profiles, only to then sit back hoping conversations about your brand or business will simply crop up organically. This is unlikely to happen. Instead, consider the “three E’s” of WOMM – engage, equip and empower. These work best if you understand your consumers, what attracts them to you, and what it is they need from you.
- Engage with your audience. Become part of the conversation, when it comes to your business and brand, making sure to be consistent, reflecting your brand’s core values and personality. Listen to what people are saying about you. Respond to individual comments.
- Equip your audience, giving them good reasons to talk and share. Start with a strong and unique product that solves a problem or fulfills a need. Then boost your brand by providing potential customers with social content they find particularly useful or entertaining. Such content could be some insider knowledge, a set of unbelievable facts or perhaps even a funny disclosure or a great image or story. Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Choose things like headlines carefully to entice your ideal customers, and even to repel consumers you don’t want to attract.
- Empower your audience, giving them as many different ways to talk and share as possible. Share their feedback, insights, opinion or comments. Get the right consumers involved in your business, so you become a part of their lives. An example of this would be a burger business targeted at the youth market encouraging under-25’s to submit ingredient combinations for a totally new burger, that would be named after them.
Always bear in mind, WOMM activities should be credible and timely, shareable, relevant and measurable. Monitor not only what is said about your brand, but what people are saying about competitors and your industry as a whole. Get creative with viral techniques and create a buzz. Identify social “influencers” who can help get your stories shared. Remember that bad experiences will be shared, too. Everyone on your team has the potential to influence how your company performs as far as word-of-mouth is concerned.
A Real World Example of Rapid Growth Fueled By WOMM in the Digital Age
About six years ago, struggling to find a name for his eCommerce, Darpan Munjal “hacked” his first naming contest. Happy with the speed at which he solved his naming problem and with a background in technology, Munjal created Squadhelp, a platform where people can crowdstorm great names for just about anything.
As of today, Squadhelp’s crowdsourcing community has developed more than 8000 names for businesses, branding, apps, books, documentaries, and the likes. The community, which has now submitted more than 4,000,000 names though the Squadhelp naming contest platform, grew almost entirely by word-of-mouth. The Squadhelp naming community–affectionately referred to as Creatives–spread the word from person-to-person and from country-to-country using Twitter, Facebook, Quora, and other social platforms.
Can Social Media Word of Mouth really work? Well, Squadhelp’s community of 60,000 creatives, seems to suggest yes.
Conclusion: connect, don’t just collect
When you’re seeking to bring the right customers to your business via social channels and WOMM, it’s important to remember that the number of fans or followers you have is not the be all and end all. You could have five thousand followers, but if you fail to engage with them, your sales figures aren’t likely to benefit a whole lot. You’ve got to “connect” with your audience if you want to attract ideal customers and increase your sales, rather than merely “collecting” fans.
So, go on, join the conversation. Listen to what’s being said about you, respond to individuals when necessary and share useful tips or other industry information. Be a great storyteller. Never lose sight of what’s valuable for the people you hope to involve.
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Social Media.
About the Author
Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp–transforming the way names, logos, and taglines are developed by combining an affordable agency-level brainstorming process with the unmatched creativity of “the crowd.”