Using Social Media in Word Of Mouth Marketing
by Harry Lieb
Word of Mouth Marketing is the original social media platform. Zappos seems to be the go-to case study for anything that is right with advertising, marketing, public relations, customer service, et cetera. Zappos was deliberately built on word-of-mouth communication. Hasn’t word of mouth always been a powerful way to influence business results? Zappos is an example of a company whose customer experience is so strong that they can rely on word-of-mouth to drive a significant portion of their sales.
Why should Marketers care about Word Of Mouth Marketing?
If you could master what has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing—the one that consumers trust above all others and the one that is most likely to drive sales for your company — would you choose to ignore it or embrace it and learn more about it and how it’s used in our digital age?
Why would you simply choose to sit back and hope conversations will just happen organically about your brand? If you want to win in today’s markets, you need to create a buzz with word of mouth.
Let’s look at the facts. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising and the American Marketing Association (AMA) decided to find out exactly what brands were doing about that fact. In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. However, only 6% say they have mastered it.
If consumers value word of mouth and marketers believe it is effective, then why aren’t marketers more focused on it?
The problem is that for the last few years, marketers have been focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting.” In other words, brands are too caught up in collecting social media fans and they are forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who signed up just to win a free iPad from you. These are the “influencers”. Whenever you connect to influencers, they will get the word out about your brand, product or promotion.
Just like in real life—if you have to buy your friends, are they really your friends?
Marketers focus on the 4 P’s; Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. Well, now marketers need to focus on the three E’s: Engage, Equip and Empower. If you can master these, you can become the most talked about product in your category, which will ultimately lead to increased sales. I’ve seen a good word of mouth marketing campaign generate thousands of conversations, recommendations and triple sales in just a year and it’s these conversations that will drive your online reputation.
Details of the Three E’s
Engage—If you’re responsible for marketing you need to be personable and memorable. Give your fans the gift of you. Engage and interact with them. Listen to what they are telling you. Be part of the conversation about your brand. Be a presence in your fans’ lives. @NikeSupport is a prime example of customer service done well. They constantly respond to followers on Twitter, whether it’s about their apparel, Fuel Band or other products. Every few minutes, you can watch them respond to someone new. Your fans and customers crave recognition. By engaging with them you’re validating appreciation of their support.
Equip—Give them reasons to talk. It can be amazing products, great service, insider knowledge, social elevation, incredible stories, unbelievable facts or even funny disclosures. It’s on you to give them something to talk about. It really depends on understanding your followers and consumers and what they like about you and providing whatever it is they need from you. Apple revolutionizes technological devices and delivers amazing products to its consumers, allowing them to naturally rave about the newest iProduct. Another area to excel in is social customer service. You can engage and equip your influencers right through social media and make your brand, product or service go viral.
Empower—Give consumers different ways to talk and share. Let them know that they are important to you and that sharing their opinions is important to you. Help them find ways to share within their circles and find ways to help move their conversations around. Lay’s is an excellent example to highlight how they empowered their fans to “Do Us a Flavor,” and allow consumers to create a new flavor of potato chips to hit store shelves. Over 3.8 million submissions were sent in 2013 making it one of the biggest marketing campaigns for PepsiCo owned Frito-Lay.
Word of Mouth Marketing has always worked, and it will work now. However, technology has increased social connectivity making it easier than ever for consumers to do your marketing for you. A post that takes just a few minutes for a fan to write will be seen by hundreds of friends who trust them, and it can rapidly travel out to thousands more through this chain of connectivity. Very well planned messages have been shared by millions within the span of days. Whenever your message goes viral, your sales will increase so it’s important to create well thought out and memorable messages. You should also consider the fact that those who read the post could potentially have millions of offline conversations with friends, families, acquaintances or even consumers looking perplexed in store aisles.
Fueling conversations and driving passion will make a huge difference for your brand.
There are consistent characteristics that successful Word of Mouth campaigns tend to have.
Keep in mind that a good word of mouth strategy is credible, social, repeatable, measurable and respectful. Dishonesty is never acceptable.
These campaigns are most effective when used in connection with social media such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Google+.
Being talked about requires a strategy and a plan that goes beyond “likes”. It requires deeper insight about your customers, decision makers and influencers. As I tell my clients, “If people are not talking about you, they are forgetting about you.”
Do you have a social media manager on your staff? Perhaps it’s time!
Harry Lieb is the Director of TriCounty Website Design. TriCounty Website Design specializes in positioning small businesses on the same level as the big box stores across the Internet through the use of cutting edge web designs and the management of social media platforms.