Word-of-mouth marketing still works. And it’s cheaper and more effective than paid messaging. According to research from Kantar, 93% of consumers say they trust their family and friends, and 91% trust review sites for information about brands.
Only 38% say they trust ads.
But, like everything else, word-of-mouth has also gone digital.
In this article, you’ll get some tips on tapping into the power of word-of-mouth marketing to grow your business.
- Where are those conversations happening?
- Dark Social
- Join the conversations
- User-generated content
- Video testimonials
Digital Platforms Are Today’s Coffee Shop
Before the world became hyper-digitized, you might have heard a conversation like this:
“Where did you get those shoes?
“I bought them from Mike’s shoes in the shopping center near Joey’s pizza.”
“They look great. Are they comfortable?”
“Not only are they comfortable, but the price was great. And I love the service. They always help you find exactly what you need, not pushy or anything. And they never overprice.”
“I need to go there because I need some new shoes, and I definitely need to save money!”
Fast forward to 2022—
“I love this product; I talk about it on all my social channels.”
Not only is the consumer talking about her great shoes and the great price, but she’s showing photos or videos of herself wearing her new shoes.
Her friends see the post, comment, and share with their contacts, who add comments and share with their network, and so forth. Next thing you know, your business has gone viral.
Sadly, the same scenario can happen in reverse.
Whereas the old word-of-mouth had some limits to its amplification, there are almost no borders today.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Is Global
Digital word-of-mouth marketing has tremendous power to amplify your brand’s values, mission, image, and the quality of your products or services. But, to make it work for you, you need to own the process and get in the driver’s seat.
Dark social became a buzzword following an article by Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic. It’s a hot topic among marketers as we struggle to keep up with shifting algorithms and a decreasing ability to collect user data.
During the pandemic, there was an exponential rise in the number of people on the internet, but more critical to our work, internet users flocked to private channels.
What channels fall into the category of dark social?
- social media platforms: LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit
- groups and communities: Slack Communities, Discord servers, Facebook groups
- content platforms: Apple Podcasts, YouTube, and Spotify
- employee communications: Slack Channels, Zoom, etc.
- digital conversational channels: DMs, text-messages
- messaging apps: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.
And then, of course, there are still person-to-person conversations happening in the office, at professional meetings, and at the local coffee shop.
Dark social word-of-mouth differs from other channels because you may never know if someone shared your content. For instance, a LinkedIn user could see your post, but instead of sharing, they copy and paste your post and share it with their network of potentially thousands of followers. If they didn’t tag you or provide your URL, an entire conversation could occur around your original post, product, services, or brand, and you won’t know it.
What Are They Saying About You?
To capture the power of word-of-mouth marketing, you need to know what people are saying about you. Jeff Bezos said that “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” But, to join the conversations around your brand, you need to get into some of those rooms.
I know what you’re thinking—“I already have enough to do, and now I need to join a gazillion social channels?”
If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, you have a full plate of responsibilities. But the ROI of word-of-mouth marketing is worth the effort. Prioritize and do as much as you can according to your budget.
Simplify your work by using social listening tools.
Social Listening Tools
Social listening tools analyze social conversations, track mentions of your brand and provide you with critical insights to guide your marketing campaigns.
Some of the most well-known social listening tools are:
- Sprout Social
Many of these social listening tools are AI-powered and offer free options. Some claim to track dark social.
The easiest (and free) social listening tool is Google Alerts. You can track all mentions of your brand, your branded hashtags, keywords, and your competitors. It’s more hands-on, though, and doesn’t provide the analytics of the tools listed above.
Link shortener platforms like Bitly and Owly offer tracking analytics and other options that can help you optimize your content marketing. Shorter URLs also look more professional and attractive.
Join The Conversation
Social listening tools help you track and analyze brand mentions, brand image, and the impact of your brand messaging. But the most effective thing you can do is hang out where your customers are and engage with them there.
Respond Within 24 Hours
HubSpot survey found that 90% of consumers rated an immediate response as important or essential. A complaint, concern, or negative comment can travel around the digital globe in minutes. So try to respond as quickly as possible, within hours or no later than 24 hours.
Sound Like A Person, Not Like A Business
Word-of-mouth marketing works because it’s personal, even though it might happen on digital channels. React to comments, complaints, or questions as if you’re talking face-to-face with the user.
Consumers want transparency, authenticity, and honesty. If you don’t have an answer, say so. Don’t make false claims or put out misleading information. Your followers will catch it, and you’ll lose your customer base.
Don’t Take Anything Personal
Even if you find the comments out-of-line or unfair, keep your responses professional and calm. You don’t want to argue with someone on the internet. That conversation will get shared too! Ask the person to DM you or offer to meet privately off-platform if need be. No matter what, be kind, respectful, helpful, and patient.
How To Capture The Power Of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
We’ll finish with some proactive strategies you can employ to turn word-of-marketing into a revenue-driving engine.
Optimize your use of user-generated content (USG). It’s the most effective tool for building trust in your brand.
- USG is digital word-of-mouth.
- USG doesn’t need to be lengthy. Everyone doesn’t have the time. It can be a simple photo or a single line about what your service did for them, how it elevated their day, helped them meet a goal that had been alluding them, etc.
- Ask your customers to share these USG posts on their social networks.
Be sure to post the USGs on your website and social channels.
Video content continues to lead all types of content for engagement. Turning your testimonials into video content will expand brand reach, help you connect to organic audiences, create demand for your products or services, and build trust in your brand.
Once you’ve created video testimonials from satisfied customers, optimize and repurpose that video across your marketing channels.
- Share snippets on your social channels.
- Feature testimonials on your website.
- Create a short version of the video for YouTube shorts, Insta Reels, and TikTok.
- Build a blog article around the testimonial.
- Include video testimonials in your outreach email campaigns.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing In Brand Communities
Creating brand communities is a proactive way to engage with your customers in formats that you can monitor more efficiently.
Facebook groups or creating a brand community on your website are highly impactful ways to increase engagement and build a team of brand ambassadors. Additionally, you can utilize brand communities to gain insights for future product development, improving your services, or types of content to create. Because you are moderating your brand communities, you’ll be close to the conversations as they happen.
Building brand awareness and increasing sales have become more complex and challenging in our hyper-digitized world. But there are practical strategies you can employ to help you grow your business.
- Track what people are saying about your brand.
- Get involved in digital conversations.
- Optimize user-generated posts.
- Publish video testimonials.
- Create brand communities.