One of the biggest challenges of marketing is measuring activity you can’t see, word of mouth marketing. For every social media share or ad click, there are hundreds of unseen interactions adding to your ROI.
Customers talk about your business in casual conversations or tell friends to check out your website. Others write customer reviews or detail their experiences with your product in a blog post. All of these interactions are powerful forms of word of mouth marketing that improve leads and conversions. Like many small business owners, you may recognize the importance of word of mouth marketing, but are you actively encouraging these interactions?
Why Social Marketing Depends on Word of Mouth
In our 2017 member survey, we asked AddMe readers which marketing channels provide the greatest ROI. At 41.9 percent, social media was the top pick, while 29.9 percent of respondents chose SEO and 27.5 percent chose email marketing. Although a lot of survey participants had great things to say about word of mouth marketing, only 1.2 percent considered it the most effective marketing channel.
Social marketing is certainly king; but like any ruler, its power comes from people. Consumers look to each other for proof that a product or brand offers value. While 75 percent of people don’t trust ads, 92 percent trust recommendations from family and friends. Roughly 68 percent of people believe in customer reviews, and trust levels rise when businesses have multiple reviews that sound authentic.
Tips for an Effective Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy
So, how you can you use word of mouth marketing to boost social media engagement? Instead of leaving things to chance, incentivize your audience with these simple strategies.
- Reward loyal customers. Offering small discounts for reviews and referrals can motivate customers to share their experiences more frequently. Social media users are more likely to trust your business if they regularly read good things about your services.
- Showcase user-generated content. People like to keep up with their peers and be treated as a social authority. Featuring user content on your social media pages is a great way to get tags and likes, while exposing your business to the extended networks of your customer base.
- Create free content. Providing valuable content, such as blogs and video tutorials, sends the message that you care about more than making a quick buck. Not to mention, helping people solve a problem or accomplish something new forges a connection that makes them feel invested in your brand. Share your free content on social media to get people talking about your products and expertise, making you stand out as an industry expert.
- Share content from other experts. Go beyond self-promotion and share useful content from other providers. While it may seem counterproductive, presenting your website and social media pages as a hub for problem-solving is a smart tactic for building trust. Not only does this attract attention from thought leaders who may turn into potential partners, but it tells your followers that you value their needs and understand what is important to them.
- Feature reviews and ratings online. Make customer opinions clearly visible on your website and social media pages, so potential customers don’t have to hunt around for information. If you make it easy for buyers to answer all their questions in one place, they’re more likely to move forward with a purchase.
Word of mouth happens organically when customers share memorable experiences about your business — good or bad. It becomes a form of marketing when you influence customer opinions by rallying an active, vocal community around your brand. Social media offers real-time insight that can help you craft better calls-to-action. When you stay tapped into your audience, you get better at directing word of mouth activity.