Social Media Marketing is Digital Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is much more valuable in getting customers and prospects to buy your products than advertising. In part, this is because you believe what people tell you about products and you’re are skeptical of businesses who tout their products because you know businesses are biased. You think other people have your best interests at heart and only say good things about a brand because they believe the brand is a good one.
Word of Mouth relies on 2 things:
- Willingness of influential members of social networks to share your commercial message
- Share information you generate about contests, new products, reviews etc.
- Share their positive attitudes toward your brand
- Share stories about your brand
- Your trust in these messages based on:
- Similarity to the source of the communication ie. your friend
- Trust in the source (your friend)
Social media marketing involves companies promoting both aspects of word of mouth.
Some companies do this really well. According to Jay Baer of Convince and Connect, companies who get social, also get social media, such as Southwest Airlines. Companies who do social media really well, and generate effective digital word of mouth, do it organically, by engaging customers. According to Mr. Baer, most companies are doing social media WRONG. An example of doing digital word of mouth wrong is by paying influencers to promote your products because paying for digital word of mouth turns it into a commercial message from the advertiser and negates the power of digital word of mouth.
A recent paper in the Journal of Marketing by Robert Kozinets and his colleagues, investigates the issue of paid word of mouth, finding a negative effect when the community discovers recommendations have been paid by the company, even if the payment is simply in the form of free products. Reactions range from push back from community members to leaving the community.
Word of Mouth Recommendations:
- organic word of mouth is most effective; paid word of mouth may not work
- engagement encourages word of mouth
- being socially responsible encourages your customers to engage with you
- listening to them encourages engagement
- asking for help from your customers encourages engagement
- rewarding influencers who engage in word of mouth recommendations should be social rather than monetary
- thanking an influencer who recommends your products
- giving them a backlink from your website
- sharing their opinions, ideas, and comment among other community members
- give influencers a role in the business
- for example, the Weight Watchers blog was started by an individual who still runs it with help from the company, rather than the company simply buying out the website
- the Coke fanpage on Facebook was started by fans not the company. They still run the site.
- help fans, promote them, don’t replace them
- Empower, encourage, and monitor interactions between employees and customers. This can be a great resource to build relationships with influencers that result in word of mouth.