How Much Attention Should You Pay to Word of Mouth?

Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Marketing [ 0 Comments ]

social media network can help brands foster word-of-mouth marketingJust when you thought it was safe to go back in the marketing pool, consumers and marketers are placing increasing importance on the role of word-of-mouth as it occupies a growing role in overall marketing strategy. At the same time, the trouble with word-of-mouth marketing is companies’ ability to measure the success or return on investment. But the real question is: Does it hold water?

Research from the American Marketing Association and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association found 64 percent of marketers indicated this channel is more effective than traditional marketing avenues. So, if your company is spending an excessive amount of money on direct mail, for instance, it may be time to adjust your strategy to see what word of mouth can do for you.

Related: Social Media: Powerful Word-of-Mouth Marketing 

What Are the Obstacles?

A lot of word of mouth is spread offline, which is historically difficult to accurately measure without significant investment in customer experience resources, such as surveys. Don’t let that stop you. A growing number of marketers are looking at social media as the online conduit for much word-of-mouth marketing. The best way to go about fostering positive word of mouth is by making sure your social channels are open and you’re interacting with your most vocal brand advocates.

I’m on Social Media, So What Else Should I Do?

OK, so you might be thinking your Facebook page and Twitter feed suffice to develop a word-of-mouth following. While that’s an excellent first step, you’ll have to do a bit more to truly make a difference in helping your brand become more visible and get people talking about it. According to Forbes, one of the best ways to make this happen is by targeting the most socially active and influential people in your particular industry or niche.

Related: Socially inept? Figure out a path forward here.

By connecting with other thought leaders (which you should also aim to be) in your commercial segment, you can attract a wider range of followers to your business. For example, when there are academics, journalists or bloggers who write diligently and have garnered a sizable following about the service or a similar product that you offer, it’s a prime opportunity to cultivate an equal audience for your brand on social media. The key here is to have a deft touch. Engage other influencers in a thoughtful discussion before expecting the relationship to bring you thousands of new followers and brand advocates. It’s equally important to recognize this approach doesn’t have overnight results. You must be patient enough to allow other thought leaders to become familiar with your brand to generate a powerful word-of-mouth effect.

Divide and Conquer

At the same time, you have to choose which social media platforms are ideal for your customers. You can’t expect to be everything to everyone, meaning you have to focus your efforts. For example, the international tech firm SAP worked hard to develop a social media strategy that fostered greater interaction among customers, including thought leaders and influential social media users, by streamlining its approach in its Latin American market by reducing its social media channels from 24 to roughly 10 accounts.

Related: Top 10 Quotes for Modern Day Marketers 

In coordination with detailed analysis of market and demographic data, SAP was able to increase the number of followers on its social networking sites by 900 percent. In fact, between February and December 2012, the number of individuals following the company grew from 10,000 to nearly 95,000 people. Meanwhile, across the Latin American region there was a 17 percent interaction rate.

The way to cultivate online word of mouth is through increased communication. While SAP is an international company, small- and medium-sized businesses have the same opportunity to make their social media channels more effective means for word-of-mouth marketing.

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