The boom of mass media in the last century didn’t change this, but it did change how businesses broadcasted their message to the whole world. Because of TV and radio advertising, word of mouth didn’t seem that important anymore.
But times have once again changed, and rather than watching or listening to commercials, people tune them out or change to another channel when the show they’re watching breaks. And they don’t really listen to advertisements anymore. People have gotten smarter, which is the reason why word of mouth marketing has never been so important.
Nowadays, in addition to getting the opinion of their friends and colleagues, people are doing their research online and looking for feedback regarding the product or service they are considering. They are now cautious of what they’re buying. They are looking for other people’s personal recommendations before trying out a new product or service.
The economy of today is truly driven by word of mouth, which is why brands really need to take their word of mouth marketing to the next level. This is the reason why social media has become so popular – it’s word of mouth marketing amplified to a hundred times.
Traditionally, a person recommends a product to a friend. The friend tries it out, likes the product, and recommends it to another friend. With social media, you can recommend a product to a hundred of your friends with just one click. A rave or rant about a product can immediately reach hundreds of your followers, who have the ability to share this with their hundreds of followers, and so on.
Social media is like word of mouth on steroids. Its viral effect is just amazing. Because social media offers real-time interaction, in just one minute, a person’s tweet could have been effectively re-tweeted a hundred times if he had a hundred followers online right that second.
This is why those who want to utilize word of mouth marketing really can’t ignore social media in their campaign efforts. If you’re a small business or brand that’s just starting out in social media, it’s a good idea to pick one social networking site first and then go from there. Think of your audience and where they are most likely to be. Understand the platform so you can effectively use it for your campaign.
Of course, if you really think about it, word of mouth basically relies on trust. Trust is the basis of any relationship, and this is why consumers form relationships with brands they trust. Though social media can amplify the effect of word of mouth marketing, businesses should remember that customers would only recommend brands they trust.
Trust isn’t built overnight, however. No matter the viral effect of social media, you can’t expect that each of your posts on Facebook or tweets on Twitter will always have the effect you want. The key here is to make sure to value each of your customers. Always deliver on what you promise, and offer excellent customer service. Because if you don’t, you may get negative word of mouth – and with social media, this can be amplified a hundred fold as well.
Maria Elena Duron, CEO (chief engagement officer), buzz2bucks | a word of mouth marketing firm, is skilled at making networks “work” and harnessing powerful online and offline buzz, she facilitates online visibility services and word of mouth coaching and workshops – taking companies and professionals from buzz-worthy to bucks-worthy.