You may remember a time, not very long ago, prior to the explosion of social media. Marketing was different then, the big media channels had a huge part to play. When you could not track down what you were searching for through traditional advertising, there were two main alternatives, one was the great big yellow book that sat in every house, the other was asking your network for referrals via word of mouth.
Word of mouth has always played a big part in how we view companies whether good or bad. When our friends tell us a story about a business we listen up, knowing that their experience could just as easily be ours. In the current environment, people are far less likely to trust traditional advertising, as marketers, it makes sense for us to do our best to encourage positive word of mouth marketing amongst our audience. What better place to do it than social media, the place where sharing is the whole point of the exercise.
Let’s see what steps you can take to attract new customers to your small business through word of mouth on social media.
- Go Back to Basics – Offer Great Service
The basics of word of mouth marketing is that people share positive accounts of their experience. So, prior to embarking on any fancy campaigns, the best thing you can do today and every day, is to make sure that the service you offer is the best that it can be, Then showcase this on social media with posts, images, videos, whatever helps you to show just how good you are at what you do.
Do what you do well and do it with a smile. Now, some businesses operate on price rather than on service. If that is your business model, make sure that whilst your customers get a great deal with you, they feel great about it afterwards. There are many ways to create this positive experience and you are best placed to decide how to go about it.
- Be a Conversation Starter
Once you are happy that your business creates positive experiences for your customers on a daily basis, it is time to begin building upon that excellent foundation. This is the part of word of mouth on social media where you get people talking about you. Social media has an entire host of different ways to start a conversation about your brand.
- Getting Topical- weigh in on a holiday, event or issue of concern which is already on people’s minds.
- Asking for Feedback or Suggestions- show how much you value your audience’s opinion and then follow through with the information you receive.
- Sharing your insights gained by being at the forefront of your industry – your expertise is valuable and sharing it creates a feeling of goodwill amongst your followers.
Remember though, for it to work, your posts must be engaging, topical and informative enough so that they register strongly enough in the brain that someone will think to mention it to someone else.
- Be Consistent
In a world where audiences are unlikely to place their trust in brands that they have not gotten to know, consistency is one way to build that much-needed trust. Remember that word of mouth works because the recommendation comes from a trusted person, as a business we want to become a trusted source so that when we say we can do something, our audience will believe us.
This goes back to your brand story.
- Who is your business?
- What are your core values?
- What can your audience depend upon more than anything when it comes to your business?
Revisiting your brand values will help you to get clear on how to present yourselves both online and in real life. The hard part is then sticking with it. Consistency and ‘stickability’ are not seen as typically attractive traits, however they are the bones of why your audience trust you over your competitors. Without consistency, it is unlikely that word of mouth will work for you in the long term. If you are still not convinced of the importance of being consistent on social media, why not check out this post all about social media strategies.
- Foster an Honest, Transparent Approach
There are many social media marketing stories of brands who let their audiences down when a problem arose. Usually a brand makes a mistake and the audience takes a vocal approach to this on social media. A couple of posts appear talking negatively about the brand, word of mouth comes into play and people begin to share them. This results in the business becoming nervous as they see that this problem has the potential to spread further and so they delete the negative comments. They may even restrict posting on a thread, or block users to protect their brand.
These kinds of situations happen regularly on social media. As small business owners and marketers, we can understand why the business may have chosen to shut down the conversion in an attempt to try and protect their business. However, the reality is that an act such as that does not protect their reputation. If and when a problem arises the only responsible and mature way to deal with it is to accept liability, put your hands up and say we made a mistake. Apologise and say you will do your best to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.
Word of mouth on social media and in real life can reap amazing rewards for your business, however, it also has the power to destroy it.
- Create Endlessly Sharable Content
With the last few tips on board, you can now play with building those relationships with fun, engaging and viral content. As social media is supposed to be a fun way for friends and family to socialise with one another. Businesses want to fit into this social space in a fluid way. The most effective way to do this is with content that generates communication, laughter and debate. You do not need a huge budget to create great content, what you do need are ideas and in-depth knowledge of your audience base and what will get them excited.
Once you begin the hard work of building trust and being consistent, your audience will talk about you and the power of word of mouth will begin working for your business. Remember that word of mouth is extremely important, even in this social media age, people still trust an actual person for recommendations. Start implementing these tips and watch your business grow.