It’s time to face facts: in the age of hyperconnectivity, brands do not have direct control over how they are perceived online. You no longer get to dictate your brand to consumers, nowadays, it’s the consumers who define your brand amongst themselves.
As Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit succinctly put it: “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is, it is what consumers tell each other it is”
That’s not to say you don’t have any control over how your brand is perceived. One method is to direct and shape the conversation by placing your product in the hands of the right people, the other is to work to build organic conversation online through word of mouth marketing.
The benefits of word of mouth marketing (WOMM)
The most powerful advantage of word of mouth marketing boils down to one word: trust.
- In a survey by Neilsen Global, 83% of respondents said that they trust the recommendations of friends and family.
- A Bright Local survey found that 91% of consumers aged 18-34 trust online reviews “as much as personal recommendations”, and an even higher percentage (93%) claim that online reviews influence their purchase decisions.
Keep the conversation going, and brand awareness will follow. The more your brand is mentioned, the greater the awareness amongst people within their social sphere.
There’s little to nothing in the way of direct expenditure when it comes to WOMM. Considering that other online marketing methods can have a hefty price tag that runs into the millions, word of mouth marketing is accessible and affordable and effective for businesses of all sizes.
Builds genuine connection
One of the main methods of managing word-of-mouth is to work to build satisfaction, trust and commitment amongst your existing audience. Therefore, WOMM efforts run deeper than other forms of marketing.
You’re not just working to get more customers, you’re working to build loyal brand advocates who feel connected to your brand.
The benefits of influencer marketing
The main problem with word of mouth marketing is that its reach is limited, and as a result, growth is slower. Brand advocates are valuable, but their networks are smaller and they often overlap with each other.
This is where one of the main advantages of influencer marketing becomes apparent. Influencers, by definition, have a higher number of followers, they are followed by a large number of people they do not follow back.
However, when it comes to followers more isn’t necessarily more.
When choosing an influencer to invest in, don’t just look at the follower statistics. A much more useful metric is to look at the engagement figures (likes, comments, shares etc). Micro-influencers are influencers who have a smaller reach but spend time cultivating quality relationships with their followers. These influencers generate more engagement than those with huge followership.
The clue is in the name. Influencers have sway over the actions of their audience. They are particularly admired and respected by their followers, something that is not necessarily true of the regular brand advocates courted via word of mouth marketing.
In his book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”, Malcolm Gladwell describes how the greatest influencers (or as he calls them “mavens”) are experts in their field. That’s why toothpaste brands feature dentist recommendations in their advertisements and on their packaging. So it’s worth considering that influence isn’t solely based on followership.
Social media influencers are experts at content production, meaning that they can create quality, shareable content for your brand.
Sharing influencer content is a great way to diversify the content you publish through your own social media channels.
Great return on investment
According to a benchmark report by Influencer Marketing Hub, every dollar spent on influencer marketing returned on average $5.78.
Measuring Influencer Marketing and WOMM
Influencer marketing is generally easier to measure than WOMM because it is based on a few isolated posts. There are several tangible metrics to help you gauge the success of your campaign.
- Impressions – How many times was your brand’s post seen by people?
- Traffic – If the influencer included a link to your website, did your website receive a boost in traffic after the post was published?
- Followers – Did your followership increase since starting the campaign?
Word of mouth marketing is more of a challenge to measure. Posts and online reviews are spread across diverse channels at any time of the day. You cannot, for example, trace a boost in traffic or followership to any one single account from a brand advocate.
You need a tool that’s capable of crawling review sites and social media pages, a tool that can extract insights from unstructured text data. The Symanto Insights Platform does exactly that.
The Symanto Insights Platform is connected to 75+ review sites and social media platforms. It is capable of analysing thousands of comments and reviews within minutes and converting unstructured data into intuitive graphs and charts.
Symanto uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to accurately detect topics and subtopics within text and discover exactly what people are talking about. As well as attributing sentiment to each topic mentioned, it can also analyse the key personality traits and communication style preferences of the authors.
These insights help you measure sentiment and brand awareness, and can also help you detect the challenges and pain points your brand needs to address to build your word of mouth marketing strategy.