We all know that word of mouth is one of the most effective ways of marketing your brand; no matter what your product, trust in the person or product is essential. Often considered free marketing, this mode of generating referrals and sales is of particular importance to SME’s who may be looking to keep costs lower and increase brand loyalty and engagement effectively.
However, whilst it certainly is a cost effective way of reaching an audience, it is by no means free. In order to really maximise word of mouth marketing, you do need to invest time and effort. This applies to offline word of mouth (the traditional conversations over a dinner table or boardroom), as well as online word of mouth (the conversations taking place on social media channels) in the same way.
You really need to do your research before you begin trying to reach out to people, to understand the environment you are in, the conversations already taking place, and the key players. Imagine you are at a party where few people know you… You go to the kitchen area, get yourself a drink and listen – you would never barge straight into an existing conversation among strangers with your opinions or interrupt their flow to introduce yourself and start blatant self promotion (if you’ve ever been to a networking event, you’ll have witnessed how unsuccessful that is – more on that on next week’s blog!) First impressions are really important, people will make their minds up about you in the first few seconds of meeting you, or by your first few social media posts. You need to stand back and listen for a while, identify who is who and what their roles and viewpoints are, what direction the conversation is going in, and how you could add value to it (if you can). Then, and only then, can you join the conversation. Once you’ve established your own voice and credibility, and providing people like what they hear, you will build up trust and credibility and will finally be able to start talking about your own agenda (so long as that’s not all you talk about).
There are some key pointers to help you keep this in your mind and ensure that you follow good social (on or offline) etiquette:
- Have something interesting to say!
With the changes to Google’s search algorithms, the old adage of ‘Content is King’ has never been more true in the digital world. In an attempt to prevent manipulation of search engines, less importance is being placed on keywords and more on good, authentic content. People will not share your news and information, in person or online, unless they find it interesting and know that others will do too – so make sure it is!
- Give people what they’re looking for, where and when they want it!
Your content might be fantastic, but is it what your audience want to see, and shared in a place and at a time where they might see it? Take your time to find out what particular subjects your audience want to know more about, what angles they are interested in, and the tone of voice they best respond to. Think about how to pull them in with your topics and content, rather than what key messages you want/need to push out. Be very specific in your research about who exactly your various audience groups are, what physical spaces they occupy on and offline, the media they consume, and who they interact with and are influenced by.
- Be topical and current
Keep up to date with global current affairs and industry news. Some of the most popular stories are those that have incorporated a certain amount of newsjacking. Try to create or theme content and campaigns around upcoming events, globally and locally, and trends within your industry. People are likely to be talking about these key topics anyway and it will give you a hook for the conversation and make you more memorable, whether it’s at a dinner party or conference, or on Twitter.
- Know your influencers and build relationships
From your research, you should be able to identify your influencers, whether these are existing customers/clients who give you a lot of referrals, or influential people within the community on your social media channels. It is equally as important to build a relationship with these people as it is to build a relationship with media. Try to meet online influencers offline, to help cement the relationship. Don’t just look to influencers to amplify word of mouth, seek advice and feedback from them too, so that they feel they have contributed some value, and you get some good insights.
- Engage with others
Ensure you are engaging at all times, not just to those who have been identified as influencers. Reward, recognise and incentivise others to engage with you, by sharing their content and information, supporting and adding additional value to their conversations, and offering exclusive information or promotions. Don’t just make it all about you!
There is no magic wand to wave, or Pied Pipers flute that will have everyone singing your tune and buying your product/service. However, if you are well connected, have something interesting to say and deliver it in the right way to the right people at the right time, word will definitely spread, you just need to invest a little time to get it started and maintain that momentum. If you want to know more, join us for our PR workshop on 25th June – check out the details here.