For years’ word of mouth marketing has been one of the most common methods to launch a business and gain a loyal following. The term “word of mouth” usually means that your customers or yourself share information about your business verbally to help gain new customers. The 'word of mouth' approach works well as its a first-person testimonial on the product or services being offered rather than blatant advertising.
Social media, specifically Facebook, has revolutionized 'word of mouth' in recent years. You probably experienced this first hand and may not even noticed it. Here’s just one example of a common type of word of mouth marketing I recently came across.
While at the chiropractor, my doctor recommended I consider acupuncture therapy. Having never done this before, I posted on Facebook to my friends asking who's done it and how their experience with it was.
Within 24 hours I had 6 comments on that post, 1 post directly on my wall, and 1 private message from friends not only describing their experience but also giving me referrals to the places they went.
One person actually included a link to a recommended facility's Facebook page in their message to me.
In the past, I would’ve never received this many referrals or this much feedback in the old ‘word of mouth', I would have to pick up the phone and call everyone I knew and ask them individually to get close the same numbers. Social media has made this process very easy now and because of that It’s become an indispensable marketing tool.
This real-life experience is a perfect example for small business owners on the importance and the power of social media. I'm more likely to click on the link that takes me to the Facebook page than go to Google and start searching for random places based on recommendations so kudos to my friend who shared that link! And now, I've already liked their page to start getting a feel for who they are and what they have to say. If I do make the decision to pursue acupuncture therapy, this company now has my attention.
I witnessed a similar act on Facebook (did not actually participate). A few months ago, a friend posted about which apple orchard to visit with her kids. She received an overwhelming response within one day of feedback regarding which orchards to visit and not visit, many of her local friends chimed in on the conversation.
Still not a believer in the power of social media for your small business? Don't believe that social media is the new 'Word of Mouth' marketing? Try the experiment yourself (of course you need to have an established social media presence, Facebook or Twitter).
Next time you are looking for a great Italian restaurant or need to find a new place to get a haircut or are looking for a landscaper or photographer, ask your followers and see how many first person recommendations you receive in such a short amount of time.
Word of Mouth really works for any industry, B-2-B, B-2-C and non-profit. It always has. The shift that's taking place is that Word of Mouth is now Word of Mouth via Social Media.
The actions that you need to take as a small business owner are to create and maintain a positive social media presence. Create posts that are adding value and targeting your audience. Make sure that you are not left in the dust because your competition has a social media presence and you don't.