Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media
Published07/31/2015 by Kimberly A Whitler
Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM). Isn’t this really the original social media platform? I grew up with the famous Faberge commercial that showed a woman who “told 2 friends” about the product and how “they told 2 friends … and so on … and so on”. Hasn’t WOM always been a powerful way to influence business results?
I recently attended a conference where I heard several experts on different types of social and mobile marketing present. Suzanne Fanning, President of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association), gave a very interesting, data-based presentation on the power of WOMM and contemporary efforts to create experiences worthy of being passed from person-to-person. What follows are thoughts she shared with me regarding the importance of WOMM and examples of how marketers are taking advantage of its power.
Why should Marketers care about WOMM?
If you could master what has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing—the one that consumers trust above all others and the one that is most likely to drive sales for your company — would you instead choose to ignore it or leave it to chance?
Why would you simply choose to sit back and hope conversations will just happen organically about your brand? If you want to win the marketing race in 2015, you need to unleash the power of word of mouth.
The problem is that for the last few years, marketers have been focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting.” In other words, brands are too caught up in collecting social media fans and they are forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who signed up just to win a free iPad from you.
Just like in life—if you have to buy your friends, are they really your friends?
And why should we stop at likes anyway? Why not shoot for LOVE.
Marketers used to focus on the 4 P’s. You probably had them drilled into your head as you pursued your marketing degree. Well, now marketers need to focus on the three E’s: Engage, Equip, Empower. If you can master these, you can become the most beloved and talked about product in your category, which will ultimately lead to increased sales. We’ve seen a good WOMM campaign generate thousands of conversations, recommendations and triple sales in just a year (yes, even for the boring products).
Can you explain the Three E’s in more detail?
Engage—Give your fans the gift of you. Engage with them. Listen to what they are telling you. Be part of the conversation about your brand. Be a presence in your fans’ lives. @NikeSupport is a prime example of customer service done well. They constantly respond to followers on Twitter, whether it’s about their apparel, Fuel Band or other products. Every few minutes, you can watch them respond to someone new.
Equip—Give them reasons to talk. It can be amazing products, great service, insider knowledge, social elevation, incredible stories, unbelievable facts or even funny disclosures. It’s on you. It really depends on you understanding your consumers and what they like about you and providing whatever it is they need from you. Apple revolutionizes technological devices and delivers amazing products to its consumers, allowing them to naturally raze about the newest iPhone. Another area to excel in and that’s on the rise is social customer service.
Empower—Give consumers different ways to talk and share. Let them know that they are important to you and that sharing their opinions is important to you. Help them find ways to share within their circles and find ways to help move their conversations around. Lay’s is an excellent example to highlight how they empowered their fans to “Do Us a Flavor,” and allow consumers to create a new flavor of potato chips to hit store shelves. Over 3.8 million submissions were sent in 2013 making it one of the biggest marketing campaigns for PepsiCo owned Frito-Lay.
If WOMM has been around for a long time, why should it be a focus now?
You are right. It has been around, well, since cavemen roamed the earth. It’s likely that one caveman told another about a popular hunting area (… and so on and so on) and ultimately that turned the site into the most popular hunting area in their cave community.
It worked then, and it will work now. However, technology has increased social connectivity making it easier than ever for consumers to do your marketing for you. A post that takes just a few minutes for a fan to write will be seen by hundreds of friends who trust them, and it can rapidly travel out to thousands more. Very well planned messages have been shared by millions within the span of days. Look at the Epic Split video by Volvo featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, the video was released on YouTube on November 14, and on the first day the film was viewed over 6.5 million times and shared over 32 thousand times. Then in four weeks it was shared over 6 million times across social networks. It quickly became the most shared film on YouTube. The clip has received extensive media coverage from all over the world as well, and has been the subject of approximately 20,000 editorial pieces online thus far. No disrespect to our cave friends, but it was not possible to achieve those kind of results without technology. You should also consider the fact that those who read the post could potentially have millions of offline conversations with friends, families, acquaintances or even consumers looking perplexed in store aisles.
Are there any consistent characteristics that successful WOMM campaigns tend to have?
Keep in mind that a good WOMM strategy is credible, social, repeatable, measurable and respectful. Dishonesty is NEVER acceptable.
Do you have any case studies you can share?
These three unforgettable WOMMY winners can help showcase the power of word of mouth.
Marina Maher Communications won a WOMMY in the Influencer category for their Kimberly-Clark campaign. The Depend team created The Great American Try On to take the issue out of the bathroom into the most public of places, recruiting celebrities and football players — who don’t need Depend – to try it on, tell America how they felt, and ask them to try it too and support two relevant charitable causes. Sampling requests increased by 720% vs. sample requests for a new product launch a year prior.
M Booth received a WOMMY in the Introduction category for their work on Canvas Lands’ End. The brand launched Canvas Lands’ End – a new collection geared to the younger millennial segment of the population by partnering with eight established bloggers to create the first-ever virtual “blog-up shop” series. The campaign earned $105K in sales and generated 60 million earned media impressions on blogger partner sites.
WOMMA recognized Zeno Group with an Engagement award for their Seattle’s Best “Black Friday Coffee Break” campaign, which focused on a segment of the target – retail workers – by offering free coffee to those working on Black Friday. Consumers leveraged the program through an interactive Facebook application. New fans were encouraged to “like” the page and choose from the following options: Have a free sample of Seattle’s Best Coffee sent straight to your mailbox, stop by a participating retail location for a free cup of brewed coffee on Black Friday, or print a $2 off coupon. The brand received 125 million total impressions in two weeks and 6 million YouTube impressions.
Being talked about requires a strategy and a plan that goes beyond “likes”. It requires deeper insight about your customers. As John Moore, marketer for Starbucks and Whole Foods says, “If people are not talking about you, they are forgetting about you.” The WOMMA’s mission is to help marketers master this method, so take advantage of their expertise. To get you excited, take a look at this video montage WOMMA put together.
If you have a great example of a successful WOMM activity, please leave a comment or tweet it @KimWhitler
Suzanne Fanning is the President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), the official trade association for the word of mouth and social media marketing industry. Her social strategies have been featured in Advertising Age Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes Magazine, and PR Week.