Word of Mouth in the Digital Age

the power of word of mouth- its impact is undeniable

We have all heard the phrase ‘word of mouth’ but what is it, really? It’s simple. It’s one person sharing a story with another person or group of persons and it’s been around since the beginning of time.

It really got our attention when it became apparent that it could have an impact on our businesses. In the ‘old days’ (before the digital age), a happy customer told maybe 3 to 5 people about their experience whereas an unhappy customer told as many as 20 people. Why is this important? People trust word-of-mouth recommendations far more than they trust other sources of information and rely on them all along the purchase process. (According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.) So you don’t want someone bad mouthing your business.

Then along comes the digital age and word of mouth explodes. Instead of a few people, a happy customer can now tell hundreds even thousands of people about their experience. Yes, this is a good thing except the flip side is this. An unhappy customer can also share their negative experience with hundreds and even thousands of people and they tend to do it way more often than any happy customer.

So what can you do to ensure you get good ‘word of mouth’? Well, the obvious answer is to provide a great experience to your customers but it goes further than that. ‘Word of mouth’ has really gained traction with the dawn of the digital age. Word of mouth is now one of the most valuable forms of ‘marketing’; and done right, it can really boost a business’ credibility, reputation and most importantly sales.

Three Ways to Create Good Word of Mouth:

  • Stop Collecting and Start Connecting
  • Be ‘Social’ on Social Media
  • Proactively Solicit Testimonials

The problem is that businesses have been focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting.” Businesses are in a craze to collect social media fans and they are forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 raving fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” that signed up because they could win a prize.

Your followers will be more engaged and more interested in you if you stop talking about yourself all the time and start talking to them. Talk to them about what matters to them. People connect with the heart and they remember with stories. Social media is meant to be ‘social’ so start socializing with two way conversations instead of one way advertising.

There is no better way to have people trust you than to have people talk about their experience with you. Have a process for requesting testimonials and make sure you are using them on your website and social media. Most people will likely tell you about their experience. Take the time to write it down then get their permission to use it and their name. Some will be happy to write it for you but make sure you are good with the content before using it. Do testimonial videos when you can. Ninety seconds of video is worth 1.8 million words.

There was a time that you had no control over what people said about your business. Now you do so be smart about it and lead the charge in creating good word of mouth. Start a conversation with your raving fans. You will be amazed at how effective it is; not to mention what you might learn to increase sales.

Written and submitted by:

Brenda Mahoney

Effective Small Business Coach