There is no marketing technique more powerful than word of mouth (WOM). In order for brands to optimize their social marketing mix, they need to include WOM strategies into their overall campaigns.
As social networks have evolved, so have the ways people share, consume and discover information. The consumer has now become a brand’s most influential stakeholder, wielding the ability to influence friends and peers significantly more than advertisers.
By adopting these 3 tips marketers will be able to harness the power of WOM to improve their social marketing in 2013:
1. Implement Strategies to Harness Consumer WOM
Marketers must rethink their social marketing strategies with consumer WOM in mind. It is no longer effective to simply push branded marketing messages out over social channels. Marketers will need to find compelling ways to engage with their consumers and turn them into advocates, who, in turn, spread WOM recommendations to their friends.
And, we all know people trust their friends more than brands themselves, with 80% of purchase cycles involving WOM recommendations.
One of the ways to tap into the power of consumer WOM is via referral marketing programs. Forrester Research says each recommendation on the social Web reaches 150 people. Imagine if marketers were able exponentially to increase the number of consumers sharing about their brands. They would be able to reach the friends of their fans, tapping into a significantly larger audience. With referral marketing programs, brands can do just that — driving advocacy, awareness and producing highly qualified new sales and acquisition.
2. Measure REAL Social Marketing ROI, Not “Engagement”
Marketers have moved past the initial phases of social experimentation and engagement. Today, it’s all about driving measurable results from social marketing investments and being able to prove the ROI of social marketing strategies. It is no longer enough to simply measure the number of likes or followers, as that does not directly translate into social marketing success.
With more sophisticated analytics, marketers can understand and gain quantitative metrics around who is sharing stories (WOM recommendations) about their brands, as well as reach (impressions), social actions (clicks), and conversions. They can also compare performance across social channels to determine where sharing, clicks and conversions are the highest. This enables markers to continually optimize and improve upon their social marketing initiatives to drive the desired results over and over again.
3. Optimize Paid, Owned and Earned Media
It is only by leveraging a combination of media types that marketers will be able to meet the needs of today’s evolving and powerful consumer. In Altimeter’s “The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media,” report, they encourage marketers to utilize a converged media approach to marketing — with paid, owned and earned media being most effective when combined.
Smart marketers will engage consumers across all owned media touch points (Web site, blogs, social networks, and more) and foster creation of earned media (WOM recommendations). That earned media can be spread across social channels to amplify awareness organically. Brands can further amplify the reach of earned media stories by purchasing highly effective paid media.
There is no denying the power of consumers, and as brands evaluate their social marketing mix for 2013, it is imperative that WOM strategies play a critical role in driving measurable results from their social-marketing initiatives.