Word-of-Mouth Advertising in the Influencer Age

Consider these modern tips to optimize your word-of-mouth marketing.

WOM (word-of-mouth) advertising is just as powerful today as it has ever been, with over 80% of people prioritizing the recommendations of friends and family. Overall, 90% of recommendations resonate if they come from other people, even if they are strangers, as opposed to statements coming from brands.

However, the perspective on this pivotal marketing strategy has shifted in the past few years, largely thanks to social media—not to mention the popularity of crowd-sourcing opinions on everything from the hottest travel destinations to the cutest dog breeds.

Here are a few ways that marketers should think about word-of-mouth strategies in the digital age:

Consider the True Value of Influencer WOM

While friends and family will always have the greatest sway and carry the greatest trust metric when it comes to word-of-mouth, there’s no denying that you can also get a lot of mileage out of endorsement from celebrity influencers. Today, successful social media influencers command millions of followers who not only read their content religiously, but also engage with it, and are prone to buying what they recommend. You do, however, have to keep in mind that their audience is savvy about sponsored content, and they are always fully aware that endorsements from their favorite celebs can be bought.

Do Your Research to Avoid Fake Influencers

Fake influencers have either inflated their follower count deliberately by purchasing accounts or they may have inadvertently been followed by a legion of bots. Marketers can request an estimate for the ROI an influencer typically commands before committing to them based on their follower count alone; this is what should determine your payments per post and who you choose. Also consider their subject knowledge and how it relates to your product and industry; sometimes a smaller following in a more niche area is going to have a greater impact than a generic endorsement to a greater number of fans.

Remember That Customers Trust Review Sites

One of the most well-known review sites is Yelp, where honest customer feedback is sourced as a way to inform others of which restaurant to visit. The most valued reviews come from a crowd of reviewers called Yelp Elite. Sometimes, it’s important to curry favor with elite reviewers related to your industry, whose opinions can hold as much sway as those from professional critics. However, it’s also important to understand that these sites don’t always qualify someone’s expertise on a subject matter; the Yelp Elite, for example, can gain that rank from the quantity and frequency of reviews they submit, as well as their engagement with other users, and the quality of photos they post. So it’s up to you where to place value on certain realms of WOM, even if they seem to hold influence over readers online.

Determine How You’ll Track Engagement

When you’re measuring how your content is engaging people online, be sure that your metrics accurately reflect the things that matter most to you. When it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, content shouldn’t just be viewed, or liked, but needs to be shared. Shares have a greater impact on the subsequent viewers, because the same content is then seemingly coming from a trusted friend, rather than a brand. Similarly, many companies are sourcing content from their reader base—not only to decrease their expenses, but also because people who publish their own content are more likely to share their work organically, promoting your website or vertical with the power of word-of-mouth.

Optimize your strategy for word-of-mouth marketing with modern insights from Mad 4 Marketing.

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