Five Digital Channels For Word of Mouth Marketing

This guest blog is written by J-P De Clerck, who is an experienced interactive marketing journalist and blogger. Like Mindjumpers, he is associated with Social Marketing Forum.

Word of mouth, referral, viral and connected marketing have been around for a long time. But with the arrival of social media their strength has increased even more.

The rules have also changed and the emphasis is more than ever on people since they decide what’s valuable, share-worthy and what channels they use. Interaction and participation play a role in both connected marketing and in conventional outbound forms of communication such as e-mail marketing.

Word of mouth marketing has found a strong partner in social media which further emphasizes more personal and relevant relations with clients, prospects, brand advocates and communities.

The whole online influence and relationships sphere of your business is important and contacts take place between real people: your internal clients or employees and the people in your company’s ecosystem.

Word of mouth marketing is first and foremost an issue of connections and the right content, psychological triggers and “what’s in it for me” that together lead stories if they have any value for the users. But of course it must also be possible to spread these stories.

Or in other words: the channels are important as well. These (online) channels further ensure that you can monitor the stories and how they are spread and identify influencers.

The best choice for word of mouth marketing is an integrated approach whereby you don’t lose sight of the offline aspect.

There are several important channels for online word of mouth marketing:

1. E-mail
This relates to both e-mail marketing and the medium e-mail itself. Various studies indicate that people talk to others about products and companies via e-mail. In the area of e-mail marketing there are naturally all so-called SWYN tools: send-to-a-friend modules, social sharing tools etc. If you measure the social interaction with your e-mails properly, you will be able to identify influencers easily.

2. Social networking sites
Social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are suitable in various ways for word of mouth marketing. It happens spontaneously via the interactions between people on such sites, but also by assembling relevant pages and communities whereby you closely follow the feedback of the communities and provide a viral element. Next to the use of social network sites you can also use proprietary community platforms.

3. Blogging and micro-blogging
Blogs are social media hubs and at the same time destinations and sources of word of mouth marketing. Demonstrate your know-how for example and share valuable content and teasers. But also place your visitors in the spotlight and always think about dialoging. Micro-blogs, of which Twitter is the most famous, add an enormous dimension to this.

4. Review and referral channels
Give your clients, fans and even critics the opportunity to discuss your product, make a comparison, take care of referrals and share their opinion. They do this in any case on other platforms and peer review sites. Participate in these discussions. Don’t manipulate them, simple participate. People often trust the advice of other people. Participate as a person and not as a company. Put the reviews in the spotlight and ensure even more word of mouth marketing.

5. Social content channels
Content is the basis of a story and therefore also of word of mouth. At present there are thousands of ways to create content that ensures word of mouth, as long as it is relevant, fun, useful etc. Think benefits for the target group and take care of blog posts, online videos on YouTube, presentations on slideshare, infographics or photos on Flickr, etc.

And, finally, a carefully planned online campaign, won’t hurt your word of mouth marketing either but don’t make the mistakes many have…

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The power is in the hands of the customers, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent an individual expressing their opinion – other than of course trying to deal with it in the right way. Any kind of post or comment doesn’t just disappear by itself. And as we have seen so many times, one bad story just leads to another because fans start relating to each other. This is what all brands fear in social media. (more…)