Last week, I saw a retweet from a friend, proving to me that word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is still a viable form of marketing.

At the time this post has been published, comedian Sam Morril's standup has gained about 150,000 more views. As Morril stated, the large view count is due to word of mouth marketing online.

Word of mouth marketing looked different years ago. Social media didn't have specific functions to encourage it, and the rate at which information spreads has only gotten faster. As a marketer, not being aware of these changes might impact how your image is perceived by the public.

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WOMM is a free form of marketing that can increase sales — and its proven effective, as well, since many prospects trust peer recommendations over a brand's.

Though this form of marketing is nothing new, the way it happens online has evolved over the years.

Let's get into, and specify, five of the biggest ways social media word of mouth marketing has changed.

5 Things That Have Changed with Social Media WOM

Word of mouth marketing is a term for what happens when satisfied customers promote a brand. It can be seen in many ways, from social media shout-outs to video blogs (vlogs), to face-to-face conversations. It's a great way to gain loyal customers from your existing customers who love your brand's products or services.

Social media has definitely played a role in how word of mouth marketing is executed and analyzed online. Here's what you need to know about how WOMM has evolved in 2020.

1. People trust each other more than brands.

Over 90% of consumers trust family and friends' suggestions more than advertising. The major trust in peer suggestion is only helped by social media. For instance, Facebook has a function that lets users ask for recommendations.

Here is an example of how a Facebook recommendation looks:

Facebook recommendation exampleNotice how the Recommendations tool brings up a Facebook Business page and customer rating based on the recommendation made. Essentially, Facebook Recommendations is a WOMM tool within the website.

Keep in mind that even though other social media sites may not have a specific WOMM tool, that doesn't mean its users aren't using them for that purpose. We'll touch more on that later, but for now, let's talk about how you can stay in the minds of customers to increase your chances of being recommended.

Monitor and encourage reviews or a net promoter score (NPS) from customers — they are your word of mouth marketers. Keeping customers happy, monitoring brand image, and fixing grievances from reviews will help you generate more satisfied customers.

2. Influencer marketing is on the rise.

Over the past three years, Google saw a 1500% increase in "influencer marketing" search queries, and over 80% of marketers believe influencer marketing is effective in their strategies. Are you one of them?

Influencer marketing is only growing and helps businesses gain brand awareness, increase sales and conversions, and reach new audiences. Influencers are trusted by their audiences, and are able to engage directly with their audience as an ambassador for your brand.

While influencer marketing, in most cases, isn't a free venture, what you can do instead is reach out to a Key Opinion Leader (KOL) for a product review.

What a KOL review will do is give a new audience a description of your brand and how your products fit into their lives. For example, technology guru and video producer Justine Ezarik (iJustine) has been posting technology reviews on YouTube for over a decade and continues to do so on social media, including Instagram.

This product roundup is an example of how Ezarik uses her platform to help her followers make buying decisions. Ezarik has built a reputation for being a KOL in technology over the past decade, and her loyal fanbase trust her content because of that.

Even if you don't work with influencers or KOLs, by providing a customer experience that impresses audiences, you might catch the eye of one. As influencer marketing rises, so will your chances of being supported.

3. Social media likes don't necessarily mean a recommendation.

From the title of this section, you may be thinking, "Kayla, that's crazy! My latest sponsored tweet got 200 likes! That definitely translates to 200 recommendations."

While a successful tweet is great, it could also mean that the tweet was well-crafted and enjoyable. Granted, a well-performing tweet is indicative of knowing your audience — but it doesn't guarantee a recommendation.

Are you looking for an alternative to likes? Drive your audience to the comment section by including language like, "Let us know what your favorite new feature is in the comments below" or "How has our new [product name] helped you?"

Indicators of successful WOMM include whether people recommend your product to other users, tag their friends to try your brand's products or services, and invite them to follow you.

Instead of promoting your brand through a sponsored tweet, try running a social media giveaway: offer an incentive in a social media post and make the rules of entry include following your page and tagging a couple friends who would love the giveaway.

Let's look at an example:

 
 
 
 
 
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CLOSED || Treat yo’self. You deserve to be spoiled 😘⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Giveaway (Valued at $250)⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ PRIZES INCLUDE:⁠⠀ @pixiemood Bianca Travel Organizer - White Croc⁠⠀ .⁣⁠⠀⁠⠀ @davidstea Wellness Daily Ritual Kit, Perfect Tumbler, Filter and Perfect Spoon⁠⠀ .⁣⁠⠀⁠⠀ @pilgrim_canada Sophia Silver Heart Necklace, Silver Heart Chakra Necklace⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ @bkind.products Floral Bath Mix, Floral Hand Balm, White Jade Facial Roller⠀⁠⠀ ⁣⁠⠀⁠⠀ HOW TO ENTER ⁠⠀⁠⠀ 💖 Like this photo⁠⠀⁠⠀ 💖 Follow @pixiemood, @davidstea, @pilgrim_canada, and @bkind.products⁠⠀ 💖 Tag a friend to show some love today⁠⠀ 💖 Bonus entry if you give this post some love in your stories!⁠⠀ ⁣⁠⠀⁠⠀ Best of luck 😘⁠⠀ ⁣⁠⠀⁠⠀ *Open to US and Canadian residents from 02/14 - 02/16. The winner will be notified through @pixiemood account via a direct message.⁣

A post shared by Pixie Mood (@pixiemood) on

Vegan accessory company Pixie Mood ran an Instagram contest, partnering with a few other brands to do a giveaway. One of their rules was to tag a friend. By doing this, fans of Pixie Mood are spreading the word of a brand they love to a friend.

Offering a prize, like the chance to win something, entices the followers you have to be active word of mouth marketers.

4. Researching has made WOMM more relevant.

People trust online reviews written by other consumers just as much as they trust friends and family, and I am one of them. In fact, 91% of consumers say that reading a positive review makes them more likely to use a business.

For instance, I often turn to read reviews before trying out a new restaurant, store, or business. By encouraging your customers to give reviews of your business on social media, such as Yelp or Facebook, you'll attract customers who are drawn to reviews and scores.

Alternatively, to encourage reviews, you can implement a hashtag for customers to use if they like your products. That way, you'll highlight your brand's uniqueness, build a community for your customers, and have an easier time monitoring reviews.

Skincare company frank body is great at this. Check out their hashtag, #thefrankeffect:

Fans of the company have started to use the hashtag to communicate to their followers why they love the brand, and researchers can click on these hashtags to see satisfied customers showing off their product.

How would you let consumers know about your hashtag? Use it yourself to promote it. Frank body finishes nearly every post with #thefrankeffect, reinforcing their brand and inviting fans to do the same.

Part of the success in what I'm affectionately dubbing "A Hashtag Effect" (Like Glossier's #glossiergirl, and Red Bull's #givesyouwings) in word of mouth marketing is user-generated content, which powers these tags. We'll cover more about user-generated content, next.

5. User-generated content is more important than ever.

Once, I tweeted about how much I love Southwest Airlines, and when they tweeted me back, I felt like a celebrity. By using my social media account to create content that communicates brands I love to my followers, I'm participating in using user-generated content for word of mouth marketing.

User-generated content is potentially more effective than paying influencers. For example, according to Stackla, 79% of people say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

Take shoe company Vans, which has built a community of UGC with the hashtag #myvanspic:

As a consumer, if I were eyeing this pair of Vans, seeing them on a person who loves them, rather than an influencer, would help inform my purchase decision.

As mentioned earlier, to encourage user-generated content, make followers aware that you support it in posts. A simple "Tag us in a picture of you loving your new phone to be featured on our feed," encourages your followers to exercise their brand loyalty in hopes of getting a shout out.

This practice also builds community on social media. Encouraging audience members to post a picture of themselves using your products or creating a hashtag is a way to take brand image on social media even further. Essentially, UGC is a practical, free visual review from customers.

Earlier this week on Facebook, I shared another stand-up video that was on my feed with one of my friends. That friend shared the video, and their friend followed suit. When I went back on Facebook later that day, I saw that so many of our mutual friends had shared it.

Word of mouth marketing is all around us. From Facebook Recommendations to Yelp reviews, there are now more opportunities than ever to incentivize existing customers to share their love of your brand with others. Ultimately, WOMM is now more accessible than ever, at the touch of our fingertips whether we turn to social media or Google — that's how WOMM has evolved in 2020.

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Originally published Mar 10, 2020 5:45:00 PM, updated March 10 2020

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Local Marketing