Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM), is an unpaid form of promotion—oral or written—in which satisfied existing customers tell other people how much they like a business, product, service, or event. Word-of-mouth is not new at all. It is in fact one of the oldest yet most credible forms of advertising because people who don't stand to gain personally by promoting something put their reputations on the line every time they make a recommendation.
George Silverman, a psychologist, pioneered word-of-mouth marketing when he created what he called “teleconferenced peer influence groups” in order to engage physicians in dialogue about new pharmaceutical products. Silverman noticed an interesting phenomenon while conducting focus groups with physicians in the early 1970s. “One or two physicians who were having good experiences with a drug would sway an entire group of skeptics. They would even sway a dissatisfied group of ex-prescribers who had negative experiences!”
Now that we are in the online space, Digital Word-of-mouth marketing can influence the consumers’ buying decision. All of us are influenced by the word-of-mouth in one way or the other. Just think back to the time you asked for advice or an opinion from your friends and peers before purchasing a relatively expensive commodity. Or think about the last time you did online research to finalize your service provider or to purchase a product. In my case, by default, I would read online reviews from previous customers when buying things at Amazon or Ebay for instance. All these are the outcomes of the digital word-of-mouth marketing.
So, let’s go a step ahead and explore what modes of digital word of mouth marketing are available to us:
1. Share with a Friend
Social networking websites provide us a great platform to connect with our family and friends located anywhere across the globe. Facebook,LinkedIn, Twitter etc. have now become a part and parcel of our daily lives. Happy, sad or confused- our status can spread the word within our network. For example: – on purchase of every product from your website, give an option to your customers to share that with their connections on the social networking websites.
2. Reviews & Testimonials
Whether going out to dine at a restaurant, or about to purchase a laptop, or intending to hire a web consultant, etc., we all tend to go through the testimonials, reviews and ratings prior to making our purchase. This is the power of asking for a review or a testimonial from a customer . The previous buyer would give a review, which can then be shared with others. This would be a good referral mechanism to build trust on your company without incurring additional costs. These testimonials serve as effective marketing collateral for your website that can potentially increase more traffic to your website or fanpage.
3. Fan Page
Creating a Facebook fan page is an excellent and cost-efficient way to connect with your clients, prospects and business partners. A number of activities can be done through Facebook apps that can aid you in doing your digital word-of-mouth marketing. Things such as status updates on Facebook, adding photos and videos to catch the eye of the target group, creating events and inviting your fans to attend, interactive activities such as games, online contests, promotions, etc. to engage your fans and the like, are some of the ways to do viral marketing organically through Facebook.
These are just some of the online ways of opportunities to do digital word-of-mouth marketing. For businesses, customer evangelism using entrenched advocates is one of the most affordable marketing channels; yet it provides some of the highest return on investment. More and more companies expand their reach thanks to the help of existing customers. And the existence of Social Media like Facebook only allows the WOMM to grow virally in an exponential way. This is what Social Loyalty or Digital Word-of-Mouth Marketing is all about.