We’re all in the word-of-mouth (WOM) business. In fact, it’s the grandfather of all things social media – social is but a tool in the WOM toolbox. And while it might be one of the oldest forms of marketing, it’s still (and increasingly so) the most trusted – because people trust people who are “just like me.”
At Edelman, we have a distinct POV when it comes to building sustainable WOM programs around ambassadors/advocates in both the for- and non-profit realms.
1. It’s not a product conversation, it’s a passion conversation
When you get right down to it, people talk about brands because of the impact they have on their lives. In other words, it’s hard to get consumers to be excited about your brand, but it’s easy to get them excited about how your brand makes them love what they love even more. So think about your brand as a conduit – the thing that connects a person and what they’re passionate about – and they’re much more likely to talk about you.
2. Don’t seek influence, create it
I’m not going to tell you that we don’t need influencers, because we do. But think of influencers as an awareness play. And while that top-down approach is happening, we need to also have a bottom-up approach. An effective way to do that is to find hand-raising customers that are passionate and give them the spotlight and opportunity to become influential. They’ll be a lot more loyal in the long run.
3. A barrier of entry isn’t a bad thing
These days, all you have to do to join a program is create a username and password and you’re in. However, we find that programs built this way have a lower engagement rate. When we create a small barrier of entry – like answering the question of WHY you want to join the program – we cut out the lurkers and engagement rates jump significantly. A small barrier of entry ensures the quality of members who join your program.
4. Create a strong identity
It’s hard-wired in your DNA to want to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Creating a name, logo and online/offline tools that your members can identify themselves and one another to the world plays to this need. Get creative so it’s not “Brand X Ambassador Program.”
5. Think about content differently
Studies show that people share content online for three reasons (in order): A) it feeds their ego; B) it’s new or complicated information; and C) it’s emotional (specifically rage- or delight-inducing). So when you’re creating content, be sure to fill at least one of the ego, info or emo buckets.
Even though we live in an over-connected, digital world, 90 percent of WOM recommendations about a brand still happen offline. And harnessing those conversations is powerful. So every time we create an online “thing,” we need to make sure it ties to an offline action, and vise-versa. Because when you do that, you not only increase active recommendations, you increase sales.
How has word-of-mouth affected your personal purchases?