What's one of the first things you do when you hear about a good deal or a great product? You tell your nearest and dearest. Your customers are no different. Thinking about the concept of word-of-mouth sales through the lens of social media may be key in helping your business drive sales, inspire loyalty, and even grow to reach new markets.
What is word-of-mouth sales and marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing is essentially free advertising from your customers. It's what happens when they tell others about the great experience they have had with your company, products, or services. In the past, many of those conversations happened offline and face to face. Some still do, but with billions of people on social media, those conversations are happening online, too. For example, according to Facebook, some 65% of US Facebook users say that Facebook Stories help them feel more connected to friends, and 58% browse a brand's website after seeing their Facebook story.
Why are word-of-mouth sales important?
The biggest reason your business should drive word-of-mouth sales is the trust factor. According to the 2021 Nielsen's Trust in Advertising study, an online survey of more than 40,000 consumers around the world, 88% of consumers mostly trust recommendations from the people they know. The study also found that 50% of consumers trust those recommendations more than any kind of advertising.
Other benefits of gaining word-of-mouth sales include:
Improving brand awareness and visibility as you get traffic to your social media profiles and website from people who've recommended you.
Improved customer relationships, because when customers feel that you are listening to and communicating with them, that also improves their relationship with you and increases brand loyalty.
Increased trust for your brand, because your business has been recommended by someone your new customers trust.
More search traffic. As people post about your company or brand, those posts will show up in search engine results pages.
Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, says word-of-mouth is essentially customer to customer marketing, and it's about open, honest, ethical communication. Done right, it's a powerful driver of sales.
How to Get Word-of-Mouth Sales on Social Media
How can you encourage word-of-mouth sales via social media? Here are some tips.
Consider tagging and thanking the customers who leave great reviews to build the relationship and make them feel good about being seen.
1. Encourage User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) is content created by your customers, which also means it's content potential customers may trust much more than your advertising. A common approach to this is to have a branded hashtag and ask users to photograph themselves with your product and upload pictures using the hashtag. Many companies use this technique effectively to spread the word and build brand loyalty.
2. Ask For Reviews
When it comes to driving word-of-mouth sales on social media, positive customer reviews are an advantage, so it's important to make it easy for people to leave reviews. Not only should you set up your Google, Instagram and Facebook business profiles, but you can also reach out to customers after every purchase to encourage them to rate and review you. Then you can use those reviews on social media to encourage even more sales. Consider tagging and thanking the customers who leave great reviews to build the relationship and make them feel good about being seen.
3. Use Influencer Marketing
Recent research suggests that influencer marketing on social media platforms can help build relationships and drive sales. Influencers are trusted and can aid brand discovery. However, the recommendation from the influencer has to be authentic to be successful. The State of Influencer Marketing 2022 report by Influencer Marketing Hub, which surveyed 2,000 people, suggests that influencer marketing is an excellent way to reach Gen Z, and consumers aged 25-34.
4. Show Your Values
According to a 2020 study by IBM Institute for Business Value, in association with the National Retail Federation, 40% of consumers want to buy products aligned with their values. (The study surveyed 18,980 consumers in 28 countries.) When customers see that your values align with theirs, they may be inspired to share information about your values and your company widely.
5. Start a Referral Program
Social media is an excellent platform to start and run a referral program to drive even more sales. With the right incentive, such as a coupon, discount, or even a chance of a prize, your customers can get the opportunity to spread the word about your company.
The bottom line is that you don't always have to spend huge amounts on ad campaigns. Instead, leverage the power of happy customers to help drive word-of-mouth sales on social media.
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