How to use Social Media in Marketing – Word of Mouth
By Matt Foster
It turns out you don’t have to be a genius to market effectively. Providing a customer with your best product or service forms the basis of effective marketing, as friends recommend friends and cause what is known as word-of-mouth marketing.
Over the last 10 years, the number of people using social media has increased to roughly 1.73 billion worldwide according to the Business Trends 2014 report. This has created a whole new platform for brands to reach their potential customers, simply by using word of mouth techniques online.
Brands have always looked to word of mouth marketing as the most basic and rudimentary form of promoting their business. It has been shown that 81% of US consumers are influenced by friends’ recommendations online
. In order to make use of this for an effective marketing campaign, the process can be broken down into four goals depending on the level of custom: attract, convert, close, and for existing customers, delight.Some brands have embraced the age of communication online and created digital-specific campaigns that play a pivotal role in their growth and success. Here are some of the ways that companies have implemented word of mouth:
With the company’s ethos of striving to provide the best coffee beans and service to its customers, Starbucks has always tried to satisfy the customer first to promote the brand. Translating this to their online community was the challenge when social media started to become an obvious need for any business.
Starbucks has taken up a number of campaigns to generate involvement from customers, most recently the annual festive red cups that are used in-store. Recognizing the trend for pictures of food and drink over social media as a kind of ‘tag’ for where people are, customers are encouraged to picture themselves sharing a coffee with a friend with ‘#redcupcontest’. In return, the person uploading the photo can win a prize and Starbucks receives free advertising.
UK-based fashion label Superdry is a real success story of the social media age. Founded in 1985 by Ian Hibbs and Julian Dunkerton, the aim was always for the focus to be away from traditional marketing methods and towards maximizing word of mouth. To implement this, the brand latched onto the trend for media picking up on celebrity clothing and what they’re wearing. The name gained exposure through public interest in celebrity fashion, when both David Beckham and Nicole Scherzinger wore Superdry clothing.
The name of the game for Red Bull’s online marketing efforts has centered around providing content that appeals to its target audience. Sponsoring and curating extreme sports events and spectacles ensures that the brand name is passed along Facebook feeds through content shares. The Red Bull Facebook page has 45,000,000+ people following it for content updates alone.
The power of a strong social media campaign was demonstrated during the summer of 2014, when the ‘ice bucket challenge’ started in aid of the ALS Association. This stands as a great example of how a relatively unknown charity can get its name worldwide.
The ALS Association is a charity which sets out to raise awareness and fund research for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease. The ice bucket challenge benefited from drawing on a number of factors which allowed the campaign to easily spread. The videos were seen as a challenge for friends to outdo one another. Simultaneously, the campaign played on people’s obligation to support a charity and their desire to join a movement. The campaign raised $115 million as a direct result of the social media video campaign and its donations.
While it is simpler now than ever before for brands to make use of social media to increase brand awareness through word of mouth online, the success stories are few and far between. The saturation of social media from brands vying for a ‘share’ or ‘like’ has made it important to offer something unique that will serve or entertain. When done properly, the potential for a company’s growth in a short time can be a temptation too hard to resist.
Matt Foster has worked in the marketing industry for two years and enjoys writing about the development of social media and the role it plays in our everyday life.