21 Aug The Power of Word of Mouth
Contrary to what some people may believe, word of mouth is not an outdated, archaic marketing tool. Word of mouth and the role it plays for companies has changed through the years – there’s no doubting that. But through these changes, it is in fact just as important as ever. People still talk, share their opinions, and influence others, just in different ways than before. We’ve outlined below the changing role of word of mouth in the marketing field, and also why it is still a vital thing for companies to pay attention to.
How it has changed
More online communication
In some ways, word of mouth has actually expanded its reach and importance. In the age of the internet, people are not just talking about brands to their close acquaintances face-to-face. They are also posting about them on social media, talking about them on message boards, and sharing their thoughts on review sites. The web of influence one customer’s experience can have has grown, from just the handful of people they would have spoken to about their experience a few years ago, to the hundreds of people they now share their thoughts with online.
Influencer Marketing is a form of word of mouth
It’s not just your average, everyday customers talking about brands online either. Influencers, more than anyone, talk about brands, products, and companies on their large and widely-followed social media channels. This is word of mouth on an extreme scale. Many influencers’ followers put a lot of trust in their opinions, so whatever an influencer says about your brand is bound to have a pretty large impact.
Expanded avenues for sharing
This goes hand in hand with the points above, but there are more channels than ever through which people can share their thoughts and opinions nowadays. People can (and do) still talk directly to their close friends and family about experiences they have had with different products and brands. But whereas that was pretty much the extent of word of mouth in the past, now it reaches far beyond that. There are always new sites and apps being created that allow for customers to share their opinions. The channels through which word of mouth can spread are seemingly limitless.
Why it still matters
So with this changing landscape, what is the importance of word of mouth today?
Plays a particular role for small businesses
Traditional word of mouth still has an important place in the reputation of small, local businesses. These companies often do not have large marketing budgets, and still rely on positive reviews and recommendations to spread their reach. Even with globalization and digitalization, these businesses often still rely on their core, local customers to spread the word.
Customers trust each other
Your brand’s marketing department has a vested interest in presenting your products or services in the best light possible. Many consumers realize this, and so do not always trust information coming directly from the brand itself. Hearing a review from a friend, or even a stranger online, can often seem more trustworthy and unbiased than a company’s advertisements. In this way, word of mouth has not changed. If anything, consumers are more informed than ever now about business practices, and so are even more likely to favor the “unbiased” opinion of others.
Opinions are spreading faster than ever
Finally, we have all seen how information can spread like wildfire across the internet. From viral videos to international new stories, information can spread worldwide in a matter of minutes. This can be true of customer reviews and opinions online as well. A negative customer experience will not only be shared with their handful of friends anymore – it could make it’s way around the world on a review site like Yelp. This gives companies less of an opportunity to do damage control, because often by the time they are made aware of the issue, it is too late, and their reputation has already been harmed.
So now more than ever, it is important for companies to be aware of the role word of mouth plays in purchasing decisions. This role has not weakened in recent years – if anything, it is stronger than ever.