Guest post by Charlotte Corner.
Over the last decade word of mouth marketing (WOM) has evolved from face-to-face conversation into a whole different ball game. Now, a majority of the world’s population interacts across additional platforms, from social media, to email and blog comments. Unlike traditional conversation, these new platforms are open to interaction from virtually anyone who takes an interest. This case study will look at the opportunities for businesses, and explore some remarkable examples of word of mouth marketing.
Put in perspective, as of 2014, in Canada alone, a massive 82% of us are active on some form of social media. This means the potential reach of a single comment or conversation between two people can be global within a matter of seconds. For business owners this can be both an incredible opportunity and a daunting prospect.
Firstly, looking at the positives, this provides an opportunity for brands to positively influence both prospective and existing customers on a previously inaccessible scale. However on the other hand, if not managed correctly, bad press through WOM could literally make or break a campaign in terms of brand reputation and sales figures.
However knowing where to start when it comes to creating a successful campaign can be a complete minefield. Marketing guru Geno Church has explained there are a trio of motivations that encourage word of mouth conversations around brands.
- Functional: Conversations are generated in order to make agreement and choose which brands are useful and which aren’t.
- Social: People converse about brands online to look good and to build up their own sense of reputation.
- Emotional: Brands that create immediate reactions are more inclined to be discussed in both online and offline situations.
Together with the rise of mobile social interaction, the boundary between the offline and online world has become thinner than ever. Church has also investigated theories about how the relationship between offline and online are linked.
Online: The more public platform (also, voyeuristic) where people feel they have to show how brilliant, unique and special they are. This is called a ‘discontinuous conversation’ because you can actually decide when to respond, and you have the time to determine how you want to respond (depending on how good you want to look.) This is about making a social connection, not an emotional one.
Offline: The more personal space, where you have more instantaneous, face-to-face conversations. This is called ‘continuous conversation’ because it is naturally more emotional, more spontaneous, authentic and real.
Here’s a look at some examples of brands taking full advantage of WOM.
Ever since it was founded in 1985, the UK-based fashion brand Superdry has always rallied against the mainstream when it comes to both its branding and marketing approach. UK brands have synonymously struggled to cross the pond into North American markets, however Superdry found themselves in the spotlight after David Beckham and Justin Bieber were spotted wearing their garments. Superdry has since expanded into the wider markets like Canada and US due the demand after celebrities started the craze for the Japanese inspired clothing. This was then a catalyst, provoking a number of well-known celebrities to pioneer the brand, resulting in cross-continent audience engagement with the brand.
Without a doubt, the majority of the online world is familiar with what was probably one, if not the most, successful viral campaign of 2014 – the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This is a great example of a previously almost unknown charity utilising social media and as Geno Church stated, the emotion involved in the passion, triggered the passion and fuel to create an impact on a huge global scale. In turn, this well-received trend generated the association over $100 million, almost 50 times what the charity made over the same period the previous year.
With all this considered, for small businesses in particularly, WOM should definitely be a consideration when it comes to crafting a marketing campaign. Although it may take some time to get right, when done well, WOM can without doubt be one of the most cost effective forms of marketing. Coupled with the constant rise in social engagement, it can allow for even the smallest of businesses to become a major player in their industry.
Charlotte Corner is a content specialist for www.searchlaboratory.com. You can find her on Twitter @charlottecrunch.