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Word-of-Mouth Marketing in the Digital Age
Posted on May 6th 2014
The advent of technology and the rise of social media in the Digital Age have changed the way that consumers receive marketing messages and perceive advertisements. The entire process involved in buying a product has been transformed, and traditional advertising is beginning to lose its effect and importance.
Paid media – television and radio commercials, print advertisements, billboards – still influence the consumer to a certain extent, but not as much as they used to. People are inundated with these forms of advertising, and it can be overwhelming. With so many ads and commercials out there all the time, the atmosphere has become congested with self-promotions from companies, leading the consumer to ignore the constant claims of product superiority.
Word-of-mouth marketing – earned media – is the oldest form of advertising, the most simple and often the most effective. Before there were billboards, radio commercials or newspaper ads, people shared their opinions of products and services through conversation. Today, with the online communities that form on social networking sites, word-of-mouth marketing has become even more important.
No longer does consumer promotion of a product have to be limited to one-on-one conversation. Social media sites, blogs, and online testimonials are platforms in which people can speak their mind and reach thousands of people at once.
Digital word-of-mouth is social media marketing. Companies must understand the power that consumers possess on social networks and the influence they can have over each other concerning the purchases of goods and services. Consumers are much more likely to believe the advice and opinions of their peers over advertisements coming directly from the company. People talk about products they like because they believe they are of high quality, and they feel the need to share their satisfaction with others.
Before making a purchase, especially if it is a new product or something expensive, consumers like to do a certain amount of research beforehand. This usually consists of seeking the opinions of others and checking out what people have to say online. Both of these forms of product research are examples of word-of-mouth marketing; people talking to other people about a business and the goods or services that they sell.
Some companies realize the potential of social media marketing, but they make the mistake of paying people to fabricate positive product reviews and post them online. Although it’s possible to get away with this, the end result is usually not organic and could end up tarnishing the reputation of a business.
Naturally, people will believe fellow consumers and be skeptical of businesses that self promote, and if they find out that they cannot even trust online testimonials to be genuine, that company and its products will lose their dependability.
One of the most important things a business can do in trying to generate positive digital word-of-mouth marketing is to create a Facebook business page. Each time a consumer likes the company’s page, that’s automatic approval of its products and services by a member of the online community. Engaging the c
onsumer on Facebook is also an effective way to get people talking and spread the word about a company. Businesses can do this by creating events and inviting fans, coming up with contests and drawings, and designing interactive activities such as online games to get consumers involved.
Companies spend millions of dollars each year on traditional advertisements, which can still serve a purpose and influence consumers. But digital word-of-mouth marketing is becoming increasingly more important in the eyes of businesses and their advertising teams. It is extremely effective, it’s authentic, and it can help bring customers to your doors in droves.
Bughin, Jacques. “A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing” McKinsey Quarterly http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Marketing/
Hausman, Angela, Ph D. “Social Media Marketing is Digital Word of Mouth” Hausman Marketing Letter http://hausmanmarketresearch.org/digital-word-of-mouth-can-you-trust-em
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