Why Social Media Is Not Word of Mouth Marketing

Yesterday, a client mentioned that he thought word of mouth was just a byproduct of social media and public relations efforts. So we've distilled our notes from that discussion into this short article.

Ideally, word of mouth (WOM) should be the foundation of your marketing strategy. And it can start anywhere:  advertising, social media content, at a conference or a tasting event.  WOM is not a byproduct of social media, public relations, event marketing or advertising; it is the guiding principle or rather the goal when crafting the message that is passed along these channels.
Word of Mouth Needs To Be Kick Started
WOM is, in a nutshell, the most talkable piece of a product, company or service.  It’s the viral in viral marketing.  Social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and others are channels can amplify the ‘talking’ or ‘sharing’ or ‘word of mouth’ around the brand.  However, the channel or the tactic doesn’t define the message, the brand and its champions do that.   Because most word of mouth happens offline, the message needs to resonate offline as well.

So does word of mouth happen on its own?  It can, but in many cases it needs a little help from an experienced strategist and some tools to get the ball rolling.  If you think of word of mouth marketing as a conversation around the water cooler at work, it doesn’t just happen, it needs someone to initiate it and then someone to pass it along. The brand team can be the WOM starter and your brand advocates are likely to carry the ball.

A great example of crafting a talkable message is our consumer work on a live entertainment project for Ogden Entertainment.  The venue was a dinner theatre modeled after a red carpet awards show.  There were two ways we were considering; the company was entering a new venture(a totally viable option) or that everyone could have their 15 minutes of fame.

We did our research, collected the data and used our intuition to convince the client to embrace their inner Andy Warhol.  And it was a stunning success.  We secured more than 200 executive interviews, the story ran in 23 countries and generated millions of media impressions.  When Neil Strauss’ article ran on the front page of the arts section in the New York Times, the volume of calls for reservations was so heavy it shut the venue’s phone system down.
We recently developed a recommendation engine to give brand advocates a one click tool to facilitate word of mouth on user-generated review sites and to family and friends. When ask, almost 25 percent of a restaurant’s advocates will use the tool to pass along their recommendation. This creates a surge in awareness and increased traffic.

At Angelsmith, before we begin any project, whether it’s developing a website, email marketing, influencer outreach campaign or other tactics, we elevate the brands’ most word of mouth-worthy points so constituents can easily find it, share it and talk about it.

If you would like to know more about how to give brand advocates the power to pass along awesome recommendations, please contact Bill Freed at bill@angelsmith.com .