The Power of Word of Mouth Marketing: Social Media Heaven or Hell?


Social PR Scoop: Krispy Kreme and Word of Mouth MarketingGetting your customer to tell their friends how amazing you are. That’s one definition of word of mouth marketing, says Andy Sernovitz, better known as the Word of Marketing Guy.

But what is Word of Mouth Marketing really? Social PR Scoops covered a recent workshop hosted by Sernovitz and we liked the application to social media and PR strategies.

According to the world of Sernovitz, word of mouth marketing is:
–       giving people a reason to talk about your stuff
–       making it easier for a conversation to take place (enter the holy grail of social media).

Think back to the first time you went to Krispy Kreme and saw the “hot” sign, Sernovitz reminds us. This company was built almost exclusively on that sign.

Social PR and WOMM Remiders
“Your brand is not what YOU say it is, your brand is what other people say it is.”

The solution to pollution is dilution – as in chemistry, negative press can be diluted with word of mouth marketing efforts.

People need to be prompted to divulge the good, Sernovitz says. Word of mouth marketing is about making it easier to share their good experiences with your brand. This is the challenge and to-do list of a word of mouth marketer.

How to spread the WOMM love (or hate)?
–       get them to talk immediately
–       love and money don’t mix: financial incentives put a stop to positive WOM because it         feels inauthentic
–       nobody talks more than a lover scorned. When you burn a customer, they are             embarrassed.

The bottom line? WOMM starts with keeping your customers happy.

3 main reasons why people talk good and bad about you:
The you, the me, the us

The You: great company, people love your brand. We’re not going to learn about this, assuming you already do this. Purple cow metaphor: people comment on the remarkable, not the ordinary. Therefore, the chocolate problem/the Ritz Carlton problem: you don’t call your friends to brag about the Ritz being nice, because everyone knows that.

Sernovitz’s example: Google Maps. The first time you saw Google Maps, you were impressed. Everybody talked about, spreading the word of mouth that Google Maps is better than Mapquest. How did Google solve the chocolate problem? Give them a fresh reason to talk – live traffic reports, “ultra-creepy” street cam, satellite view, etc. The lesson here: keep it fresh. WOM doesn’t have to be a product feature, it just has to be a cool reason to talk.

The Me Motivation: I’m going to talk about your company because it makes ME feel good/smart/etc. How to support the ego-driven desire to get people to talk about your company? They want blogs, newsletters, new features. “You should buy this because I know this new features is coming out…”

The Us Motivation: People want to feel a part of a community. Example: Makers Mark Brand ambassador: half a million members are talking about the brand for free.

5 T’s of WOMM: Talkers, Topics, Tools, Takers, Tracking
1. Talkers: Find people who are going to talk
– not necessarily customers: Las Vegas cabbies who promote Wynn Hotel. Or, Ferarri enthusiasts aren’t usually owners but car junkies, etc.
2. Topics: Giving people something to say
– example: Apple was doing poorly in 1996, generated word of mouth with colorful iMacs. Instead of trying to boost sales by advertising features, word of mouth was generated by the  cutesy computers. The less you’re worth talking about, the more you have to pay for it.
3. Tools: to help WOM spread
– Just ask, make it easy to embed/share: YouTube has 13 ways to share
– Give them good content worth sharing.
4. Take part: Join the conversation
– Saying thank you and I’m sorry: fundamentals of social media communications
5. Tracking: measure and listen
– Generally, for every one person a happy customer tells, the same customer would tell five if  they are unhappy. And if the situation isn’t rectified, the number doubles: the customer will tell 10 people about their experience. So, it all relates back to customer happiness.

Looking for where the social media leaders are hanging out and chatting? Try, a forum to discuss social media and its rapid changes or join the Social PR conversation with The Buyer Group on Facebook and Twitter!


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