“Word of Mouth” in the Digital Age
As we all know, the Internet is an accessible, all-in-one tool that allows people to obtain any information with just a single click. Considered a vital component of daily life, the Internet is especially important to millennials who rely on it to gather important information, buy products, book travel and research brands and products. Now, consumers don’t just have easy access online to information about products, services and brands, but can also shape consumer perception by sharing their experiences or making recommendations with the masses on platforms with large followings. With applications like Yelp, TripAdvisor and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram we’re truly experiencing the digital form of “Word of Mouth.” More than ever, it is important for companies and brands to not only provide customers with digital platforms where customers can share their experiences, but also monitor the conversations that take place on these platforms.
Are you paying attention to what your customers are saying about your brand online? The reality is that potential and future customers pay attention to what is being said about your company or brand online, and that information is influencing and motivating their consumer choices. The power of persuasion is now digital too. With the explosion of social media, the influencer was born. The modern day influencer is a person with a significant and large social media and digital following. Suddenly, the situation has shifted from a “nobody” commenting on an experience, to an influencer commenting on an experience that could potentially affect the perception thousands of people have about your product or service. Ratings and reviews by influencers have become so powerful that even marketing departments in top companies and brands use their reviews to endorse their products and services.
Let the Cycle Begin
Every time someone is thinking and deciding to buy something, a new cycle starts. This means that a new process of discovering, researching, deciding, and advocating begins. During the product discovery consumers and influencers learn and gather information from a wide variety of sources. According to different sources, 53 percent of people use brands, peers, and influencer’s Facebook pages to discover and learn more about products and services they are interested in before making any decision; followed by blogs, Pinterest and Instagram accounts as a second source of information. For information gathering, 65 percent of customers base their decisions according to the reviews and comments that influencers and others posted on Facebook, blogs, a brand’s website, and other social media outlets. The last step is the post-purchase advocacy, because people have always something to say, whether good or bad. Seventy percent of consumers (and influencers) use their social media outlets to share their product or service purchase and experience. Among the reasons buyers share their experiences are: they have something positive to say, they have something negative to say, and/or they enjoy sharing their option while they help other to decide.
Leveraging Online Reviews
Did you know that the blogging and influencer phenomenon started by the innocent act of brands and companies sending their products to bloggers so they can use it and then talk about it? These cool people, who received the product and shared their thoughts with other readers and followers, usually did not charge any money because everything was based on a legitimate experience. However, when brands realized the importance that readers and followers give to these bloggers, and without knowing, influencers, companies gave them even more relevance and wanted them to talk more about their brand. As soon as influencers realized they became influencers, the business shifted a bit more and money started to be part of the equation. Nevertheless, they now charge and receive benefits when they name a brand or make a review, people still believe in what they say. You can do the exercise of thinking about a brand you really like or even a influencer you follow and the time you had at least considered to get something after reading or seeing what that person said and how much you trusted her or his.
If you want to pay attention to what others say about your brand of if you want to know what makes a review good, these are the things you have to consider:
- The personal touch or experience the individual adds to the comment.
- Lists of pros and cons
- Start ratings – even on Netflix!
- Number of reviews
- Number off comments, or likes/dislikes, on the post
In sum, though much has changed in how people research and share information, some things have remained the same: people’s opinions can still build, or destroy, a company or brand’s reputation. What is your company or brand doing to not only provide customers with the opportunity to share their experiences with your product or service online, but also mediate that engagement?