WAKE UP CALL: Word of Mouth Marketing more than Social Media

Social media experts will tell you that social is word of mouth marketing (WOMM). Experienced grassroots marketers may be confused, thinking word of mouth occurs person-to-person in a wide variety of ways, with social offering another venue for that. Now grassroots marketers have the proof to push back on social media experts.

A recent study from the Temkin Group shows post purchase word of mouth feedback will more likely occur via email, phone calls, in person, or directly to the company rather than social media.

Even better when it comes to social channels, while Facebook and Twitter rank fourth and sixth as the most likely venues, fifth are social review sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor.

This makes sense. Why just go to the water cooler? If you’re vested enough to review a product, you would go to where people talk about and research the products.

CMOs seeking to inspire WOMM need to pay attention. If you’re banking solely on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve hampered your word of mouth strategy right out of the gate.

WOMM is more than social media.

Continue making your site, content, and yes, email receipts shareable, but also go further. Give customers different ways of sharing their product experience. Whether it’s unique packaging and collateral customers can share, easy access to the company’s customer service team, or building in store and online experiences to inspire customer chatter, your brand needs to consider how it can empower customers to talk about you.

It’s the overall, integrated customer experience that ensures a wide net of grassroots possibilities.

Five Guys
Five Guys burger image by joo0ey

One of my favorite case studies in Marketing in the Round (co-authored with Gini Dietrich) is Five Guys. Five Guys became the country’s fastest growing fast food chain by focusing on their in-store experience, from the food to the way employees interact with you. This includes dynamic training programs to encourage consistent food experiences and great employee interaction.

Five Guys has built its brand on the reputation it achieved through customer referrals and word of mouth. The media began paying attention, and the high-end burger chain garnered great reviews as it spread out of the Mid-Atlantic.

It’s only in the past couple of years that the company added Twitter and Facebook presences to extend its grassroots presence. Given the company’s Twitter follower count, some social media experts might consider them a failure. Glad they’re not running the company!

What do you think? Is WOMM all social and is all social WOMM?