For centuries it has remained evident that word of mouth is the best form of advertising a business can ask for. Endless customer surveys and questionnaires are conducted and still the final question remains; ‘ …and would you recommend this to a friend?’. But, centuries ago our social groups were probably what we would now consider as ‘local’. To think of the reaches we can access now through social media is a stark contrast. The term for this ‘e-wom’ (electronic word of mouth).
Our praises for a product can be expelled out to our 300+ Facebook friends, be tweeted and blogged reaching thousands in mere minutes. And we do it constantly, without even realizing that we are doing it. For example, you go out to meet some friends for dinner…before, after or during one of the group would have posted something like; ‘Great time eating at _______...’ You can even check yourself in at that exact restaurant, in your exact city. Then you tag your friends, add your hashtags and ‘post’. Within minutes people will have ‘liked’ and commented on it; and that’s it. You have marketed a product to tonnes of people without even thinking about it. Be honest, if one of your friends posts about something you like you will start thinking about it, and often buying it yourself. Its fun and its sharing, and that is what social media is for.
So it can be easily deduced from this that ‘e-wom’ is has incredible potential if you want to launch or continue a successful product, service or brand.
In contrast of this, it has been proven that if you enjoy a product or service you are actually less likely to talk about it. But if you have had a bad experience, you generally tell anyone you come into contact with. Of course social media doesn’t have a filter of who sees what you post so it’s evening out the ratio slightly; but still there is a risk now that really has been taken out of any businesses hands.
The issue that this introduces is that one simple criticism can snowball and suddenly begin a #angrymob against your product or site in plain, public view. Many large companies in the past few years have invested in a social media department, which will monitor any bad press. If they get an online complaint, they will contact the disgruntled consumer directly and arrive at some agreement – off screen, preferably. This can quell small disputes but the public are scary and demand high standards. If your product or service has an issue it must be rectified – and fast. Bad online press for a company can be extremely damaging.
Like us, celebrities are also constantly promoting products, people and services online. Unknown to many, this free marketing is actually illegal. An example below; Kim Kardashian promoting both Reebok and Dicks Sports Co.
This unashamed way of plugging and promoting other products is incredibly effective. No effort from the business or the celebrity has to be made; but still within seconds the exposure is global.
So where do business ethics come into this? It seems only the biggest and most prominent brands are getting the use of it. Many smaller companies must be a little disgruntled as they fight for space in this already overcrowded domain. But if there is the capacity to monitor this, who is responsible? The big companies are benefitting so obviously not them and what can the social media sites do to prevent it? This is something we may see unfold…
Another positive of e-wom is the exposure it gives to non-profit organisations such as charities. Big and small, global and local charities can set up accounts like any other business and get themselves recognised. I hope to see more emphasis and help for those who are trying to use social media to promote helping others.
The instantaneous online world can be sporadic but using e-wom seems extremely effective for many businesses. It is proving, like any form of advertising that as long as you know your market, you can get positive results from putting yourself into the public domain and being talked about.
Do not be ignorant in the fact that if you get your product or business on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook that you can become complacent. Plant the right seeds at the right time, keep up to date and interactive and you will build an online presence.
It is clear that the most successful brands are using tried and tested business strategies and applying it in the world of social media. Use e-wom to propel your business into the online world, be careful of the risks, and refrain from being blasé – do your research and you will get the results.
Do you do your companies social media or do you use a management company?