social media research

Do you want people to tell their friends about your business?

Are you getting positive word of mouth?

New research shows that word-of-mouth marketing has grown exponentially on social media.

In this article you’ll discover three ways you can encourage customers to tell their friends about you.

#1: Customer Service Tips the Scales analyzed 1 billion brand mentions in a recent study. What they found is somewhat surprising: 76% of brand mentions on the web and social media are neither positive nor negative.

capitalize on word of mouth

Find out to capitalize on social media word on mouth mentions.

What does this mean? On social media, neutral mentions blend into the background. When 76% of brand mentions are basically ignored, the positive and negative mentions stand out.

So how can you turn a neutral into a positive? One way is to provide excellent customer service. Use your website and other platforms to let customers know they can find you on social media when they have customer service needs.

mention research data

Mention research shows neutral online mentions outweigh online mentions with sentiment.

When people connect with brands on social networks, they have high expectations. For example, consumers want brands to respond to their tweets in less than an hour. Make sure your staff is equipped with the proper resources and information to meet those expectations.

Don’t take the easy way out by responding to requests with numbers to call or promises to pass on information and complaints. Be ready to talk with customers online and offer real solutions.

Because social media is such a public space, others will see your interactions with your customers. Leave your customers happy and they’re more likely to thank you publicly with positive feedback.

#2: Easy Sharing Encourages Social Proof

Are you more likely to go to a new restaurant because the restaurant claims it has good food or because a trusted friend says it’s worth trying? There’s an implicit level of trust in any friendship that can’t be replicated between brand and consumer—this extends to purchasing behavior.

Conversations with friends and family are the most trusted source of information for consumers—and brands know it. eMarketer reports that brands view social sharing as the most effective use of social media.

According to research firm eMarketer, 68% of U.S. social media users ages 18-34 and 53% of those ages 35-44 say they are at least somewhat likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media updates.

When your customers share positive opinions and experiences on social media, it increases your credibility among potential customers in a way you, as a business, can’t. Social proof is a clear motivator.

emarketer research data

eMarketer data shows a correlation between user brand mentions and purchases.

So the question is, how can you convert customers into evangelists? Make it easy for them to share their positive experiences and give them public attention.

How many times have you made a purchase you’re excited about, but didn’t necessarily tell your friends about? Probably quite often. People don’t necessarily refrain from talking about your brand because they’re wholly against it—they just have other things to do.

As a brand, you can facilitate more sharing by making it as easy as possible for your customers to talk about you on social media.

One of the easiest places to start is your thank-you page confirming an online purchase.

After all, this is when your customers are likely to be the most excited about their new item.

Include a couple of sentences on the thank-you page graciously thanking customers for their purchase and asking them to share with their friends. Then provide customized social sharing icons that include pre-populated text mentioning the purchased product. The easier you make it to share, the more likely people are to follow through.

In fact, offer as many outlets as possible where customers can provide feedback. Join services like Yelp, Citysearch, Google Places and other review sites associated with your location and industry and solicit customer reviews.

Asking for shares, reviews and feedback is a fairly standard practice. What many brands fail to do is feature testimonials and brand evangelists on their websites and social media profiles. What a missed opportunity!

People love attention and special treatment—the customers you feature will likely become even stronger supporters of your brand. Plus, showcasing objective opinions on your website may increase your credibility among potential customers.

Consider hosting a customer of the week program on your blog and on social media, where you feature a story and testimonial from one of your satisfied customers.

#3: Entertainment Generates Shares

Here’s the unfortunate truth: No one spends time on social networks for the advertising. However, 82% of consumers do enjoy content from a brand as long as it provides personal value—usually in the form of humor.

pew research research data

Pew Research data shows a correlation between user brand mentions and purchases.

In fact, Pew Research shows that 35% of men and 43% of women are on Facebook to see entertaining or funny posts. If you’re not afraid to get creative, you have a huge opportunity right in front of you. If people want humor, why fight it?

Take this example from Purina. They created a video of an older cat giving advice to the family’s new kitten—it’s equal parts humor and adorable.

Purina focused on content rather than obvious commercial branding. Viewers shared and talked about the video not because it was a commercial, but because it entertained them and they knew their friends would enjoy it as well.

Over to You

Give your audience and customers a reason to talk about you. Provide excellent online customer service, make it easy for people to tell others about you and give them a reason to laugh. All of your efforts will likely result in positive reviews and extended social proof.

People share on social media for the same reasons brands do—to build their reputations and establish themselves as useful sources of information. When you provide an outlet for people to meet this goal, everyone’s happy.

What do you think? How do you encourage word-of-mouth marketing? What other tactics can you recommend? Tell us in the comment box below!

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  • DonMiguel2

    Another way to look at the data from eMarketer is that well over half of respondents over age 45 say they are not at all likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s recommendation on social media. You need to look at all the data, not just younger age groups.

  • Hi Don Miguel – yes you are right that people over 45 aren’t likely to make a purchase based on this medium. Like many studies, there are a number of different ways to cut and slice this data. I focused on the numbers here that stood out to me – that a very percentage of people in a wide age group prioritize this medium in their purchasing decisions.

  • @MrKapsloc

    Great article. I am going to enjoy going through the data myself to extract creative insights.

  • This is great to keep in mind! It’s especially important to use humor within posts that will engage the audience. Thank you for sharing!

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: Mobile Ad Revenue Surges, Facebook Launches Cross-Device Ad Reports & More()

  • Most small business owners believe over half their business comes from client referrals, but 80% admit they have no systematic way of generating referrals. Emerging referral marketing products like Reward Dragon combine client testimonials, social sharing, and referral rewards to help local businesses boost word-of-mouth sales.

  • Dimeji Mudele

    Amazing stuffs. Thanks

  • Whitney

    Is there a way to get this in a PDF

  • Client referrals are always important… or even simply receiving positive recognition from an existing customer through a social platform – it’s often enough to grasp the attention of another prospect, even if they don’t buy straight away. Either way they create positive brand awareness, and build enough of that good stuff and the sales should start to come as a direct result.

  • Thanks so much for including the data from our white paper, Kiera!

  • Thank you Jeremy, and excellent point!

  • Thank you! Good luck with your analysis!

  • Thank you Justine! I’m a huge fan of the cat video myself (even though I’m a dog person)

  • Thanks Dimeji! Glad you enjoyed the read.

  • Great point, Jay! Thanks for reading.

  • You’re welcome! It was an excellent paper with great insights.

  • Great article! Social media is really an effective tool to get exposure and attract more customers. Of course, you still need to share posts that are relevant to your business. The posts should also include good content.

  • Catharine Symblème

    There is also the (alarming!) fact that younger users WILL grow up someday…and probably spend more money as they make more money. Millennials will always be millennials…but they’re not always going to be 18-34-year-olds, believe it or not 🙂

  • Roisin Bell

    Look at it this way – 40% of people aged 45-54 ARE likely to make a purchase – this is still a huge number.