As the follow-up to our first blog post in the A-to-Z WOM series, we wanted to focus on how the proliferation of social media adoption has transformed the way in which we share information, and how you, savvy marketer, can harness this powerful trend in service of your company’s objectives for 2013.
So, why is social so important for businesses? At risk of restating the obvious, social media is where your customers and future customers are spending their time online. According to Nielsen, consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of site. In 2012, social accounted for 20% of total time online via PC, and 30% of total time online via mobile. From the blog you’re reading right now to forums, wikis, photo/video publishing, and of course, social networks – social can take many forms and is available across many mediums – virtually at consumers’ fingertips 24/7. And, since anything that facilitates the creation and sharing of content online can be considered social, marketers have a real opportunity to tap into and influence consumers and their social graphs.
The New Purchase Path
In addition to being the No. 1 place consumers are spending their precious hours, social has fundamentally changed the consumer decision process and purchase path. Today, consumers have access to an exponentially growing number of opinions, tastes, and preferences via social connections. The days of strictly controlled brand messaging are long gone and without a clearly defined purchase path, word of mouth marketing (WOMM) has become more critical than ever. WOMM is now so important, in fact, that 80% of purchase cycles (B2C and B2B) involve some form of WOM recommendation, according to Forrester.
As marketers, we know that it’s virtually impossible to duplicate the level of credibility that comes with a personal endorsement from a friend. As such, we must take steps to encourage positive sentiment amongst brand fans and encourage them to help direct friends and connections along the purchase path for us. Social offers a variety of new opportunities to tap into our existing customer base to identify social advocates and help drive qualified new sales through word of mouth advocates.
Dropbox and the Power of the Ask
What’s the quickest way to get brand advocates to spread the word? Just ask. Especially when paired with a compelling incentive, your advocates are already passionate about your brand and will readily spread the word with their networks via social channels. Tapping into your customer network is the easiest way to gain credible endorsements and jumpstart a network effect of sharing.
Take for example Dropbox, the beloved cloud storage service that has collectively saved us billions of gigs of hard drive space since 2007. According to the company’s founder, Dropbox quickly came to the realization that traditional online advertising methods were too costly and not going to scale for the company’s growth goals. In coming to this realization, it was determined that WOMM would be the best option to get the word out. Simplified, the program was as follows:
- The Ask: Invite friends to join Dropbox via email, Facebook, Twitter, or using a custom referral URL
- The Incentive: For every new friend that signs up, an advocate receives an additional 500MB of storage (up to 16GB). The new sign-up receives a free 500MB just for joining.
- The Results: The program allowed them to grow to 4MM users in just under 2 years with 35% of all sign-ups coming from referrals
Continue reading Extole’s WOMM secrets on their blog.
In the next installment, we’ll go deep on a handful of successful referral marketing programs, using a variety of tactics. In the meantime, I invite you to consider how a social WOM program could work for your brand and ask questions or share some of the tactics that your company’s already employed in the comments. Better, yet join us and WOMMA for a free webinar on March 14 where we will cover the top 5 trends in word of mouth marketing for 2013.