Word-of-mouth marketing has reinvented itself over the past two years
Two years ago I first visited the word-of-mouth summit. Back then, I was fully mentally prepared to think up the full story of "The Conversation Manager". The conference was then mainly about the Net Promoter Score and the use of Twitter in social media.
After three days at the summit, I realize how quickly the world has changed. These days, businesses treat word-of-mouth marketing completely differently than then.
Here are seven things that struck me in recent days:
1. Brands are looking for influencers
The central theme of this conference was clearly working with influential people and brands. Companies understand that they have less impact through traditional means, so they are looking for new forms of mass media. Today, these are the Twitter users with thousands or even millions of followers. In this way, the amount of people you can reach is vastly increased via a more reliable source. During the summit, many different cases were presented where influencers took centre stage. The challenge here is maintaining relationships with influential customers (and not only digital celebrities). The conference clearly showed the limitations of these digital gods. They are after all less credible than a “real” customer of a company. Turning your customers into ambassadors also takes more time and resources than simply making opportunistic (mis)use of the big names.
2. Brands position clients
The nice thing about this way of working is that you have the opportunity to place your consumers more in the picture. As I wrote in my book, today it is an art to use your brand to position your customer. And not vice versa! Place your customers in the spotlight in a way that is fun and relevant to them, and they will thank you. Gratitude often results in sales. Incidentally, all cases that were presented here were backed up by some very convincing numbers demonstrating their ROI.
3. Brands still forget their employees
Unfortunately, today’s brands all too often forget their most important ambassadors: their own employees. Your biggest fans should be on your payroll. Making use of them will ensure a good ROI. Please do not forget them.
4. Private media is increasing in importance
Brands focus increasingly on their own media. Reinventing their website, creating their own customer communities, etc., is becoming increasingly important. Seems logical. Two years ago, the focus was on the social networks themselves. Today the focus is on developing a good story, having influential customers enhance this story (often through social media) and being able to leverage things from within your own private media.
5. Location-based growth rockets
Brands are increasingly making use of location-based services. Offering customers added value if they make their presence known will become increasingly common practice. I notice especially that brands and companies in the US are really much farther in this area than we are in Europe. There the moment I entered a restaurant I was immediately given a discount of $ 5 as a reward. This gives you an instant good feeling as a customer.
6. From critical incident management to proactive strategies
Most brands that are now far with conversation management owe that to a critical incident. External pressures placed this topic high on the agenda of the management. This also shows you that it is possible and that businesses also have the resources for it. Everything is just allocated differently. During the summit, I felt that more and more companies have learned from these experiences of others. This led them to start thinking proactively about how word-of-mouth can further help them and what the role of social media should be in this. A positive development!
7. Need for Conversation Manager (Centre of Excellence)
Organisations are silos. In times of social media it has become impossible to make customers happy in this structure. The problem is not solved by simply building another silo to house social media. No, more than ever, there is a need for a conversation manager who coordinates and facilitates business across all the departments. Someone who helps the departments to better understand customers and to ensure that word-of-mouth is implemented in all departments.
It’s a different world now. The WOM world has grown up. The good thing is that cases are no longer about social media, but about word-of-mouth. Good times await us: as consultants in this field, as brands that are getting closer to their customers and as costumers; we are entering into a better world. I eagerly anticipate the future.