National Clothesline
The new day of word-of-mouth
Is social media the new word-of-mouth advertising? Most cleaners realize the importance word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing has on their business. And most would agree that it’s one of the most effective forms of marketing available to small business owners. But is today’s social media really the new word-of-mouth marketing?
What is WOM? Word-of-mouth marketing is unpaid marketing done by communicating or sharing of information from one person to another. Traditionally, WOM has been spread offline by neighbors talking or calling a friend and discussing something that was seen on TV or in a magazine. Over the years, studies and surveys have shown people trust WOM referrals from friends over paid advertising.
WOM rules have changed. Today’s social media have changed the rules of the traditional marketing game by taking the messages out of the hands of the advertisers and putting it into the hands of the consumers. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social bookmarking sites, it’s now easier than ever for consumers to spread word-of-mouth by using their keyboards as well as personal interactions.
Is social media the new WOM? Social media has to be considered at least a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Has it replaced traditional WOM marketing? No. For now, word-of-mouth is still bigger than social media. In fact, a recent survey by the Keller Fay Group, a word-of-mouth agency, claims that 91 percent of respondents’ information about brands came as a result of offline phone or face-to-face conversations. Their results contend that only seven percent of word-of-mouth conversations about brands happen online.
Where does the conversation begin? What the survey doesn’t mention is how many of those conversations were the result of content seen online. Especially since Nielsen reported that Americans spent 81 billion minutes interacting with social networks and blogs in 2011 and Experian found 91 percent of today’s adults claim to use social media regularly. After all, who hasn’t started a conversation with a friend or neighbor about something they saw online? Yes, offline word-of-mouth is still bigger than online word-of-mouth, but it’s clear that by the sheer numbers and time involved that online will continue to gain ground rapidly.
Social media amplifies WOM. Friends and neighbors will probably always talk offline about that new restaurant down the street or what company they used to paint their house. The difference is, with social media, they’re also able to spread word-of-mouth faster and with a far greater reach than offline ever could. Social media allows word-of-mouth to be amplified and seen by far more people and in far more places. Plus it allows others to view the conversation days, months and even years after it took place. Try all that with traditional word-of-mouth marketing.
The new WOM social media is definitely a powerful, modern form of word-of-mouth, but it will never completely replace traditional word-of-mouth. The fundamental sharing of information of WOM is still the same with social media, but the tools available allow it to spread faster and farther than traditional WOM ever could. That is why it is more important than ever to make sure your business is involved in both offline and online forms of word-of-mouth marketing.
Getting your customers connected. Giving incentives to your customers to “Like” your Facebook page is the first step to get them “connected” to your online presence. Don’t leave the online presence to your counter staff. Produce an in-house marketing campaign with posters, counter mats and handouts for your customers. Give them a discount or a free gift for taking the time to be a part of your online presence. Over time, this will add to your already solid loyal customer base and ultimately your bottom line.
Having an effective in-house promotion is the fastest and easiest way to get your online numbers up with very little additional work on your part.
If you need help putting together a Facebook or Twitter in-house promotion, give me a call. We have pre-set kits that can be ready in just a few days!

Neil Schroeder has been in the marketing industry for the past 15 years. He is president and creative director of the Golomb Group, developing direct response, social media, in-house promotions and web site campaigns for drycleaners throughout the nation. He can be reached by phone at (800) 833-0560, by email at neils@golombgroup.com or on the web at www.golombgroup.com.