Since the dawn of civilization, word-of-mouth, aka storytelling, has been the way history and lore has been passed on through the generations. In these modern times, our modes of communication have been amplified through the use of technology. If we want to spread the word, we can pick up the phone, post to our social media networks, or upload a blog to our websites. Although the ways we communicate may have changed, the power of word-of-mouth is timeless.
What Is Word of Mouth Marketing
Traditionally, word-of-mouth marketing was simply recommendations of a business or service from one person to another. Parents to children, friend to friend, acquittance to acquittance, or even neighbor to neighbor. These types of recommendations carry the most weight because they come from a person that the individual trusts.
Old school word-of-mouth marketing still holds a huge impact on a person’s buying decisions, but today, thanks to the use of the internet and connected technology, businesses have some control over how word-of-mouth recommendations are shared. They can encourage their customers to share their stories and experiences with the business through targeted campaigns or collect them organically on their social media profiles or business review pages.
The Impact of Word of Mouth Marketing
Here’s the breakdown of the impact that word-of-mouth has by the numbers: According to Nielsen’s latest Global Online Consumer Survey on Trust, Value and Engagement in Advertising, the most trusted advertising channel is word-of-mouth by a large margin. The survey found that consumers completely trust or somewhat trust recommendations from people they know at a rate of 90%. The next most trusted channel is advertising messaging from brand websites, which show an overall trust score of about 70%.
This study shows, that by and large, word-of-mouth is an advertising and marketing channel that should not be overlooked. Leveraging word-of-mouth as a marketing channel has been the goal of many businesses, but getting organic participation from customers has been somewhat elusive. People want to share authentic stories, especially to the ones they love and trust, and if they are commissioned to do so as part of a marketing campaign, they might not give the most genuine recommendation.
The Virality of Kindness
Many are familiar with the internet idiom “going viral.” To go viral means an idea or piece of content resonates so strongly with a wide range of people, that it spreads across the internet at an epidemic rate. Going viral is a form of word-of-mouth marketing, but turned up to the highest volume. Most of the time, when something goes viral it is by chance, but there are examples of businesses that have executed successful viral marketing campaigns.
For instance, Burger King ran an anti-bullying campaign in the UK that started a national conversation on preventing bullying. And then there was the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that helped raise $115 million worldwide for the ALS Association, a nonprofit to benefit amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research, thanks to the spread of the campaign through social media.
Sometimes viral content is silly and irreverent, but the type of viral content that resonates with most people are stories that are inspiring and make us feel hopeful. They leave people feeling good about themselves, about the community, and the goodness that exists in others.
Much like the news stories we read about during the holiday season, businesses can leverage community impact initiatives as types of viral word-of-mouth marketing campaigns to spread awareness of the causes they wish to benefit, all while increasing their brand reputation and trust. Being kind is the best way to make a lasting impression. When a business rallies around a cause and makes a difference in peoples’ lives—aside from providing valuable products and services—people are inspired to choose the business that has the greatest community impact.
How seedership Can Help You Spread the Word
Our passion at seedership is to inspire businesses to help the community grow along with their business. We set out to make it easy, transparent and engaging for businesses to tell their community story; so they can differentiate and grow based on the good they do. Customers want to support businesses that are helping the community and our platform helps keep the good you do stay top-of-mind and visible. Because when you share your kindness, it will inspire others to be kind as well.
Want to start spreading the word? Try seedership for 30 days and start planting the seeds of kindness.