Social, Spotlight

Why Word-of-Mouth Is So Important & How To Earn It

With over two thirds of the world’s population using the internet – online content is more important than ever. Especially digital word-of-mouth.  Consumers are turning to the internet for guidance when making purchase decisions. In fact:

  • 70-90% of the buyer’s journey is complete prior to engaging a vendor (Forrester)
  • Consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase (Forrester)
  • Consumers are 5x more dependent on content than they were 5 years ago. (Nielsen)

But this isn’t new information. More and more businesses are creating online content, making it tougher to stand out. That’s why we’re looking at the most trusted form of promotion, word-of-mouth, and how to add it to your marketing strategy.

Firstly, let’s look at the research. AdWeek featured a study by Olapic, on Millennial and Baby Boomer’s attitudes to content. As suspected, there are distinct differences between the two groups. Baby Boomers prefer written and video pieces, over photos, preferred by Millennials.

But the study revealed a constant belief across both Baby Boomers and Millennials. The majority of consumers trust content created by average people, more than brands.

Olapic’s “Consumer Trust Survey” worked with research specialists Censuswide to poll 1,000 U.S. residents aged 16-65 on their preferences around branded and consumer-generated social content, also known as word of mouth. AdWeek prepared this infographic to communicate the following findings from the research study. User-Generated Content: Millennials vs. Boomers. What makes a branded image authentic? Millennials: Real people featured in the image. Boomers: Focus on the product or service. A matter of trust: 47% of Millennials and 36% of Boomers trust User-Generated Content. Whereas only 25% of Millennials and 24% of Boomers trust content created by brands. Favourite social platform: 25% of Millennials are likeliest to rank Instagram as the top of their list. 90% of Boomers prefer Facebook. Why use branded hashtags? 54% of Millennials want friends and the brand to know they like the product. 50% of Boomers do not use hashtags 75% of Millennials prefer photos. 50% of Boomers prefer photos. Boomer are also likelier to prefer written content and video. Overall takeaways: People Trust images created by other consumers more than any other content type. 76% find content posted by other consumers to be more honest than brand content. 60% of respondents have used branded hashtags. 27% of shoppers are now turning to UGC over traditional commercials or ads, prior to making a purchase.
Source: AdWeek – Infographic on Olapic’s ‘Consumer Trust Survey’

Word-of-Mouth is the Most Trusted 

This may not come as a surprise, with multiple research studies coming to this same conclusion. For example, Edelman’s 2016 Trust Barometer, which comprised of over 33,000 respondents, confirmed that friends and family are the most trusted information sources. Making word-of-mouth an incredibly impactful source of content in the purchase decision process.

This trend is growing, fast. Trust in word-of-mouth and user-generated content grew by 11% from 67% in 2015, to 78% in 2016. Surpassing content created by academic experts, well-known online personalities and celebrities.

Here’s is a screen grab of Slide 46 from Edelman's 2016 Trust Barometer global research study. The title reads, ‘Every Voice Matters’ The slides shows a descending, ranked graph with the percentages of people who trust information by each author listed below, on social networking sites, content sharing sites and online-only information sources, 2015 vs. 2016. Here are the results: Author 1: Friends and family. Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 67% and 78% in 2016. Increasing by 11% in one year. Author 2: An academic expert Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 61%, growing by 4% to 65% in 2016. Author 3: Companies that I use Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 53%, growing to 62% in 2016. Author 4: Employees of a company Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 46%, to 55% in 2016. Author 5: A company CEO Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 39% to 49% in 2016. Author 6: A journalist Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 46%, dropping to 44% in 2016. Interesting to see journalists are the only authors to lose their trustworthiness in 2016. Author 7: A well-now online personality Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 40%, growing to 42% in 2016. Author 8: Elected Officials Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 34%, growing to 37% in 2016. Author 9: Celebrities Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 30% to 32% in 2016. Finally, Author 10: Companies I don’t use Percentage of people who trust this author in 2015 = 26% to 31% in 2016. Methodology: The question asked was - ‘Thinking about the information you consumer, how much do you trust information from each of the following authors of content creators?'

Source: Slide 46 of Edelman’s 2016 research results showing consumers changing levels of trust from 2015 to 2016.

What Does this Mean for Brands?

To determine whether this is good for your brand, depends on its current conversation. You can find this out by searching your brand on search engines and social media platforms. The results of this activity are likely to include both positive and negative word-of-mouth.

Here, you will find opportunities to connect with loyal customers and brand advocates. As well as win back those disappointed by your brand and identify areas that need improvement.

“Pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. Hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.” Elon Musk

See how Elon Musk took a customer complaint on Twitter, from idea to execution in 6 days.

How to Generate Word-of-Mouth?

Word-of-mouth is difficult to control. But there are strategies to help stimulate and maintain user-generated content around specific topics. For example, social loyalty programs like Popdeem invite customers to share their brand experiences. Popdeem allows brands to run social competitions, targeting tailored audience segments and measures results.

Screengrab of an Instagram post shared by an influencer called @sophiehannahrichardson in Creme Cakes and Shakes in Essex. This is an excellent example of the power of word of mouth content. The caption is: Cake & Shake time for my sisters birthday @katie_richardsonx [pink double heart emoji icon] @cremeleigh [The business that created the freak shakes and where the photo is taken] #cremeleigh #freakshake #cakeandshake #milkshake. There are 112 comments, many of which are users tagging other users admiring the photo or saying they need to go here. The Instagram image itself shows the influencer sitting at a table, wearing a black beret, black top and faux fur coat. Her hair is blue, which matches her blue lipstick and heavy winged eyeliner. On the table is what appears to be handle jar of a pink milkshake, with a slice of red velvet cake on top of whipped cream topping the milkshake. The influencer also tagged her sister and the business in the post, which gained 13,000 Likes.

Source: Instagram Photo captured by @sophiehannahrichardson in Creme Cakes and Shakes

Let’s look at a simple application of Popdeem for a restaurant. Let’s say the restaurant wants to capitalize on the ‘freakshakes’ dessert trend, so they add it to their menu. The aim of this new product is to drive revenue and attract more customers. But how can they make people aware of this new offering and increase visits/bookings? They could spend time and money creating an advertising campaign. But as the Edelman and Olapic research has shown, less people trust this kind of content. A more impactful strategy is to get your customers to promote your new product for you, through word-of-mouth.

Now, how do you get your customers to do this? With a simple reward system, using these three simple steps.

1) Run a Social Competition with Popdeem

Simply run a contest, targeting your most loyal or influential customers through Popdeem’s dashboard. Ask them to share an update on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram about your new menu. Whether it’s a photo of a new dish they liked, or something they’re looking forward to trying.

2) Reward Entrants

Each participant then receives a reward for their post, i.e. a coupon for their next visit. Or, participants enter a sweepstakes competition for a grand prize, like a $500 voucher. Both of these prizes foster customer retention and are easily distributed with Popdeem.

3) Enjoy the Results

This cost-effective strategy generates trusted word-of-mouth and increases awareness. By-products of this strategy include, reaching a broader audience without paying for advertising. As well as building relationships with customers, increasing loyalty and brand advocacy.

Interested in using Popdeem to create word-of-mouth?

With Popdeem, you can reward customers and brand advocates with coupons, loyalty points, prizes, or charity donations, when they share photos on Instagram, check-in on Facebook, or use a branded hashtag. For more information on how Popdeem works, check out this article, Heine Brothers’ Coffee Unveils Social Rewards Program on

Request a free, personalized Popdeem demo by completing the form below.

In the meantime, watch how Popdeem helped a chain of Irish restaurants and bars grow their business.

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