Influencers and the Power of Word-of-Mouth

Influencers and Word of MouthIt’s long been known that word-of-mouth is an extremely powerful advertising method. Having customers who like your products or services enough to promote and recommend them to friends is the kind of advertising you just can’t buy.

The web and social media haven’t changed that. Actually they’ve made WOM even more powerful because now brand advocates have much more reach via such social tools as Twitter and Facebook. Social channels such as these mean WOM is no longer limited to smaller circles of friends – now the world can hear people rave or rant about you.

The studies I’ve read consistently state that a very small percentage (as small as 1%) of those using social media are actually doing the sharing and generating the content the vast majority consume. If you need to be reminded of this just take a look at the traffic of one of your blog posts and compare the traffic to the actual number of tweets or “likes” about the post. The post may get a real bump in traffic if the right people tweet and share it, but there will always be more consumers of your content than there are those who share it.

Obviously it’s important to identify, connect and leverage these influencers, but how? The right tools and some time and effort will help you track down who’s saying what and how often. Something as simple as doing a search via will show you who’s mentioning your brand and products – there are tools as well which can help with that. You might look at Radian6 or SocialMention to see who’s talking about you and how much reach they have. At the very least, use TweetDeck or HootSuite and set up some filters to track when someone mentions you. It’s just not that hard to track the conversations via social media because there are always footprints in the snow.

Once you’ve found out who’s talking about you the most, start up a conversation with them. The first thing you might want to say is, oh I don’t know…how about, thank you? Showing some appreciation is always a good place to start when connecting for the first time. Just make sure you don’t give the person the impression you are trying to buy them as a shill. My personal advice would be to focus more on how appreciative you are and sincerely demonstrating that you want to show the person how grateful you are by offering them some recognition and perks.

Why not form an elite influencer club and invite people who meet the criteria to join? Offer them everything from badges for their FB page to exclusive first rights to blog about something new on their site or even special promotional partnerships. If the influencer has a popular Facebook page or blog, there are tons of possibilities. One way you can think about these influencers might be as you would a powerful media partner – show them the same love.

Generating word-of-mouth advertising effectively takes effort and time. It means someone on your staff has to find the influencers then nurture and encourage them. At times it’s akin to herding cats, but trust me, it’s worth the effort!

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this as well! Please leave a comment!

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