We have seen a huge increase in the number of tweets, likes, and reposts taking place every second across the globe. Yet, as much as social media shares may lead to brand awareness and promotion, it does not necessarily result in a spike in sales –which is not the case with the word-of-mouth phenomenon.
In both B2B and B2C sectors, a fair part of revenues is a result of partnerships between companies or influencers that know each other in person or through a third mediating party. As a result, harnessing both communication channels are critical for every enterprise or brand.
But what we have in reality is that some young entrepreneurs rely on either of these ways in the hope to build strong brand loyalty and boost sales, rather than combining them or applying concurrently.
To avoid common marketing mistakes, let’s delve into the reasons why social media cannot be equated with the word-of-mouth practice and look at the strengths of each approach.
Offline connections matter
Social media offer vast opportunities to everyone searching for new business deals and successful collaborations. However, despite the simplicity of setting new connections, the online world does not give credibility to the things and people we meet online. We tend to be less demanding and strict online, thus allowing unknown users to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
By contrast, we prefer being vigilant and careful with people that interact with us in reality. This online vs real-life difference in human attitude and decision-making explains why offline connections turn out to be fewer in number but higher in the value we get.
Business relationships are established in the same manner: recommendations from fellow workers, ex-colleges, managers, and coaches are always put first, and even if new partnerships are initiated online, parties strive to get to know each other first in real life before signing a contract.
World-of-mouth is more persuasive
Social media will never replace word-of-mouth because they lack non-verbal interaction and do not provide a favorable environment for examining a new person. Although videoconferencing tools are now growing in use, they are still viewed as a temporary substitute for real-life conversation.
A face-to-face meeting does not let its participants get distracted or go offline out of a sudden. On the contrary, it keeps people interested in each other and leads to faster and more effective problem solving and teamwork. Some offline retail stores are still competitive and invulnerable to digital disruption as they hire personal assistants or even in-store human-like robots that assist visitors in making their buyer’s choice.
74% of US buyers report that they are willing to purchase one or another item or service recommended by their relatives or friends, and 92% of consumers trust their friend’s advice.
Now let’s explore the advantages of social media for businesses that cannot be delivered by word-of-mouth.
Powerful communication channel
It is hard to think of another more effective social networking tool than social media reaching out to millions of people in just a second. Today’s global social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, each numbering over 1 billion users are considered the best strategy to establish brand visibility online.
Paid marketing campaigns guided by relevant influencers can help to distribute news and information among potential customers at the speed of light. This is why newly made startups can quickly catch up with long-standing business players in a couple of years.
The use of social media is particularly beneficial to small-sized enterprises that need a strong boost to build a loyal customer base and gain their foothold in the market. Here, it is best to rely on social media management and marketing tools. For example, the trend for social media software development for small business has been steadily growing in recent years and we can expect a further reinforcement of social media usage for business needs.
Social media platforms let you become visible in the digital space of your target audience. Relying on word-of-mouth only is not a sensible approach to business growth as an average consumer runs into up to 20,000 brands every day.
This level of competition is too high for every company that puts efforts only in word-of-mouth and avoid investing too much into social media marketing. Statistics show that every other shopper is ready to buy goods if their brand is present on social media.
Indeed, most users tend to make their mind, browsing Facebook pages or reading the recommendations from the influencers they follow. One way or another, social media are a must for achieving quantitative results, such as ad campaigns, news-sharing, or product promotion.
How to leverage social media networking & word-of-mouth
First off, it is highly recommended to put them together. They are not mutually exclusive and can perfectly coexist in your marketing strategy. Second, you should set the right priorities depending on your market’s position and business goals. If you are a new company, you should invest in social media optimization above all based on which you will be able later to launch effective marketing campaigns.
If you are not a green player, make sure your ads, emails, and posts are visible to the right people or companies. Here, what matters most is good matching because social media networking often creates a favorable ground for word-of-mouth. So, think carefully and remember that one successful deal can give you a dozen more in the future.
**About the author: Betty Lockwood is a web developer, blogger, fintech expert and caring mother of two kids. She loves to write about new technologies, business news, traveling, and music events. Betty is also an editor-in-chief at Computools. Follow Betty on Twitter.