Want to increase your business’s exposure on social media feeds? Curious how word of mouth can help you overcome algorithm changes?
To explore how talk triggers encourage customers to evangelize your business,
Why Is Word of Mouth Important?
To start, Jay defines what “word of mouth” means to marketers. It’s when a customer tells somebody else about a particular business. This conversation could be face to face or online via email, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat, or any number of other media. Also, the conversation could be one to one or via a review site like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Angie’s List.
As Jay and co-author Daniel Lemin did research for the book, they found that 83% of Americans have engaged in word-of-mouth recommendations in the past 30 days. Sometimes you don’t notice you’re giving a recommendation. At a recent party, Jay listened to the conversations for 3-4 minutes and heard at least 8 recommendations for movies, books, software, and conference speakers.
Most research Jay and other engagement labs have done focus on online word of mouth, which is anonymous or semi-anonymous. A Yelp reviewer doesn’t know who’ll see their review. When you tweet, you know only that you’re speaking to your followers in the aggregate. However, the newest research finds that online word of mouth accounts for only half of all recommendations
The other half of all recommendations are offline and happen in face-to-face conversations or over the phone, so these recommendations are just as important as online ones. Also, in business, neither type of word of mouth is studied as much as it should be. Depending on your business and product, word-of-mouth recommendations influenced 20%-90% of every dollar that you have.
After outlining how important word-of-mouth recommendations are to every business, Jay notes that businesses typically don’t have a word-of-mouth strategy. Whereas businesses have an overall digital strategy and strategies for social media, public relations, and content, they approach to word of mouth by assuming their customers will talk about them. But maybe customers won’t.
Jay draws a distinction between a word-of-mouth strategy and a viral post. Businesses welcome virality because it provides disproportionate reach, and they’ll try to produce posts they hope will go viral with a surprise-and-delight tactic. That is, the business treats a particular customer in a remarkable way, hoping the customer shares their experience on social and it goes viral.
Aiming for a viral post isn’t a strategy; it’s a stunt. It’s like buying a lottery ticket. Although delighting a customer in this way isn’t a bad idea, this approach isn’t a strategy because it’s not repeatable. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a viral post, you can’t grow your business with viral social media posts over and over.
To grow your business with an approach that’s scalable, you need to think about how you can encourage word-of-mouth conversations every day. You need to do something different in your company so that customers notice and tell their friends, who tell their friends. When businesses are doing this, they often aren’t doing it intentionally. The approach tends to be accidental.
Listen to the show to hear Jay discuss how Social Media Examiner has grown through word of mouth.
Why Social Marketers Need Talk Triggers
A talk trigger is something that you choose to do differently in your business, and that customers notice and talk about. It’s an operational choice that impacts every customer. You might give away a conversation-worthy item to every customer, or add something special to your ordering process or customer experience that customers want to talk about.
With a talk trigger, you can solve a common problem facing social marketers: You know how to do social media but don’t have anything to say. Nobody really cares about the features and benefits of your company. However, if you do something different to create a talk trigger, you can create interesting and social content about it. You can use social media to amplify your core differentiator.
In an age where everyone is pumping out content on social media, talk triggers can prompt your customers to talk about your company, your product, or their experience in a positive way. This talk trigger prompts your customers to promote your business. On social media, this word of mouth creates a ripple effect through their networks of followers or connections.
Customer word of mouth is especially important on social media because content created by your customers is more trustworthy and persuasive than content the business creates and shares. Also, in the U.S., the social platforms most people use algorithmically give less exposure to company posts and more exposure to posts from real people, especially when those posts have a lot of engagement.
Four Elements of a Successful Talk Trigger
Although many books about word of mouth have been published over the past 20 years, Jay says those books don’t offer a specific plan for how to implement a word-of-mouth strategy. Jay and Daniel tried to create a book with a specific framework that any business can put into practice, based on conversations and working relationships with thousands of people, mostly small businesses.
To explain how to develop talk triggers, the book shares four things your differentiator must contain in order to work. Jay and Daniel also outline five different types of talk triggers and a six-step process for figuring out how to implement a talk trigger in your business. After outlining how the four elements work in the context of the book, Jay explains each one in more detail.
Remarkable: Your talk trigger has to be remarkable because you want people to talk about it. The reason is in the definition of the word: worthy of remark. People don’t say, “Hey, let me tell you about this perfectly adequate experience I just had.” When your business has a remarkable talk trigger, you help people tell an interesting story, whether that’s face to face or on social media.
Repeatable: This characteristic goes back to Jay’s earlier point about the difference between a post that goes viral and talks triggers. A talk trigger has to be available to everybody. Everybody gets a knife, a chocolate chip cookie, or a chance to play the Joker game. A talk trigger isn’t a theme night, only for best customers, or a birthday special. It’s for everybody.
Reasonable: To break through the clutter, marketers often try to do something big and bold, like the prize for a hashtag contest is an island. In this race for bigger and better prizes, the hope is that people pay more attention to your business. Although you get that attention, it’s fleeting. After you give away an island, what are you going to do next?
Also, these big gifts create suspicion. The conversation a bold giveaway creates isn’t about what makes your business stand out; it’s about your terms and conditions. People want to know what the catch is.
A talk trigger needs to be different enough that people want to talk about it, but not so big that it’s suspicious.
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