One of the most influential forms of communication is word-of-mouth: The act of consumers providing information or advice to other consumers. Opinion leaders are the trendsetters. They are the initial users of a product or consumers of information. Opinion seekers are the individuals that are influenced by opinion leaders. In the past, word-of-mouth was limited to face-to-face interactions and phone conversations. Now, of course, word-of-mouth communication posesses limitless capabilities via social media.

Here are three ways that you can utilize word-of-mouth communication via social media to help your business:

  1. Create a contest for social media followers

Surprisingly, a small budget can generate great social influence. Contest prizes can include gift cards, a gift box filled with a company’s product, or a pair of tickets to an event. A prize that is directly associated with the company and its brand can maximize marketing and PR potential because it leads to even more word-of-mouth communication about the company.

For instance, when Sephora gives away a gift box filled with their beauty products on Facebook, the prize winner (opinion leader) would likely recommend those products to her followers and friends (opinion seekers). Product sales might see an increase due to opinion seekers purchasing the products. Or if a band gave away two tickets to a concert on their Twitter page…that would likely lead the prize winners to tell their social network about the band. Also, the winners would most likely post photos and videos from the event to their social media feeds, generating an increase in social awareness.

  1. Generate a hashtag for your next event and encourage attendees to post their photos

People have the ability to control their reputations by strategically telling others about certain products they use or events they attend. While a physician may attend a healthcare conference to learn, that physician is also attending to cultivate a knowledgeable, trustworthy, and professional image. It is a natural desire to influence how others perceive you. You can take advantage of this by providing attendees with an opportunity to manage their public image. Their social media postings will also help build awareness for the organization hosting the event.

  1. Organize a consistent posting schedule

A social media page should contain enough postings to enhance follower awareness, but the key is to not invade a follower’s newsfeed too much. For example, too many emails from a clothing store causes individuals to stop opening the messages as the flood of emails pile up in their inbox. Ultimately, the individual gets so annoyed that they press the tiny unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email. The same effect occurs with postings on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

While a company or non-profit should post about their organization, they should also craft posts for followers that are fun or interesting. This requires knowledge of follower interests and demographics. For example, a financial firm’s page would share posts directly advertising their services or showcasing their impressive employees. However, to maintain followers, a financial firm should also post free financial tips, or links to helpful articles about personal finance to keep followers engaged and interested. It’s not just about sharing news about yourself, it’s about providing value as well.

How has word-of-mouth benefitted your business? Let us know in the comments!