Word of Mouth: The New Media Relations
For a long time, brands focused on getting our story told in traditional media.
Now that everyone has direct access to media, brands have far more opportunity to get their stories told. You aren’t limited to reaching out to the journalists and reporters; you can go straight to your loyal customers to do the work for you.
It’s the new media relations.
Your loyal customers are checking into locations online, they are reviewing you, and RSVPing to your events.
They are ranting and raving about you to their own networks, and many of them might have more influence than, say, an article in The New York Times, or that long coveted feature in Condé Nast Traveler.
Need some stats to back that up? According to Search Engine Watch, 62 percent of online shoppers read comments and opinions from friends on Facebook before making a purchase.
Seventy percent of online shoppers check reviews and social networks before making a purchase. (Source: Sociable Labs Social Impact Consumer Study) and 86 percent of millennials trust user-generated content over brand content.
Let’s get your customers telling your story, shall we?
Make Them Want to Talk About You
First thing’s first: You have to provide a customer experience that will impress and make people want to talk about you. Your customers don’t need to win prizes or get discounts to share their experience. If they love or hate you, they will talk about you. If they are indifferent, they won’t. Look within and make sure you are making them love you.
Make Sharing Easy
Skiers/snowboarders receive a unique user ID on their lift ticket or season pass. They then log in on their smartphone (They have plenty of time to do so on the gondola ride up to the first run.) where they can connect to their social profiles and share their activities like number of runs skied, and vertical feet ridden.
Professional photographers are positioned throughout the mountain to take portraits at beautiful view points. They scan your lift ticket and the photos are immediately made available to share online with a click of the Facebook icon.
You can apply these principles in a variety of ways.
A hashtag is a word or phrase or brand name preceded by the #. Communicate your brand hashtag to your audience and it allows you to track all the photos that were taken related to your business on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. That photo or comment goes out to their own networks, to you, and to anyone curious about your business that looks up the tag. That’s a triple whammy.
Hilah Cooking asks viewers of her cooking podcast to share photos of their creations using her recipes via the #hilahcooking hashtag on Instagram. Using SnapWidget, viewers’ photos are imported into this photo gallery and take a look: They tell a hugely powerful story.
Other ideas for photos:
- If you have an event, or a speaking engagement, take photos of the crowd and post to Facebook. Ask your fans to tag themselves. You just expanded awareness to all their networks.
- Can’t have your own photographers stationed throughout your location like Vail does? No problem. Create photo opportunities and let customers take their own photos. Remind or suggest to share.
- Ask for photos of your product in use, or in various locations. For example, if you’re a winery, you might ask for a photo of the table with your wine and people enjoying it. If you sell photocopiers, you might ask people to show the machine in use for a creative project.
- Re-use these images and highlight the members of your community. People love to be recognized.
Generate More User Reviews
The more reviews you have, the higher up you float in online search results.
Kindly ask and remind your customers to review you in a number of ways:
- Where do you want reviews? Choose the best spot – it might be Google, Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor.
- Ask for reviews via email with a link to the page.
- If you rely heavily on location traffic, consider having a point of sale reminder or sticker on your door on their way out asking them to review you. They still have to do the work to find you, but assuming you completed step #1 and wowed them, they’ll go that extra effort.
See what we did here? Everyone loves a story in a major magazine or news site, but nothing beats the influence your loyal customers have over their own friends and families. Are you helping them tell your story?
Image: The Art Institutes (Creative Commons)
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