This is most likely not your first time hearing about word of mouth. The truth is word of mouth is so inherent in all of us. The grapevine came to be because of how powerful word of mouth is. The interesting phenomenon though is that bad news travels faster than good news. This is evident when you analyse what usually trends online. All the same, word of mouth is such a powerful tool in business or entrepreneurship. You can consciously and deliberately generate to optimize your operations. Here is how you can generate online word of mouth.

Provide Unforgettable Customer Experiences

The best way to get word of mouth going around is to provide unforgettable customer experiences. One element of that is selling products or services that consummately address people’s pain points. How cordial and swift you are or your staff in engaging prospects and existing customers matters as well. How structured is your business? Do you have well-laid-out SOPs that govern all that you do? How efficient is your handling of customer queries? Your branding, is it attractive enough to build a positive perception in people’s minds? Are your prices reasonable and justifiable? Do you have exciting specials or offers that customers get to enjoy from time to time?

These are just some of the questions to ponder that have a bearing on customer experiences. A satisfied customer is arguably the most important marketing tool you must have. The best way to recruit such is to simply give them the best customer experience. They will, without being told, start everyone they can about how great your brand is. That is how powerful positive customer experiences can be for your business. Always muse on what more you can do to ensure your customers are always happy.

Solicit And Share Positive Customer Reviews

Once you have a substantial customer base, it is time to think of reviews. You can single out some of your customers you know are loyal. Then kindly request them to give testimonials or drop reviews on Google. These are reviews you can then include on your platforms e.g. your website or social media pages. Such reviews are pivotal in generating a positive brand image and spreading the word. These days the majority of people make purchase decisions based on social proof. They need to see what others are saying about what you are selling.

That way they can get a more trustworthy picture because they would have used the products or services. That is why soliciting, and building social proof for your business is a must-have business strategy. Someone can be asked about your brand and they will refer to those reviews. That will start a perpetual web of people talking positively about your brand. Get into the habit of regularly sharing on your digital platforms the positive things said about your brand. I am sure you can see how this connects to customer experiences. You cannot magically get positive reviews if you are not providing good customer experiences. It is all connected!

Take Advantage Of Influencer Marketing

The other smart way to generate word of mouth is by using influencers. In Zimbabwe this is quite common; it is a growing trend. Almost all socialites who do comedy skits are influencers. Brands pay them to subtly advertise their products or services. Depending on how engaging and creative the influencer is, your brand can be known by a score of people effortlessly.

I have noticed that packaging influencer marketing as giveaways is quite effective. The framework and rationale are quite smart. An influencer can have say, 300 000 followers on Facebook. You cannot randomly engage those people in a bid to sell to them. You approach the influencer who has the power to engage and get their followers to do something. Just like that, you can get thousands of people talking about your brand.

You are not only confined to just popular socialites per se. You can identify anyone on social media with a significant following with your proposal. For instance, someone can be on Twitter with say, 25 000 followers. They might not necessarily be nationally known but their following can be key to your targeting.

Strategically Use Hashtags

I recently did an article on the importance of hashtags and how to use them for your business. This is yet another effective way to generate word of mouth online. I cited the example of Lulu Tissues; another good example is Yanaya. They have managed to establish a community around their brands via hashtags, amongst other things. Hopefully, more and more businesses in Zimbabwe will appreciate hashtags more. They are still largely a mystery to many and thus they are still sleeping on them. Not only do hashtags generate online word of mouth, but they also make it easy for you to track what and where your brand mentions online.

The beautiful thing about online word of mouth is that it is super-fast. If you can make something go viral, in less than 24 hours it would have reached thousands of people. Moreover, online word of mouth spills over to offline word of mouth. One person who got the gist of something online can be ground zero for that information spreading offline. Thirdly, online word of mouth is usually cheaper to generate. As a business or startup, you must work it into your strategy so that your brand is always being talked about, positively though.