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  • 24 July 2014
  • Eric Michaels

Word of mouth: Five ways to encourage powerful recommendations

These days, Facebook posts, tweets, comments on blogs, and other forms of online chatter qualify as word of mouth recommendations. This type of attention is a chief driver of business for brands of all kinds. Since people are already discussing your business, one of your marketing objectives should be to reach these savvy Internet users and connect with them to turn the conversation in the right direction.

Here are five ways to encourage positive feedback online:

Word of mouth: Five ways to encourage powerful recommendations

1. Tell your business' story on your website.
Twitter and other social sites may be all the rage on mobile devices, but people go to your company website on tablets and laptops to learn the basics about your business in long form. Have you described your company's creation story and its past, present, and future goals? If you have yet to do so, you are ignoring the most fundamental point of discovery for consumers. Lay down the details in a personal way so they know there is a beating heart behind the brand. Once you have worked out the nuts and bolts of your business site, you can create a blog with engaging material. Tell people what you do so they can tell others and get it right.

2. Become social-media savvy.

Whether you are an old-school handicrafter or modern techie, your customers are searching for you on social media and talking about you — for better or worse. Getting involved in the conversation shows that you care about their opinion and that you're listening. This step is crucial to get more word-of-mouth recommendations. Fans of your company do not need compensation for promoting your business, but they certainly enjoy acknowledgment and a response directly from the company. Although this engagement may take place on a number of social platforms, you should begin with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

3. Engage this generation of influencers.

Beyond the fans and customers of your company, the social influencers of the industry hold the key to many word-of-mouth recommendations. These brand advocates may be bloggers, reviewers or other types of leaders in the community. You will be able to get their attention by offering them something special. It may be breaking news on your business, the chance to review something exclusively or the opportunity to interview you with no strings attached. Engaging the top influencers online is going to spark conversation. Much of it will be positive.

4. Get people thinking critically about your brand.

When you launch a quality product or service, there is no reason to hide from the judgments of your consumers. Get people thinking critically and responding to your business with customer satisfaction surveys. This technique forces people to differentiate your offerings from the competition, which is exactly what you want. Surveys allow you to see what your company is doing right and wrong in the eyes of your consumers. In addition, surveys plant ideas in customers' heads that they often flesh out later through social media. Along the way, you are bound to get more recommendations for your business via word of mouth.

5. Reward word-of-mouth recommendations to create more of the same.

Everyone likes recognition for their effort on behalf of a team, and social media users who go out of their way to recommend your company online deserve such a plug. In some cases, it may worth your while to reward them with discounts or special access for their enthusiasm. Dangling concrete rewards may smack of a departure from authenticity (i.e., buying approval), yet the truth is that you are simply being nice to someone who has helped your business. This treatment tends to encourage even more positive online chatter. Making a small investment in your biggest fans is always worth it.

Social media allows people to recommend your business wherever they happen to be. Take the time to keep these word-of-mouth recommendations flowing. If you need help, try the Vionic social media deals platform or Constant Contact social marketing services now available from The UPS Store.

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