One of the oldest adages in marketing is that word of mouth is the most effective way of communicating with your customers. Everyone can recall asking a good friend or a family member for a recommendation on a product or service they’re thinking of buying: a car; a washing machine; a holiday; a pair of shoes; someone to do your tax. A study by Nielsen earlier this decade found 92 per cent of people believed in word-of-mouth recommendations above all other forms of advertising.
Marketers have long tried to find ways to have these advocates tell more of their friends about their brand. Social media offered a new weapon to do this. Suddenly there were brand advocates on social media with thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of consumers following them. And the consumers had chosen to follow them because they liked the images and comments they were posting. They were interested in what they had to say and almost two-thirds of them believed what they were saying about brands.