The New Frontier of Word-of-Mouth Marketing is Visual
The smartest marketers use consumer channels to drive brand conversations and sell products. Social media offers WOMM a platform for unprecedented reach, where a single consumer's recommendation can be broadcast to thousands. Brands like Yelp exist on the very idea of peer recommendations and the amplification powers of digital.
Visual content takes WOMM one step further. Photos and videos have proven to be one of the most effective ways to communicate with friends and family. Instagram has over 300 million users and Snapchat has over 100 million monthly users. Social channels are consistently modifying their platforms' algorithms to highlight visual content. The trend is so pervasive that visual content receives up to 94 percent more engagement than text.
Unlike written forms of advertising, photos and videos allow marketers to tell stories that are both personal and sharable. When visual shared content is timed with a live event, the blend of WOMM's trust and social media's reach has proven highly successful. Marketers can greatly increase their consumer reach with minimal effort or spend.
Brands sponsoring events can use company-branded photos and instant consumer sharing to increase the reach of their event by up to 10 times. For example, in 2014, branded content and instant streaming helped Pandora earn 1.2 million impressions from just 85 photos taken at an awards show after-party in Los Angeles. And in 2015, Subaru reached over 400,000 impressions with fewer than 2,000 photos at the Philadelphia Auto Show. Just like Pandora and Subaru, any brand can engage thousands of prospects in a word-of-mouth way with just a few sharable images.
As technology continues to grow, the ability to leverage digital in combination with word-of-mouth will become more important. As Gladwell concludes, "understanding [the] principles of word-of-mouth is more important than ever." While many marketers feel they don't yet understand WOMM and branded visual content, partnering with social marketing platforms is a good first step.