‘Word of Mouth’ Has Evolved to No Words at All

There was a time when ‘word of mouth’ had a very literal meaning – one human speaking to another in person. And for centuries, it’s been the preferred way to grow a business, brand, or idea.

One human speaking to another… not anymore!

Nowadays, social media has hijacked what it means to grow by “word of mouth.” This should come as no surprise, but when we unpack what this means for your brand, you might be shocked at what you find.

Social Media Has Changed Communication

In recent years, social media has become more and more about visually stimulating content and less about the written word. Emojis have replaced sentences and punctuation is seemingly optional

Examples of this shift away from written text are all around us – consider the popularity of Pinterest, or look back to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, or Twitter’s evolution to support streaming video on what was originally a text-only platform.

Why read a product review when you can watch a video?

These are big companies placing huge bets that people want to engage with photos and video, more than read text. And if you look at some of the more recent entries into the social sphere, such as TikTok, it reinforces this point even more. 

Word of Mouth Marketing

Back to ‘word of mouth’ – let’s agree that when it comes to nurturing referrals, it’s really social endorsement we’re talking about here.

The expression ‘word of mouth’ has evolved to become less about the words, and more about the action of consumers helping tell your story by sharing their experience. And when we enable them to do so in a way that’s in alignment with our brand, expedited growth is the result.

Through this evolution, the key ingredient has remained steadfast which is how storytelling is the foundation of building a strong brand. And, as always, the very best way for your story to be told is through customers who have had positive experiences – ideally with a healthy dose of surprise and delight. In fact, a consistent flow of positive content shared voluntarily by your customers (or fans of your brand) is the holy grail of social endorsement.

So, put this all together and what does it mean? 

The brands that are going to win at growing through “word of mouth” are the ones who enable their customers/followers/users/evangelists to tell their stories using engaging visual content.

People want to show off where they have been, what they have eaten, and what they are doing.

So instead of obsessing over what customers will SAY about their experience with your brand, shift your focus to how they will SHOW the world that experience in a visual way.

Become a Share-worthy Business

If you welcome customers into your place of business then, more than ever before, the design of your environment plays a critical role in the success of your marketing. You must be intentional about creating ‘share-worthy’ moments along the way. Beautiful spaces, photo opportunities, and giving people the time to take a second without rushing them through your business will encourage them to share. When done right, your brand benefits from being shared (endorsed) by customers on a daily basis.

Think about the last time you booked an Airbnb or VRBO – what did you do first, read the reviews or scan the photos?  (My bet is photos first.) Or, have you ever considered purchasing a piece for furniture or home decor online and explored the customer photos, so you could see how the item looks in a real-life setting? There’s no doubt, as humans we are wired to give preference to visual content to gain the insights we’re seeking.

Whether you operate a healthcare facility, hospitality venue, or a tourism destination, it’s critical to offer your customers a variety of visually interesting moments that capture their experience and are primed for sharing on social media – either as photos or video. 

When you’ve done it just right, the photo will showcase how the experience made them feel – no caption needed. That’s the real power of visual content and why social endorsement remains the most powerful way to influence business results.

Ready to make your business THE stand-out choice for families? Get in touch to learn more about how our design solutions will make a huge difference for your brand through evolved word-of-mouth marketing.

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