Back in April, the US Federal Trade Commission swatted back at a common but illegal practice in word of mouth influence.
The FTC reviewed Instagram posts by celebrities, athletes, and other influencers. Then the commission sent warnings to 90 of them that it’s considered deceptive to rave on social media about a brand without conspicuously alerting followers that they are paid to do so.
The FTC’s Endorsement Guides provide that any “material connection” between an endorser and a brand (whether financial or familial) must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
According to WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), the celebrities included music producer Sean Combs, model Naomi Campbell, and pro-NBA player Allen Iverson. The magazine reported the FTC sent letters to big brand names in fashion, beauty, and retail. Consequently, many of the posts were taken down.
Word of Mouth Influence Has Impact
There’s an obvious reason brands pay celebrities to endorse their products. Consumers follow advice from people they love, whether they know them personally or worship them from afar.
And there are clear (if questionable) reasons to obscure paid endorsements. People trust advice that comes from the heart. And they know the difference between an advertisement and a genuine recommendation.
Which is what makes word-of-mouth influence so effective. According to research from Nielsen a few years back, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.
And as celebrity social media endorsements illustrate, word of mouth influence is not just about listening to friends and family. It’s about customers reading as many good things about your product as possible.
The Best Word of Mouth Influence
Smaller and lesser known businesses need to generate word of mouth influence as much as any big brand. Maybe even more.
In the first place, it’s a lot less expensive than advertising. Secondly, word of mouth influence is a force amplifier.
To get word of mouth influence, start with your customers (after you’ve exhausted your friends and family). When you please customers with top service, a great product, packaging, you put them in a better mood to write reviews on Facebook, tweet about you, or share your brand on Instagram.
You have to take the first step. It’s pretty much a necessity these days to establish a social media presence. These platforms help you promote your brand and to build and develop a following. The more you use the platforms, the more opportunities you give your customers to promote your business.
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