A constant flow of referrals, recommendations and word-of-mouth activity is a situation of ‘nirvana’ for any venue owner or manager.
Fundamentally speaking, word-of-mouth marketing is the simple act of people talking about your venue (in a positive sense) when they are away from your establishment. When word-of-mouth marketing is occurring, your customers are selling your venue for you. It is the cheapest form of marketing you’ll find.
Word-of-mouth marketing is difficult to synthesize – your venue must perform exceedingly well for customers to naturally speak great things about your venue. Social media is an excellent ‘launch-pad’ for your word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
Use social media to monitor the word-of-mouth marketing surrounding your venue. Use it to see what people are saying about you. For more information see Step 11: Monitor for Mentions of your Brand, Competitors and Industry.Social media can improve referrals and word-of-mouth activity by
- Creating ‘wow’ moments for your customers
- Offering incentives with strong talking points
- Execute outstandingdigital customer service procedures
- Resolving negative customer experience ‘fires’ effectively
- Making it easy for happy customers to provide their feedback on a review site
Strategy: Create ‘wow’ moments for your customers
A ‘wow’ moment occurs in the mind of a customer when they experience something remarkable during an experience with your venue. Normally, a ‘wow’ moment occurs when a customer is inside a venue, however can happen before or after. Examples of a ‘wow’ moments are:
- Staff going above and beyond in a situation
- The whole team singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to a patron
- The chef providing a birthday cake free of charge or at minimal cost
- Staff going out of their way to help a customer’s individual issue/situation
- A customer being impressed by a design feature of your venue
- Comfortable, clean bathrooms
- Interesting fit-out or design of your bar
- Unique layout of your venue
- Seeing a celebrity at your venue
- Seeing a highly regarded or expensive product for sale at your venue
- Receiving something for free, or some kind of exclusivity
These ‘wow’ experiences can be triggered using social media. Examples are:
- Being thanked on a Twitter for visiting a venue (“It was great to see you on Saturday night @TwitterUsername! We’d love to see you again sometime soon. I hope you enjoyed your XYZ cocktail”)
- Seeing an example of a venue’s corporate responsibility shared on Facebook or Instagram (Seeing a venue support a local charity, or donate time to a community organization, or another favourable PR activity)
- Seeing a picture or video example of one of the traditional ‘wow’ moments described above
Use a monitoring platform like Hootsuite to continually monitor mentions of your competitors in Twitter and other social platforms.
Strategy: Offer incentives with strong talking points
Referrals and word-of-mouth activity can occur when customers receive a direct incentive to do so.
For example, an incentive to bring a group of friends to a bar (with a reward of a share plate or bucket of beers) is an incentive designed to produce referrals. By definition, customers are bringing other customers along.
Providing powerful, exceptional or unusual incentives, offers or promotions will produce natural word-of-mouth activity. For example, offers or promotions with high reward or benefit have a greater chance of being discussed – free food, free entry or the chance to win a high-dollar value prize are likely to produce positive word-of-mouth activity.
By nature, customers will talk about exceptional offers within their own network.
Use paid and organic social media marketing strategies to distribute these incentives and offers to new and existing customers.
Strategy: Resolve negative customer service experience ‘fires’ effectively
As discussed above, use social media to monitor the word-of-mouth activity surrounding your venue. Use it to see what people are saying about you.
Keeping an ‘ear to the ground’ allows you to detect and resolve negative customer service experience issues occurring on the social web.
For more information see Step 11: Monitor for Mentions of your Brand, Competitors and Industry.
Strategy: Make it easy for happy customers to provide their feedback on a review site
Social review sites and apps like Urbanspoon, Yelp and TripAdvisor are growing in size and influence. More and more consumers are turning to social review sites and apps to (a) find new venues to visit and (b) determine the quality of venues before visiting them. It’s important to keep your profile pages on these sites and apps filled with positive reviews!
Follow this process to increase the likelihood of receiving positive reviews:
- Train your staff to detect a ‘happy’ customer who may be interested in providing a review on your venue.
- Provide them with a dedicated printed flyer saying “Like our service? We’d love to hear your positive feedback on Urbanspoon/Yelp/TripAdvisor” (provide a link)
- Constantly monitor the social web for positive reviews from your customers. If you find a customer singing your praise, ask them to provide a review on Urbanspoon/Yelp/TripAdvisor.
Increased referrals and word-of-mouth activity is obtained by executing the abovementioned strategies via paid social media advertising campaigns (Step 9 of this Action Plan), and organic community engagement strategies (Step 8 of this Action Plan).
See the Daily Social Media Management Manual for organic social media marketing tactics for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.