The meaning of word-of-mouth in a digital age

by Lena
12 Januray 2019

Reading time: 3 minutes

smiling young woman with short brown hair in a flowery blue sundress wearing a straw hat and holding a red backpack over one shoulder in front of pane windows

Not so long ago, the norm was that when you got a new haircut, watched the latest movie, or tried out a new restaurant, you would chat with your friends and family about it. You could turn it into a great story to tell and at the same time give them good recommendations, or places to avoid. They would trust your opinion and even spread the word to other people seeking advice. If your story was worth sharing they would even adopt it as their own and further spread the word. However, these recommendations would only work on a local scale.

Because potential customers are faced with ads and emails from diverse sources on the internet, the way people make their decisions before purchasing has changed. 88% of local consumers do their own research and use reviews to determine if a local business is good or bad. For a hair salon, this research usually entails looking at recent customer reviews (on Google, Facebook or Yelp), checking out your website or social media for recent hairstyles, colors, other services or even the actual physical appearance or location of the hair salon.

Word of mouth marketing is still a valid way to obtain new customers, but has also evolved in a different way into something we now call “buzz marketing”. As social media networks have grown, so have the different ways people communicate. New tools have appeared on social networks like Facebook that are designed to promote recommendations between users. Based on these changes, your salon’s business plan also has to be updated.

With the rise of business pages for companies on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and more, customers can leave reviews on the online page of your hair salon or make a general post about their experience on their personal page. This is where hashtags and mentions come in handy. Customers can tag you in their post to direct their audience to your page, as well as to make you aware that they talked about it. Because of this, you need to know how to manage customer reviews. Be it in a positive or negative light, respond to reviews with the aim of generating more reviews for your salon.

yellow background with a drawing of a man and a woman talking with empty speech bubbles

If it is done in a positive way, make sure to reward their effort by giving them a quick thank you note.
If you receive a negative review, it is even more important to answer and try to resolve the issue if possible. By doing so, you show people reading your reviews that you care and that you don't take these type of matters lightly. It makes a huge difference for your reputation if you display that you are willing to improve your customer service instead of just ignoring bad reviews.

Do you see now how online word of mouth can affect your business in a tremendously positive way?

How does online word-of-mouth marketing work?

Advantage of online reviews

On Facebook business pages, customers can leave reviews that will be visible to other users. As Facebook is the biggest social network where most people use their real name, these reviews will be seen as trustworthy by other users even if they do not know the person. Indeed, 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Moreover, when somebody consults your hair salon page, their friends’ reviews will appear at the top, making it easy for them to check their acquaintances' opinions about you. It’s a simple equation: the more reviews you have, and the better they are, the better the impression on potential customers.

How can I promote my salon on social media?

People like to document the “highlights” of their lives and to show themselves looking good. After leaving your salon, some of them will choose to take a selfie of their fresh new haircut and share it on Instagram. You should encourage this, while also trying to make sure they use a hashtag that’s personal to your salon. Their photo will be seen by their followers attracts potential customers to your page when their friends click your link.

yellow background with a drawing of a man and a woman talking with empty speech bubbles

On Instagram and Facebook, you can create intriguing posts that online users can interact with by leaving comments on it. You can create a post that would prompt your audience to tag their friends in it thus making yourself more visible.

How to get reviews on Facebook

Facebook has a tool that enables users to highlight the fact that they are looking for recommendations to their circle of friends by displaying a map where other users can pinpoint the business they want to recommend. Users directly ask their circle of friends to recommend them a place which will then be displayed visibly on the map and in the comments.

Why word-of-mouth is key for your hair salon?

As a business, you always have to find new ways to attract new customers to engage with you as your current ones can move away, change their spending habits, and so on.
Most of the time, customers become long-term ones because your hair salon has been recommended to them by a family member or friend. Indeed, people trust the opinion of their loved ones more than any other kind of advertising.

green blue background with a red and blue megaphone peeking out of a circle projecting icons and objects with the words digital marketing under it

A new marketing strategy through word-of-mouth has now appeared by recommendations made by influencers. Brands reach out to influencers for them to try out their products or services, then recommend them to their online following. Unlike celebrities, influencers are seen as normal people by their followers and are thus deemed trustworthy by their audience. Therefore, influencer marketing is booming and one of the most efficient marketing tools.

Getting a stamp of approval from an influencer would ensure high coverage for your salon.

Overall, word-of-mouth or buzz marketing is just one facet of your overall marketing strategy, but an important one. It’s evolved quite a bit from even ten years ago, but we’ve got all the tools and tricks to keep your salon being talked about for years to come.