Online Word of Mouth Can Be Invaluable to Small Businesses

In the past, it was often said that word of mouth was one of the biggest drivers of sales for small businesses, but the world has changed significantly since people began living more of their lives online. However, it seems that some things never change, as positive reviews – particularly those from influential people on social networking platforms – can do wonders for owners and their companies’ bottom lines.

For this reason, it might be helpful for small business owners to try to identify what are known as “online influencers” in their industries, or those in some way related to their businesses, and trying in some way to connect with them, according to a report from New York Newsday. This type of word of mouth may be far more beneficial for any small business than the kind in which consumers who have built up considerable online followings may be able to connect with their followers about the products or services of a company large or small, and potentially lead to more sales.

Of course, the problem with this fact is that it’s not always easy for companies, particularly smaller ones, to determine who is or is not an influencer in their field, the report said. Fortunately, there are a number of services – some expensive, some less so – that can help businesses of all sizes to find online influencers. Once that kind of information is determined, it can be much easier for companies to seek out these people and try to use them as a means of promoting products, services, or events that may help to boost sales.

How to do it
When trying to connect with an influencer, businesses should not just approach them out of the blue and ask them to promote something, as this will likely come off as crass and exploitative, the report said. Instead, companies should follow that person, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or another type of social platform, and determine the kind of tone they use and their general attitude toward this type of promotion, as well as what they tend to like. Once owners feel as though they have a fairly good handle on how the influencer will react to being approached, it may be possible to reach out to them either through that social media service or via email.

Once companies have made contact, it may be time to start talking about the terms of the deal, the report said. Whether a business will be able to provide them with free products or services, or will simply pay them money, in exchange for the person to write or talk about their company for their massive or devoted audiences, which could lead to a spike in sales if the reviews are generally good.

“These are people that haven’t necessarily built an enormous audience but a very loyal and reliable audience,” Derek Skaletsky, chief opportunity officer for Traackr Inc., a San Francisco-based influencer marketing and relationship management platform, told the newspaper.

But because the services that help consumers find and connect with influencers generally cost money, and because brokering the deal may likewise take some company resources, it may be advisable for owners to try to improve their financial standings overall before entering into any such deals. Finding more affordable small business insurance policies, including those for liability insurance and other types of coverage, which may help to free up some money that can then be devoted to other areas of concern for their companies as they try to improve and grow.