Word-of-mouth is a powerful force. Combined with the influences of social media’s virality, the net is quick to boost what businesses have on offer through simple online recommendations. How often do you take in what your friends and family have to say about a certain brand? Are you more likely to opt for a product that they have recommended to you, or are you more likely to opt for one that a stranger on a forum has suggested.

Think back to your school days. How likely were you to go home and tell your parents that you absolutely needed to have the latest Furby, swap cards or skipping rope, just because someone in your class had it too? As consumers, we’re inclined to want products that are popular, on-trend and able to enhance our lifestyles – be it necessary or not. We trust those around us to help us decide  which steps to take in regards to acquiring those goods, and we’re more likely to ask for the opinions of those we know most – for example, little Jim from art class.

The online world offers benefits that are continuously redefining the word “endless”. But with it, it brings a collective of disadvantages, meaning any business that is present online, needs to know how to effectively micro-target the right audience. Who are they likely to listen to? Can you target their friends and family? Are celebrities a good option to add into the mix? What has the potential to go “viral”?

Go social – know how to talk the talk

Believe it or not, many businesses across the globe are still ignoring the expanse of social media, not buying into (or trusting) the polethora of opportunities that it holds. Be it Facebook, Twitter or the good, old Instagram, social is still the best place for any brand to start spreading the word about what they have on offer. In fact, these platfroms play a MAJOR role in the buyer’s journey – on average, 26% of purchases made orginate from a social recommendation. This puts a huge emphasis on the importance of social marketing and the major impact it has through word-of-mouth.

How can businesses target the experts that consumers trust?

Although most online shoppers will be quick to trust what their closest pal or loved one has to suggest, some look for the authoratitive recommendations from industry experts. Sometimes leverageing your messages through those that have loyal, hefty followings on the likes of Twitter or Instagram, can help you target those that you’d otherwise miss. Unforunately, with huge followings like these, it’s likely your point will still fall on deaf ears – not everyone will be interested in what you have to say.

So, in saying all that, sponsored or paid social media marketing can eliminate the inactive, uninterested audience that you’d be wasting your time on in the above scenarios. Methods like LinkedIn InMail or Facebook Ads are great ways to zoom in on individuals that are more likely to invest interest in your business, especially through geographic, age and gender targeting options.

The first step to ensure your product hits the stage of virality or word-of-mouth influence comes from knowing exactly how to get your message across to those that are likely to spread it – social marketing is that exact foot in the door.