Word-of-mouth marketing is the most basic marketing strategy utilized today, and is one that’s as old as business itself. Colloquially referred to as WOM or WOM marketing, word-of-mouth marketing is the simple act of consumers exchanging information about a businesswom_success via talking. Traditionally, word-of-mouth was done in person with friends, families, and neighbors; today, word-of-mouth marketing has become much more digitized, and relies on the exchange of information using texting, emails, online review sites like Yelp or Google+ Local, and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, word-of-mouth marketing today now has the potential to reach thousands of people within a matter of hours, and is no longer limited to a customer’s circle of friends and family.

While WOM is a very organic process – meaning that paid efforts aren’t necessary to continue its natural progression – WOM marketing campaigns can be launched to increase user outreach and brand recognition. Planning and executing a word-of-mouth marketing campaign can be one of the most successful strategies for attracting customers and increasing profits.

Whether you’re a small business, organization or non-profit, large business or corporation, business-to-business (B2B), or business-to-consumer (B2C), the elements of a successful word-of-mouth marketing campaign are the same across the board. Just like all other marketing campaigns, a WOM marketing campaign should be:

  • Respectable
  • Honest
  • Measurable
  • Credible
  • Shared/Social
  • Engaging

These characteristics are important for a number of reasons. First, honesty and credibility are incredibly important for staying true to your brand’s message, creating trust amongst customers, and ensuring that people want to talk about your brand. Because 92 percent of consumers reportedly trust recommendations from friends and families (compared with a mere 10 percent that trust brand name alone), according to a great infographic published by Lithium, staying credible and honest is one of the most essential aspects of a successful WOM marketing campaign. Likewise, user engagement is obviously important – without user engagement on at least a basic level, WOM marketing is rendered impossible. Creating a campaign that is shareable via social media is important to engagement, as the more sharing that occurs, the more engagement that’s bound to follow. Finally, measurability is the last component of a successful word-of-mouth marketing campaign. If a campaign isn’t measurable, then assessing its performance and making necessary adjustments won’t be possible, either. Using relevant metrics to track campaign performance is key.

This post originally appeared on the HireInfluence Social Media Brand Advocates Blog