What “Word-Of-Mouth” Looks Like In The Digital Age

Word-of-mouth marketing is a timeless and powerful tool for influencing decisions and driving sales. In the past, this involved one person telling another or pointing them toward a product or service during face-to-face conversations. Today, the mentality behind word-of-mouth and the referral network remains the same, but platforms and reach have transformed dramatically. An online review or social media post influences hundreds or thousands. The transition from personal exchanges to digital dialogs has expanded the scope and impact of these recommendations.

The Relationship Between Word of Mouth & Content 

Online reviews and directories have become the new face of word-of-mouth marketing. Nearly half of the consumers (46.5%) find attorneys through sites like Yelp, Avvo.com, Google, and others, according to a Martindale-Avvo survey involving 6,300 consumers. These platforms allow users to share their experiences and opinions widely, significantly impacting the decision-making process of potential new clients. Instead of one-on-one conversations, these reviews are public and accessible to anyone anytime, increasing their influence. 

While many clients first become aware of a law firm because they got a referral from someone they trust, online research often validates it. As a law firm providing a service, your goal should be establishing credibility and expertise through your content. Why? This advances the prospective client from needing an attorney to booking a consultation. They are learning about you through the content you have put out. Another interesting component of that survey was that less than half of those referred to a specific attorney hired them. Content plays a role in helping someone make their final decision. A referral brings them to you, but your content may keep them leaving. 

Engagement & Social Media (From A Law Firm’s Perspective)

Engagement is often seen as a confirmation that people are enjoying and appreciating your content. If you post on a wide range of platforms, which all of our clients do, they will look for likes, shares, and even comments to see if their marketing is as effective as they want it to be. Social media is built around users posting reviews and sharing their experiences through stories, status updates, and videos. These posts then get shared, commented on, and liked.  

Does this extend to the legal industry? Because many people will turn to an attorney during a difficult time, they may be less inclined to engage with a law firm’s content this way. As an attorney, your engagement may be low—which does not mean it is ineffective. Likes don’t translate to dollars. To have an idea if your content is working, ask the following questions: 

  1. Have I been getting more referrals? 
  2. Are the right kinds of clients contacting me?
  3. Has it been easier to get someone to become a paid client because they came in more educated and prepared to work with me? 

Even if the likes and shares aren’t there, your audience is still out there, albeit not as visible as you would likely want them to be. The Martindale-Avvo survey reinforced that, as a law firm, your audience is making decisions based on your digital footprint. People who contacted an attorney because of a website (36%) beat print advertising (10%) and TV/Radio ads (5%). 

The Pew Research Center also published data stating that more older people use smartphones and social media. Smartphone ownership has seen a marked increase across all age groups, with 96% of 18 to 29-year-olds and 61% of those 65 and older owning smartphones. This is a sharp increase from 2012. Similarly, social media use has grown, especially among those 65 and older, who have quadrupled their usage since 2010, closing the gap with younger users. Internet and tablet usage continues to rise. 

Content Marketing Cannot be Overlooked

Word-of-mouth marketing has evolved, requiring law firms to adapt and thrive alongside it. The growth of online reviews and social media engagement has shifted how trust and credibility are built and maintained. Law firms must ensure their digital presence accurately reflects their expertise and reliability, leveraging content and client interactions to foster positive online word-of-mouth.

The digital divide is closing across age groups, and the opportunity to reach a broader audience is even more apparent now than a decade ago. Your digital footprint is a fundamental component of your marketing strategy, whether through detailed reviews, engaging social media content, or informative websites.

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Spotlight Branding

Spotlight Branding is a content marketing and branding firm for lawyers and other professionals. Our goal is to help you create an online presence that positions you as a credible expert in your field, keeps you connected with your network in order to stay top of mind and increase referrals, and to become more visible online so prospects can find you!