Word of mouth communications and peer-to-peer dialogue often have a greater effect on customers, since they are not sent directly from the company and are therefore not planned. Customers are more likely to trust other customers’ experiences. Examples can be that social media users share food products and meal experiences highlighting certain brands and franchises. This was noted in a study on Instagram, where researchers observed that adolescent Instagram users' posted images of food-related experiences within their social networks, providing free advertising for the products.
Twenty years ago, the reach of an average person was relatively small; for the most part, referrals were made face to face or over the phone. Today, with social media and review websites, the average person’s audience is enormous. They can reach hundreds if not thousands of friends and acquaintances in a matter of minutes with a simple Facebook post, Yelp review, or other public-facing review.
Look at products such as Hotmail, Facebook, YouTube, Gmail, Snapchat, dating websites, and Craigslist. They all have one thing in common: they are products that went viral. These are the ideal viral marketing opportunities as these products get better when more people use them. I don’t to discuss these properly, but it’s essential to know that they exist for a complete view of viral marketing.
You may use both cash or non-cash incentives for referral marketing example, but a Chicago University study found that non-monetary incentives were more effective than cash benefits by 24%. It is also better to not confine referral to customers or employees alone, referral marketing websites can also be used to new customers and lure them into referral marketing programs.