In a world of mouths

We had gone past the ‘We tell you’ and the ‘Tell us what you think of what we tell you’period. Today, we are in the ‘Tell each other’ days.

The social media model of communication sets the stage for a collaborative creation and sharing of knowledge. Everyone who has access to the Internet is capable of contributing to the pool of information online—be it on science and technology, engineering, mathematics, communication studies, or the arts. Also, the NSM democratizes content and influence. We are no longer under the orders of the media or business organizations. As the tables have now turned, we have gained much power and authority in communication and commerce. Now, it’s the businesses that listen to us. We tell them what we want and do not want. And we tell and influence one another on what to want and not to want.

The Marketing Hybrid

This shift in power and influence has in fact become prevalent in the field of marketing. At present, the most dominant marketing tool which grabs the attention of corporations is the hybrid of the word of mouth and viral marketing. Viral word of mouth. Exactly! It is word of mouth proliferating in the Web. It’s the online sharing of opinions about a product or service among consumers and brand advocates.

Dave Balter, founder and president of BzzAgent, a word of mouth marketing and research firm located in Boston described word of mouth as the holy grail of marketers, CEOs and entrepreneurs. It is considered the most powerful medium in the planet as itdictates what product succeeds and what fails. Balter enumerated several features of the word of mouth:

1. Mutual dialogue

2. Storytelling

3. Pass-along effect

4. Knowledge diffusion

The triple EXs of the viral word of mouth

These characteristics may be translated to the Triple EXs of the word of mouth-viral marketing hybrid.

EXperience

Viral word of mouth is as natural as storytelling. It’s how consumers make sense of their own product or service experiences and share these stories through the social media. The stories can only be driven by satisfaction from a full experience of the brand. Every effective word of mouth can only start with an honest and real consumer experience. Nothing else.

EXchange

When a full experience of the product or service has been handed to consumers, the next thing they could do is to talk about these stories. See how they start conversations through their blogs, SNS, through online fora and conferences. Let them communicate the stories online, engage other brand fans and draw in potential consumers.

EXponential

Thanks to the Internet, honest stories of satisfied consumers and conversations on real brand experience spread exponentially. It’s viral. Whether it’s an email, a twit, a status message or a video, it’s 10x faster.

Endnotes

The EXponential EXchange of EXperience in a viral word of mouth even functions to strengthen the power of consumers and Web users. It is no longer the publishers or media owners who determine what’s latest and important. It is the people—the audience and consumers—who tell what is worth talking about and what is worth sharing.

The agenda setting power of the media seems not at all applicable and effective in the Internet Age. The communication process has been transformed into a big collaborative system of ideas, information and opinions. The audience is no longer seen as passive receivers of messages. They are now co-creators of content and co- proprietors of influence and power. They get involved and are conversing openly more than ever. To some extent, the Web has been an arena of their stories and stands. A world of their mouths.


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4 comments
  1. It just amazes me how social media could empower an individual and push him or her into world stage. Everyone has an equal voice with social media, and people aren’t forced anymore to adhere to mainstream companies. Just like how the invention of printing press led to the cut of costs in production of books, social media today brings back the big companies back to earth–they have to earn respect from individuals around the world. The freedom everyone has promotes competition, which for me, is healthy and promotes progression.

  2. Your blog led me to think of my power to influence in a “world of mouths”. It made me think–and rethink–the fact that as Orcom students and practitioners in the near future, we have the privilege to shape and send a message in the most powerful way it could in the best suitable channels to other mouths such that they would also start speaking and telling stories about the same message. The responsibility comes, though, in determining what message to send and weighing if it is truly a message worth sending–and worth receiving.

    *it’s a very informative post of yours. 🙂

  3. barrycade said:

    excellent post. i find the triple EXs very informative and helpful in leveraging the power of viral marketing. indeed, word of mouth is much more influential than any form of advertising.

  4. And now that you mentioned the importance of word of mouth, I think it is then important that we do not stop at getting our audiences to receive the message. We should create an atmosphere that will allow for them to talk about the message to each other. Whether we’re talking about emails, tweets, videos, or others you mentioned earlier, the real test comes in creating the conditions that will foster interaction not just between us and our audiences, but interaction among themselves.

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