Word of mouth

Word of mouth

"Word of mouth", is a reference to the passing of information by verbal means, especially recommendations, but also general information, in an informal, person-to-person manner. Word of mouth is typically considered a face-to-face spoken communication, although phone conversations, text messages sent via SMS and web dialogue, such as online profile pages, blog posts, message board threads, instant messages and emails are often now included in the definition of word of mouth."'There is some overlap in meaning between word of mouth and the following: rumour, gossip, innuendo, and hearsay; however word of mouth is more commonly used to describe positive information being spread rather than negative, although this is not always the case.

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM)

Word-of-mouth marketing, which encompasses a variety of subcategories, including buzz, blog, viral, grassroots, cause, influencer and social media marketing, as well as ambassador programs, work with consumer-generated media and more, can be highly valued by product marketers. Because of the personal nature of the communications between individuals, it is believed that product information communicated in this way has an added layer of credibility. Research points to individuals being more inclined to believe WOMM than more formal forms of promotion methods; the receiver of word-of-mouth referrals tends to believe that the communicator is speaking honestly and is unlikely to have an ulterior motive (i.e. they are not receiving an incentive for their referrals). [Grewal, R., T.W. Cline, and A. Davies, 2003. Early-Entrant Advantage, Word-of-Mouth Communication, Brand Similarity, and the Consumer Decision-Making Process. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13(3).]

In order to promote and manage word-of-mouth communications, marketers use publicity techniques as well as viral marketing methods to achieve desired behavioral response. Influencer marketing is increasingly used to seed WOMM by targeting key individuals that have authority and a high number of personal connections.

Marketers place significant value on positive word-of-mouth, which has historically been achieved by creating products or services that generate such "buzz" naturally. The relatively new practice of word of mouth marketing attempts to inject positive "buzz" into conversations directly. While marketers have always hoped to achieve positive word-of-mouth, deliberate efforts to generate beneficial consumer conversations must be transparent and honestly conducted in order to meet the requirements of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act that prohibits "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." [ [http://www.ftc.gov/opp/gpra/append1.shtm#N_1_ Laws Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission] ] In order to help marketers understand the difference between legitimate and unfair practices, a number of professional organizations have put forward recommendations for ethical conduct. [ [http://www.womma.org/ethics/code/read/ Word of Mouth Marketing Association Ethics Code] ] [ [http://wwww.marketingpower.com/content1943490.php American Marketing Association Best Practices for Word of Mouth Communications] ] .

Word-of-mouth effects in the life cycle of cultural goods has been mathematically modelled. [César A. Hidalgo, A. Castro and Carlos Rodriguez-Sickert, 'The effect of social interactions in the primary life cycle of motion pictures,' New Journal of Physics, April, 2006.] For evidence as to the conditions under which word-of-mouth communication is effective, see Grewal et al. 2003.

With the emergence of Web 2.0, many web start-ups like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and Digg have used buzz marketing by merging it with the social networks that they have developed. With the increasing use of the Internet as a research and communications platform, word of mouth has become an even more powerful and useful resource for consumers and marketers.

Unsuccessful examples

* Burger King's Subservient Chicken - Burger King's marketing program called Subservient Chicken did indeed generate a lot of word of mouth, but the word of mouth was about the marketing campaign instead of the product that was being marketed. Also, those marketing efforts which rely on being edgy or on some kind of stunt often fade quickly when the novelty or edge wears off. Finally, this type of marketing is not reproducible or sustainable since it won't be edgy the second time around.
* McDonald's LincolnFry - a fake blog was discovered, and it generated lots of negative word of mouth and little participation.
* American Express' billboard - a fake blog poster who told readers to check out a great Amex billboard was found to be an Ogilvy employee; this violation of trust resulted in massive negative word of mouth which spread around the world.

uccessful examples

* Affinitive's "American Skiing Company: MyA41.com Passholder Community" campaign, won a 2007 Wommie Award from The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). The American Skiing Company hosted an online social networking site, MyA41.com, for its "All for One" season pass holders. Nearly 4,000 users signed up to, and posted photos, stories, ski tips, and videos on the MyA41 site and spread the word about the "All for One" pass.

* Converseon's "Second Chance Tree Project [ [http://www.secondchancetrees.org/ Second Chance Trees Reforestation Project] ] Takes Reforestation from Virtual World to Physical Worlds" campaign, which won a 2007 Wommie Award from WOMMA, used virtual world Second Life to help generate donations for Plant It 2020. The program, which allowed Second Life users to purchase a virtual tree on Second Chance Trees Island for 300 Linden dollars as a way to trigger the planting of a real tree in areas affected by deforestation. The program garnered the attention of thousands of avatars and was elected as the only social media initiative among the 50 finalists in the $5 million American Express Members Project competition.

* Fanscape's "Clear Channel NEW! Populating Site with Musicians Campaign" used music fans, grassroots tactics, and transparent outreach via sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Garage Band to spread the word about Clear Channel's music-focused website, NEW! In the first two weeks post-launch alone, the site received 1,500+ music submissions from independent bands and musicians. This program received a 2007 Wommie Award from WOMMA.

* With Quicken Loans' "How Quicken Loans Became a Yahoo! Answers Knowledge Partner" program, the company was able to leverage Yahoo! Answers to field questions that users were asking about home loans. The only rule Quicken Loans implemented to guide their answers was: "Answer the question. Don't tell them how great Quicken Loans is. Don't tell them how they will benefit from our products. Don't tell them anything except what they ask," which provided potential customers with information, instead of a sales pitch. The program received a 2007 Wommie Award from WOMMA.

ee also

* Customer engagement
* Influencer marketing
* Language
* Advertising
* Propaganda
* New Media Marketing
* Evangelism marketing
* Stealth marketing
* Astroturfing
* Publicity
* Business Marketing
* Online marketing
* Reputation management


* Renée Dye, 'The Buzz on Buzz,' Harvard Business Review, November-December, 2000.
* Rajdeep Grewal, Thomas W. Cline, and Antony Davies, 'Early-Entrant Advantage, Word-of-Mouth Communication, Brand Similarity, and the Consumer Decision-Making Process,' Journal of Consumer Psychology, October, 2003.
* Frederick F. Reichheld, 'The One Number You Need to Grow,' Harvard Business Review, December, 2003.
* Yubo Chen and Jinhong Xie, 'Online Consumer Review: A New Element of Marketing Communications Mix,' http://ssrn.com/abstract=618782, July, 2004.
* Florian v Wangenheim and Tomás Bayón, 'The effect of word of mouth on services switching: Measurement and moderating variables,' European Journal of Marketing, September, 2004.
* Paul Marsden, Alain Samson, and Neville Upton, 'Advocacy Drives Growth,' Brand Strategy, December, 2005.
* BoldMouth and Osterman Research, 'Perceptions, Practices and Ethics in Word of Mouth Marketing,' [http://www.boldmouth.com/studies/word_of_mouth_marketing_research_boldmouth.pdf Website] , May, 2006.

External links

* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJL6r_xfs_8 YouTube Video FTC ethical concerns and new laws against word of mouth marketing on a YouTube video]
* [http://www.som.yale.edu/faculty/dm324/papers.asp Word-of-Mouth Research] at Yale School of Management
* [http://www.womma.org Word of Mouth Marketing Association]

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