With the advent of Social Media, I suppose it’s easy to get drawn into thinking that all these new ways of marketing on the web is maybe a sign of a new dawn for customer thinking, too. And while Social Media might offer a different approach to marketing, people aren’t thinking any differently towards marketing…
Case in point would be Jordan McCollum of Marketing Pilgrim and her overview of a Rubicon Consulting study stating that: “word of mouth and online reviews are the most influential factors in consumer purchasing decisions.”
This should not be a surprise to anyone.
Word-of-Mouth in the face of Social Media
Word-of-Mouth is a timeless theme of marketing, more indicative of human nature than an artifact of marketing itself. In conclusion of her article, Jordan asks:
“What do you think—which of these observations is most useful? Most surprising?”
To which I reply, by way of a comment:
“None really. They’re all part & parcel of a gradual but measurable trend.
In time, places like Get Satisfaction will become heavily trafficked, and StumbleUpon might have to set its stall out differently, to cater to a slightly different audience. Or to the same audience but with slightly different needs…”
What we term as Word-of-Mouth marketing is a slightly different animal on the web; one that also includes direct and indirect referrals & recommendations from friends, which StumbleUpon is built around. Whereas places like Get Satisfaction are more about accountability, but both are part of the same thing.
Back in January I wrote for GigaOM’s Found|Read, offering a counter-point to Seth Godin’s erroneous views on “Word of Mouth” marketing:
“Finding cost-effective marketing techniques is a challenge. One such marketing technique defies the passing of time, and stoically remains both free and reliable — and that’s word-of-mouth recommendations…”
The simple fact of the matter is, people trust other people more than they trust sales people and marketeers. It’s about trust and impartial advice. Once we sense a vested interest, most of us just switch off. And as people all around the world start doing more of their shopping and socializing on the web, bad news is going to travel at light speed.
As powerful a vehicle Social Media is for businesses to communicate their message, their products, services et cetera, the real power of Social Media (and by extension / association social networking) is that it’s a two-way process.
Whereas current “off-line” marketing is, for all intents and purposes, a one-way dialogue, Social Media empowers people to create their own message, which can have a great leveling effect on brand names. Here I’m thinking about the new multi-purpose Pepsi branding, which is a dialogue all its own, one I’m sure Pepsi are keeping a close eye on.
So all those businesses out there, trusting their marketing efforts to printed materials, hoping that last faulty product run went unnoticed — watch out! Chances are, someone out there, maybe even a Super Advocate (if you’re really unlucky), is giving your business a pretty rough time on a forum, a social network, or maybe on Get Satisfaction…