Hey Social Media Marketers, Remember Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Word of Mouth Marketing Association

What happened to Word Of Mouth Marketing?

In the online marketing buzz, “Social Media Marketing” is akin to the Internet business frenzy about “Web 2.0”. It’s what everyone is talking about, even this blog.

Via Marketing Pilgrim, iProspect has released a report, Social Networking User Behavior Study, which confirms the power of social networking websites:

  • 1 in 3 Internet users state that social networks have influenced their purchase decisions.
  • 1 in 4 Internet users visit the most popular social networking sites at least once a month.
  • About 20% of visitors to social networking sites don’t search once they’ve reached the site.

Interesting numbers, but it may seem unsurprising (if not low) to those who are acquainted with Word-Of-Mouth Marketing (WOMM), which usually see numbers showing that 80% of consumers consider WOM as the most trusted source of information. Those are numbers frequently mentioned by BzzAgent.

Indeed maybe it’s time for those who want to do some Social Media Marketing, to get a refresher on Word-of-Mouth Marketing and how it applies to SEO…

Word of Mouth Marketing

Word-of-Mouth marketing can be a pretty expansive term that encompasses offline and online activities.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Associations (WOMMA) describes WOMM as:

“Giving people a reason to talk about your products and services [DR: sounds like Linkbaiting], and making it easier for that conversation to take place [DR: sounds like Social Media Optimization].”

Sounds familiar to “Social Media Marketers”, non?

See what the WOMMA describes as covered under Word-of-Mouth:

  • Buzz Marketing: Using high-profile entertainment or news to get people to talk about your brand.
  • Viral Marketing: Creating entertaining or informative messages that are designed to be passed along in an exponential fashion, often electronically or by email.
  • Community Marketing: Forming or supporting niche communities that are likely to share interests about the brand (such as user groups, fan clubs, and discussion forums); providing tools, content, and information to support those communities.
  • Grassroots Marketing: Organizing and motivating volunteers to engage in personal or local outreach.
  • Evangelist Marketing: Cultivating evangelists, advocates, or volunteers who are encouraged to take a leadership role in actively spreading the word on your behalf.
  • Product Seeding: Placing the right product into the right hands at the right time, providing information or samples to influential individuals.
  • Influencer Marketing: Identifying key communities and opinion leaders who are likely to talk about products and have the ability to influence the opinions of others.
  • Cause Marketing: Supporting social causes to earn respect and support from people who feel strongly about the cause.
  • Conversation Creation: Interesting or fun advertising, emails, catch phrases, entertainment, or promotions designed to start word of mouth activity.
  • Brand Blogging: Creating blogs and participating in the blogosphere, in the spirit of open, transparent communications; sharing information of value that the blog community may talk about.
  • Referral Programs: Creating tools that enable satisfied customers to refer their friends.

Again, a very expansive list but also nicely overlaps with many things that Online PR folks and Social Media Marketing folks do, from blog outreach to linkbait.

Social Media Marketing as a Bigger Picture, Not an SEO Tool
So why does this matter? David Wilson said that at he felt SES and of the SEO World:

“The SEO field needs to stop thinking of social media optimization as a short-term tactic that they can use to game the search engines. Not everything needs to center around a company’s URL.”

I think if SEO folks and even the newly emerging Social Media Marketers take a lesson from the more established world of Word of Mouth marketing, they would have a greater sense of appreciation of understand SMM/SMO is part of a greater marketing/pr activity that “can be used to help their business improve customer satisfaction and gain market share.”

I highly recommend that all Search/Social Media Marketers read WOMMA’s Word of Mouth 101.

Note: My employer, e-Storm International, is a member of WOMMA.




3 responses to “Hey Social Media Marketers, Remember Word-of-Mouth Marketing?”

  1. zuzf Avatar

    hey dan, really good post. important reminder to people who get caught up in SEO, social networks, blogs, what not, forgetting the big picture (and the fact that marketing has existed since well before “web 2.0” :)).

  2. Daniel R Avatar
    Daniel R

    Hey Zuz,

    Exactly. Sure there are a lot of new things, but a lot of the old principals and practices still apply, like how Underpants Gnomes Economics still doesnt work:

    I’ve had a hard time trying to keep it straight, especially when I end up at Geek Dinner parties with Scoble:


  3. annalaura brown Avatar

    great interesting post. I love social bookmarking and networking sites.

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