Five years ago, I attended the first word of mouth marketing conference organized by WOMMA. I still remember the energy that gathering had – people from a variety of professional backgrounds were presenting how they were tapping into the power of peer-to-peer conversations. There were advertisers, political consultants, brand consultants, widget makers, professors, researchers… Each presentation was more interesting than the other.
I was really disappointed by one speaker though. He got up on stage and said that we had all been doing word of mouth for a long time and that all things lead to word of mouth. All communications generated conversations. At the time, I didn’t find this so novel. I really wanted to see a case study and hear about counter-intuitive facts. Today, I cannot agree more. If we’re in the business of communication, marketing, planning, storytelling, advocacy–simply put, selling–then we’re in the business of word of mouth marketing.
I’ve been working in the Internet sector for over a decade. I have always been interested in the way ideas spread online and trickle offline. Today, we’re no longer debating the importance of emerging platforms such as blogs and social networks. While we continue to debate their impact on business and our daily lives, we sense that these tools are the first versions of communication platforms that will make news spread even faster and further.
That’s why I wrote Implementing Word of Mouth Marketing: Online Strategies to Identify Influencers, Craft Stories and Draw Customers. It just hit the shelves. The book is a comprehensive guide to understand, engage and sustain relationships with online audiences. My goal was to go beyond explaining the importance of word of mouth marketing in the Internet space. I wanted to give my readers a step-by-step plan they could customize to fire off their business, using Web-based tools.
I use several images across the book:
I start with a computer to explain how the Web fits into the overall mix of communication channels.
I continue with the eye and the ear to indicate that we first need to watch and listen to identify and better understand networking agents–those cybercitizens who create content, speak up and drive buzz.
Then I open my mouth, to show best practices in communicating with networking agents.
I pick up the megaphone as I offer campaign design ideas and measurement plans to launch online word of mouth marketing programs.
As the global Internet population approaches the 2 billion people mark over the course of the next few years, I believe we should pay closer attention to conversations that percolate online.
(images created by Greg Kessler)