Word of Mouth 2.0

Posted by on Jan 11, 2011 in Integrated Marketing Communication

This past week a big topic in the news, on Facebook and on YouTube is about the voice of a man named Ted Williams.

(If you haven’t heard about it, http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7215353n).

Sure, it’s entertaining. But what really got me about this man’s fame was how he became so prevalent: YouTube. Really, this man’s life has been changed by a video posted by another person of him speaking. Williams is an example of the amazing effects that going viral can have. It also got me thinking:  if this can be used to the benefit of one man, how can companies with financial means and vested interest in reaching consumers use this to their advantage?

Online communities give businesses an even larger arena to attempt to start word of mouth buzz, or go “viral”. Going viral helps businesses tap into the opinions of consumers and establish a relationship that extends beyond traditional marketing. It was also what got Ted Williams on CBS. Word of Mouth communication, whether online (eWOM) or face-to-face, is one of the best ways to influence buying decisions.

 In 2006 Esch, Langner, Schmitt and Geus found that purchases were directly influenced by brand image and indirectly by brand awareness. So, if my friends are talking about how great the new French fries from Wendy’s taste, the positive brand image, coupled with my familiarity with the new product, will influence my purchase intent. It also means that if I see Ted Williams is a trending topic among those I follow on Twitter, I will be more likely to click through to see who he is.

The idea of going viral or tapping into eWOM advertising is enticing, but it is difficult to get the ball rolling. What made Ted Williams different than the other homeless yet gifted street performers? Why were my friends so excited about Wendy’s new French fries (Which are, by the way, delicious)?  This remains uncertain. It does explain why every business- large and small- is developing an online presence.

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