Traditionally the most powerful form of advertising has been said to be word of mouth recommendations by friends. This was stronger than glossy advertisments since the source of the recommendation had no credibility issues. We generally believe our friends and do not suspect them of having an “agenda”, whereas we are more sceptical of outsiders and especially professionals whose very job is to sell us their products and services. In general people do not like being sold to, and door to door salesman for example are usually considered a pest.
Word of mouse.
“Word of mouth” recommendations were oral and they were either one to one, or at the most in a gathering of friends which could perhaps be a dozen people. Following on from my previous article about the “follow me” generation, , where I mentioned that people with a large group of friends or even just a very large network of contacts (be they offline or virtual contacts) can become “mini-celebrities” in their own social circle on the internet, I am going to talk about “word of mouse” i.e. recommending products and services to your friends on the internet be it through social media or any other form.
Differences between “word of mouse” and “word of mouth”
1. Word of mouth is usually one to one or maybe a dozen or so people in a social setting, in “word of mouse” you can endorse something to tens, hundreds, if not thousands of people with a single click.
2. Word of mouth you merely describe, in “word of mouse”, you can show your friends videos, pictures or recommend them directly to sites with information.
3. Word of mouth can be done over the phone or requires going out to meeting people, “word of mouse” can be done from the comfort of your own home or even when you’re out and about via your Iphone, blackberry or any other mobile phone (for my many American readers, you say “cell phone”!).
4. Word of mouth is done with people you phsyically know, “word of mouse” can be with people you develop trust and friendship with via the internet so can transcend geographical limitations.
5. By word of mouse you can refer people to consumer forums which evaluate how good or bad a product or service is, in fact sometimes these consumer forums themselves are called part of the word of mouse process, though I am mainly referring to online recommendations by people you know yourself and not public forums. You can also copy and paste key parts of a text to your online friends, something not as easy or common offline where people do not tend to carry out leaflets and highlight relevant parts.
What this all means is that marketing has changed, and companies are now even more than in the past required to be at their very past to deliver the best products or services to customers as the internet makes it very easy for them to be endorsed or criticized. This is ultimately good news for the consumer, and shows us how powerful and important the internet is and social media.
– Jahan Choudhry