Thursday, 20 August 2009

Word of Mouth: What works and why

I could write reams on this topic as I am endlessly frustrated by brands coming to me and saying I want a "viral".

Let's be clear: Swine flu is a VIRUS.

Something can be transmitted VIRALLY (adverb).

There is NO SUCH THING in digital marketing as a VIRAL.

Viral transmission of content is SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS.

People will only VOLUNTARILY pass on things that they think are interesting, funny, useful and that will reflect well upon the sender in the eyes of the recipient.

Rant over.

To illustrate the point here's a snapshot of something someone sent me earlier today and I am now choosing to share with you because a) it made me laugh and b) it
evidences the point I've just made.

The full version is here and well worth a click.

There's another point about time-sensitivity and WOM that needs to be made but I'll save that for another day. In the interim I'll make the point the short way by saying that yesterday someone flagged up to me the well-established-but-until-now-had-passed-me-by phenomenon of the photo-crashing squirrel, which had me in stitches yesterday, and then again this morning when having sent a friend the link to an "insert the squirrel into your picture" site they sent me back their attempt. Imagine harnessing the value of that level of consumer participation and positive sentiment to your brand by facilitating something similar.

I'm saddened that Reader's Digest (the original offline Twitter?) has filed for Chapter 11 this week, but as a tribute to a longstanding part of their publication I'll sign off, with "Laughter: The best medicine."

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