There are now more than a few text books on Word of Mouth or Buzz Marketing. Whilst most Marketeers understand that these mediums exist, many fail to realise that these communication channels can be used to reach out to existing and new consumers.
What is interesting is that research has found technologies and techniques that are now available to help to identify how Word of Mouth or Buzz Marketing works. In the book, “The Tipping Point“, Malcolm Gladwell demonstrates how often a seemingly irrelevant or inconsequential influence can have major unforeseen impacts. The ‘tipping point’ is that magic moment when ideas, trends and social behaviours cross a critical threshold and ‘take’, causing a tidal wave of far reaching effect.
How can Brands reach the “connectors” that Malcolm Gladwell refers to?
People with unusually high social networks, charisma and the pretense to pass on opinions either positive or negative about products are indeed worthy of special treatment. But finding them is often not that easy. However, new techniques are emerging that can segment a large group, filtering out the most likely connectors. Some are limited to using simple social network questions, but there are tools and techniques that include other factors such as the number of affiliations people belong to in order to gauge the “reach” of the person, and the degree to which people engage with the product / service segment.
Create a contagious experience
Once you have this segment, the second challenge is to create the right sort of “experience” and resulting “story”, that these connectors will pass on to their extensive networks. Ideally the experience of using your product or service can generate the story for you. Skype’s free telephony service is a good example because once you use it, you want your friends to use it to, so that the value of the product increases. Metcalf’s law states that as the number of users doubled, the value of the network quadrupled.
Enable the word to spread
Successful word of mouth requires a reason to pass it on, whether that be an incentive for the connector or just the fact that by passing it helps to add value to the receiver. Remember the Hotmail tag line of “get your free email” went with every email making this a particularly fast spreading tool. The tiny Japanese stickers that you get from a photo booth gave you 16 copies, thereby encouraging you to give them to your friends.
So, what can you do to improve the speed at which your product unique selling points get noticed and spread?