Word of Mouth Marketing in a Social Web

Is this your Marketing Strategy?

Is this your Marketing Strategy?

Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) is what most real estate agents are referring to when they say they are “Working by Referral” or “Sphere” related business.  This is the oldest and generally the most regarded form of marketing because it depends on a personal and typically genuine recommendation from one consumer (or provider) to another.

As defined by Wikipedia:

Word of mouth is a reference to the passing of information from person to person. Originally the term referred specifically to oral communication[1] (literally words from the mouth), but now includes any type of human communication, such as face to face, telephone, email, and text messaging.

With the invent of Twitter, Facebook and blogs these mediums have allowed for “more” recommendations, (through RT, Link sharing, Posting, and Online Reviews).  The question becomes:

  • Has this increase in WOMM QUANTITY taken away from the QUALITY of an actual referral?


  • Have the “identities” attached to these recommendations (profiles, online identities, Open ID’s, etc) substantiated these claims?

This question is one that demands a much deeper discussion and understanding, and not where I want to go with this post.

However, the idea of WOMM can be explained best visually through a recent post by David Armano who ran a contest for the best visual representation of Word of Mouth Marketing.  The winner, Mario Vellandi, submitted the entry below.


David and I were both impressed with the same breaking down into Promoters, Passives and Detractors.  This is a classic case of the saying, “bad experiences tell 10 people”.   Overall this is a great representation of the overall WOMM model.

What I WOULD like to see is how could be analyzed using today’s metric models.  Let’s say that more and more of the WOMM is NOT actually done via “mouth” but done via highly-viral technology platforms like Twitter, CitySearch, and others.  If a disgruntled recipient “used” to tell 10 people, how broad is their reach NOT with Social Media and online review sites?  Isn’t the actual effect magnified by a power of 100?

This only amplifies the need for a serious listening model to be overlying the tech world in a “comcastcares” format.  Imagine, based on this model alone, if one of the Detractor’s concerns had been addressed immediately


By addressing the conern of one Detractor, the individuals could have prevented an entire chain of eventual Detractors from forming, thus maintaining his/her brand reputation.  Listening is the key here and a strategy that should be implemented immediately through Twitter, Google Alerts, and other programs.

WOMM is still THE most respected and effective form of marketing available, but with the power of the web, could turn against you in a minute’s time.  With proper prepartation, message creation, and simple analyzation of past messages for improvements, etc. many of the common pitfalls we face could be avoided.

Summary: Start with creating a solid “brand aware” message before broadcasting and then keep your eyes and ears peeled.

Matt Dollinger