Jonah Berger and Eric Schwartz recently published a in-depth look at Word of Mouth Marketing. WOM as they refer to it. A copy of the document can be found here
When we think about Word of Mouth Marketing, we often believe that the more crazy, shocking, or interesting a product, event, or service is the more likely it that it will be picked up in word of mouth marketing and spread from person to person.
The research showed that Interest wasn't the key factor in driving Word of Mouth Marketing. Rather, Accessibility was more important. Seeing something and being reminded of it on a continualy basis dramatically increased the chances that a particular item would be discussed.
The research discussed Time Horizons that exist for Word of Mouth marketing events. But to be clear, an event doesn't have to be an actual event or activity. An event could be the launch of a new product, the release of an announcement, or any other thing that triggers a chance for conversation to occur.
Tent Poles of Conversation
A time horizon surrounding an event is the length of time that a topic will continue to generate conversation after the event has passed. I refer to this idea as Tent Poles of Conversation.
Think about an event that would generate a significant amount of discussion.
As the time approaches for the event, the amount of discussion and talk increases, like a tent pole climbing higher into the air. Then, when the event occurs, there is a dropping off of conversation. The length of time between the event itself and the end of conversation is referred to as the Time Horizon.
It is true that the more memorable an event, the longer the conversation, but that isn't the primary driver of the conversation. It is the accessibility after the event to aspects of what happened that continue to drive the conversation.
This is called Accessibility. Being exposed to the idea, thought, concept, event, product, or whatever. Seeing it more often leads to better word of mouth than having it be unique, crazy, or shocking.
Rather than have a big center Tent pole that you drive forward with word of mouth, instead, a smaller series of tent poles of conversation allow you to keep the discussion going longer.
Social Media and Word of Mouth
Social media gives word of mouth a much bigger boost and should change the tactics used to drive Word of Mouth Marketing. Rather than go for a big announcement with everthing tied to the single Tent Pole conversation, instead, spread it out, set smaller targets of conversation. Tweeting small wins on a constant basis will generate much more awareness than a single announcement.
Updating your blog, Facebook page, or YouTube channel with a series of posts rather than a single larger one, gives your followers and fans a reminder to talk about you and your products.
The time horizon for small events can stretch much further into the future.
Word of Mouth does not have to be random marketing that is out of your control. A series of specific targeted conversation starters can keep your brand, product, or company in the minds of your prospects for a long time.