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SOCIAL MEDIA: Wake up to word-of-mouth

Word-of-mouth marketing isn't a new concept. Traditional public relations, for example, where a journalist is asked to write about a brand - is a classic form of word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. More recently, however, marketers have begun to discover ways of circumventing the journalist so that the potential customer receives recommendations or mentions from an even more trusted source: friends, colleagues, suppliers, clients and contacts. This shift in tactic ultimately helps to create a buzz around a brand by encouraging as many people as possible to get talking about it.

It is easy to see why marketers are so excited about this. Danny Whatmough, PR consultant at Wildfire PR suggests, "In many ways, WOM is the nirvana of marketing. Personal recommendation has been shown to be the most influential medium because we trust our close friends and acquaintances. This trust means that we are powerfully influenced by their recommendations or advice."

New impetus
The recent enthusiasm for WOM marketing has been given greater impetus by some of the major business trends of our time. The first trend is shrinking marketing budgets. The global recession slashed most marketers' budgets, and made us keener to find techniques that reduce our dependence on old-style advertising and direct marketing, but still produce the same number of sales leads and new customers.