Word of mouth – an essential ingredient

  1. word-of-mouth

An essential issue for any project is word-of-mouth. This is doubly true today, when second screen, social media and multiplatform are natural factors to take into consideration in any kind of project one might be working on. The volatile nature of the media world today means that the projects’ eventual success is often quite dependent on audience engagement and interaction. With regards to this, there are few things as effective as word-of-mouth marketing to foster audience engagement.

To quote Mike Arauz – ”I tell my friends about your brand, not because I like your brand but because I like my friends.” This is where you want your project to fit in. It should be something so good that people feel they are doing their friends a service by sharing it with them. This again all goes back to the content, the story and the execution.

I’ve been reading up quite a bit on audience engagement and word-of-mouth over the past few years, as studies are cropping up right and left nowadays. One study I stumbled upon was quite intriguing. It’s a study about word-of-mouth marketing from last year from Search Engine Land and the article is by Corey Eridon.

One interesting note, for instance, is the type of businesses that are likely to be recommended through word of mouth. It turned out cafés and restaurants are more than doubly certain to be word-of-mouth:ed than for instance car hire firms or wedding shops. Why? Simply because they get visited a lot more frequently. Visited in real-life, that is, but that doesn’t mean your project or your service couldn’t get visited VIRTUALLY a lot more often than it is.

What to take from this as a producer? Remember to NEVER GO DARK. Always strive to have something new or semi-new available for your audience to experience and share onwards.

The three highest scoring variables when looking at why people would recommend a business were ”friendly & welcoming”, ”reliable & professional” and ”cheap at the price.” Granted, this is for companies and brands, and not media content and media projects. What I as a producer feel I can take from this is the need to do proper UX research. I must not confuse the user. I must not alienate the audience. I must not charge for something that everyone assumes will be for free.

Lastly, adding an incentive for the user to share your project onwards will increase the likelihood they will do so. While ”asking them to share onwards” had only a 16% impact on word of mouth activity, a whopping 75% stated yes or maybe to promoting a business if there was a personal incentive. What I’m taking from this is a leaf out of the crowdfunding book – have one level where the first 100 or 500 or 10000 to recommend your project will receive something. An exclusive download, a badge, perhaps even something physical.

There are, of course, a great number of articles and studies on word-of-mouth-marketing out there. I would strongly suggest that any producer in the second screen, multiplatform, cross media, transmedia or interactive field would acquaintance themselves with some of the studies and the case studies. It can only help whatever project you find yourself working on.


About the Author

Simon Staffans

Simon Staffans

Content developer. Cross media, transmedia, social media, brand integration etc. Television, online, mobile.. Consulting, developing, lecturing etc.