What Happened to Word-Of-Mouth Marketing?

Malcolm Gladwell’s article Small Change hit home for me with the opening story, which was about a protest organized strictly by word-of-mouth. The protest started with a few people, and quickly grew to thousands. What amazes me is that this protest was organized without the usage of social media, or the internet…. Now I’d like to know what happened to this word-of-mouth type of marketing?

With the increased usage of websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, businesses and consumers are beginning to lose touch with word-of-mouth marketing. Now, I’m not saying social media sites are a bad way of marketing products, but lately it seems that it is the only way many products are marketed. Is it that as business people we are becoming lazier? Or trying to target certain markets? BusinessWeek put out an article about the myths of Social Media Marketing and basically they say run the other way; and I completely agree.

One of the biggest concerns is the amount of time a company has to put into creating the site, and then updating it almost daily; on top of that, a person must be trained so that he/she can manage the website. According to an article by Gavin O’Malley, there is almost no point in creating a social media site. A survey showed that

“While 78% percent of corporate respondents say their company is using social media, only 41% say they have a strategic plan in place to guide such activity, according to a new study from marketing firm Digital Brand Expressions.”

Now to me this is a pretty sad statistic. With all the effort put into expanding social media marketing, and not even knowing if there will be a Return On Investment (ROI) from the website, it seems that marketers can revert back to word-of-mouth and other forms of marketing.

           The book Journalism Next tells why a reporter or journalist should use Social Media. The book does point out that one can’t just join a social media site without a plan in tact, but because of all the information that comes into reporters’, social media can be a good way to get that news out there. There are many good reasons to join a social media website, such as Twitter, especially if you are a journalist who would like to network with other fellow journalists.

           I do agree that social media can be a good way to get the news out there for journalists and it is a way to reach more articles and information. I believe word-of-mouth marketing is different for journalists because people are going to want to read what they want to and not necessarily listen to a friend that recommends a certain article.

           My belief and hope is that businesses don’t wipe social media out completely, but that they continue to instill the usage of word-of-mouth marketing, and slow down on social media marketing unless the ROI is showing improving numbers. As Social Media becomes increasingly popular businesses and consumers will have to adapt to new marketing styles to compete with each other.

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    Based on my experienced as social media marketer I learned facebook and twitter from word of mouth– at least not in marketing my products. My philosophical belief then and now with this so called social media or without this social media, word of mouth is still at work literally.

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