'Word Of Mouth' To 'Word Of Mouse' Marketing

The power of the web to promote business by marrying social media to the traditional concept of ‘Word of Mouth’ is called ‘Word of Mouse’

The need for human connection is right there in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and has been a psychological truth for the human species for ages. Humans have a deep-rooted desire to be part of communities where they are accepted and have opportunities to contribute. Social media is simply a new tool to meet the innate need for human connection. Social connections and collaboration are at the center of human desire and motivation. Before the day of the telephone, people fulfilled their need for social connection by physically meeting up to have face-to-face conversations. Once the telephone was invented, humans used the phone to chat with friends at a distance. Again, when technological constraints changed with the invention of the internet, people started using social media to satisfy their need for human connection. These new behaviours- using the mobile or texting instead of talking face-to-face- are simply novel ways that allow people to act on existing desires, motivations, and goals. There is nothing fundamentally new about social technologies; social media platforms and face-to-face interactions are functionally the same and technology has facilitated the human desires, motivations, and goals to develop networks and relationships on virtual platforms.

The power of the web to promote business by marrying social media to the traditional concept of ‘Word of Mouth’ is called ‘Word of Mouse’. Today’s digital media has created a new channel of communication that reaches the consumer through social media termed as - ‘Word of Mouse’ or ‘Word of Web’ marketing. The social media platforms are creating new opportunities for marketing in all industries and market sectors and have enabled all companies large and small to have a more direct personalized experience with consumers and affect the purchasing decisions of other consumers.

Word of Mouse marketing is a more powerful and effective tool as compared to Word of Mouth because over 4 billion people use social media each month or 50% of the total global population. Moreover, it’s growing: every day, one million people, try social media for the first time. Social media has become so ingrained in the way people communicate and live; it will be challenging for people to not use social media in one way or another. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, and many other platforms have become a significant part of people’s lives of all generations, around the world. The average daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide amounted to 145 minutes per day and Indian users spent in line with the global average (Global Web Index's Social Media Trends 2019 report).

According to Gartner estimates, Technology now accounts for 29% of total marketing expense budgets, and digital advertising spend was $385 billion in 2020. An effective social media strategy requires the organizations to identify the right target audience and got to research where the audience hangs out online and what message will resonate with them. Social media is now real-time, immediate value-add information and will take the business to new levels faster than ever. Each social media site has different user demographics, psychographics, and the content must be reshaped to match perfectly with the platform on which it will be posted. Some social media channels are best for sharing short, current updates (Twitter), others are better for delivering video content (YouTube), some reach a younger audience with pictures (Instagram), and others have younger audiences with multimedia and high engagement rates (Snapchat). The best social media plans deliver content that's optimized for each channel. The company must engage the target audience on the channels they use with content that is unique to the channel. Select social channels that fit the brand message, type of content, and target audience. The characteristics of popular social media platforms are given below to help marketers in choosing the right content and the target audience.




Launch: 2004

Users: 1.9 billion daily active users worldwide

Audience: Generation X and millennials

Industry: B2C

Best for: Brand awareness; advertising

Launch: 2006

Users: 206 million daily active users worldwide

Audience: Primarily millennials

Industry: B2B and B2C

Best for: Public relations; customer service

Launch: 2010

Users: 1 billion monthly active users

Audience: Primarily millennials

Industry: B2C

Best for: Natural-looking media, behind-the-scenes, and user-generated content; advertising




Launch: 2003

Users: 690 million monthly active users worldwide

Audience: Baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials

Industry: B2B

Best for: B2B relationships, business development, and employment marketing

Launch: 2005

Users: Over 2 billion logged-in monthly users worldwide

Audience: Millennials, closely followed by Generation Z.

Industry: B2C

Best for: Brand awareness; entertainment, and how-to videos

Launch: 2011

Users: 280 million daily active users worldwide

Audience: Primarily Generation Z

Industry: B2C

Best for: Brand awareness; advertising

Source: https://www.statista.com;

For instance, Nike the biggest sports brand having a value near $30 billion makes excellent use of social media. With over 93.3 million Instagram followers, 8.1 million Twitter followers, 35.2 million Facebook followers, and a ton of engagement, this brand is no doubt one of the best brands on social media today. Focusing on its athletes and sports teams instead of the product itself, Nike has drawn its audience’s attention to the people who make the brand. This is evident in their use of their social media platforms. Nike uses Facebook sparingly, specifically for their big campaigns. This is possibly due to Facebook’s algorithm that prioritizes posts from family and friends on the users’ feeds.

Nike’s Facebook account still has a substantial number of followers, but their Instagram account is where a lot of their fans go for inspiration. This company posts high-quality images of their athletes in action, videos of people working on their fitness, and a lot more. Nike also uses consistent filters and their popular hashtags, like #justdoit. Nike uses their Twitter account to answer questions or address concerns. Aside from that, they also opened a separate Twitter handle for their customer service.

Psychologists have discovered that when consumers perceive a high social or psychological risk of the purchase, they would search for credible information that is more diagnostic or referential from a source they believe to be reliable and has not been generated by companies to sway them.

After all, who would like to traverse through a pot-holed road when they had the option of flying through the highway?

The consumer research found that 90% of customers trust opinions and recommendations from people they know, and 70% trust consumer reviews posted online. The young millennials and older Gen Z consumers trust online reviews more than the opinions of friends and family. From a business perspective, all buyers can be influenced heavily by word-of-mouse reviews either positive or negative. Customers with positive experiences will spread the ‘word’ to their network of friends and family members, which can be good for the growth of business and those who have had bad experiences will share their negative stories as well, hence organizations need to avoid the negative and bad reviews circulated online since this can be a “kiss-of-death” for them. One of the worst things a business can do is to ignore their online reviews and social media posts.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently -Warren Buffett.

Businesses must manage their online reputation by monitoring the online reviews and social media posts on regular basis and can mitigate the degree of damage that can occur. For long-term consumer monitoring, marketers can look into social media monitoring services, such as Hootsuite, or HubSpot. Live dashboards show streams from multiple social accounts, keeping marketers aware of hashtags and brand mentions. To find the most influential people in the target audience, look to tools such as Klout, which measures an individual’s online impact.

As social media takes center stage in a post-pandemic marketing world, it needs to integrate more seamlessly with the company’s broader marketing strategy. To produce greater synergy social media strategy must directly align with overall marketing strategy to maximize the benefits for the organization.

Whether your company’s social media presence is lacking? Change your thinking to believe that there is a return on investment in Likes, Shares, and Comments?

The Author is Dr Anupam Narula, Professor, Trainer, and Consultant of Marketing at Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh  

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