Social thinking through word-of-mouse marketing
It would be way to obvious to write about how marketing has evolved and how traditional media is no longer reaching or influencing audiences (particularly upcoming Gen Y & Gen Z), and in order penetrate & capture this market, marketers need to think ‘social’ and present their messages in a new way – Oops I just did.
In order to do so, many companies are turning to a stealthy strategy known as buzz marketing, otherwise known as viral marketing. These terms are used to describe when brands become part of popular culture and consumers themselves are lured into spreading the message. They turn their brands into carefully guarded secrets that they reveal to only a knowing few in each community. Each carefully cultivated recipient of the brand message becomes a powerful carrier, spreading the word to yet more carriers, who tell a few more and so on.
For example, think of the Kim Kardashian and her endless amount of endorsements. Although a twat, she is a powerful carrier and gets the message across to her fans. Even a simple tweet about a product has the power of reaching 20.2 million of her followers. This strategy is often referred to as ‘word-of-mouth’, but as this is all happening online, its’ word-of-mouse’ (see what we did there?).
New generations are quick to judge and are not afraid to call you out on your bullshit, no matter who your brand is. Therefore the goal of the marketer is to find the trendsetters in each community and push them into talking about their product to their friends and admirers (without being obvious that it’s your brand behind it). Ultimately, the brand benefits because an accepted member of the social circle will always be far more credible than any communication that could come directly from the brand.
It’s about social thinking, which James Nester (UK creative director at We Are Social) defines in his article in Marketing Mag as not meaning Facebook and Twitter tactics but ideas based on an understanding of social behaviour. “It’s about big ideas that people want to share, talk about, get involved with and belong to will be the way forward for future” (Nester 2014). Nester goes on to add, “instead of coming up with a big ‘broadcast’ idea and socialising it, come up with a big ‘social’ idea and broadcast it!”
However, many experts believe buzz marketing can die quickly as once everyone does it, it’s no longer buzz; it’s simply obscure and annoying advertising. When consumers recognise that companies are trying to create a buzz for their brand, without admitting their involvement, they are likely to be turned off to the technique. For example, the fake viral video of a hopeless romantic girl looking for a man who left behind his jacket in a café, which ended up just being Witchery just trying to launch their new menswear range.
By then, of course, marketers will have found yet another way to deliver their sales messages.