Has word-of-mouth been replaced by word-of-text?

Today, I stumbled upon a blog by Dan Wool, a regular contributor to the Valley PR Blog, about Jeff Goodman’s launch of his new word-of-mouth marketing company, Blabbermouth. Goodman, a former actor and New Media Director of the Arizona Democratic Party, created Blabbermouth after recognizing the importance and benefit of a strong word-of-mouth reputation.

This got me thinking of the irony of a company called Blabbermouth that I have only heard about via text on the Internet. Which then got me thinking about how overwhelming social media can be to a college student set to graduate in May.  Being part of the generation that has grown up with Internet, email, cell phones and text messaging is seems almost natural that we would adapt to the world of social media with no sweat.

Unfortunately, in my case, it has taken slightly more effort.  With new memberships to WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Myspace and Delicious, it has become quite a balancing act. But the thing that has me worried the most is, once in the professional world, will this balancing act become easier? Is it more effective to connect to a reporter through Twitter or by sending a press release? Is pitching a story in person a thing of the past or a method that is not used enough? Are people to busy building and sustaining relationships over the Internet that they no longer have time for face-to-face or word-of-mouth conversations, or with so many social media outlets to choose from is it just unnecessary?

I was told by a former professor that in being a new graduate, one of the most valuable aspects we have to market ourselves is our keen sense of social media. That being said, will I be the one who answers all of these questions? Am I going to have a part in determining if social media has more collateral than older avenues of public relations campaigning?

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11 Responses to Has word-of-mouth been replaced by word-of-text?

  1. drgilpin says:

    I like that you picked up on a post and used that point to reflect on a larger theme: good job. As for social media, it’s all a question of habit. You don’t necessarily have to be personally active in every single venue, but you need to know what’s out there and, ideally, know people you can turn to who are experts in the various areas and can give you good advice when needed.

  2. blabbermouthaz says:

    Really great post. I’m flattered that you used Blabbermouth as an example. You’re right, Word of Mouth (WOM) is really not describing only voice conversations, but is a term used to describe all of the tools that are used in customer evangelism. I’d just like to clarify my take on the difference between offline and online WOM.
    There is no question that offline Word of Mouth is the most authentic and persuasive. Social media is a tool that we use to generate and/or amplify WOM, but it is only a tool. The most effective WOM, in my opinion combines the two. Let me explain.
    Offline WOM, like I said, is effective, but it’s reach is limited. Social media allows you to expand the reach exponentially. So, if you can start the conversation face-to-face and then give consumers the online tools to share that experience more broadly, you are going to make that communication go a lot further. Sure, the authenticity may be degraded as the conversation gets further away from its origin — but, maybe not. And, it’s out there.
    Conversely, offline WOM can be enhanced by seeding information online before the conversation. You can provide information through the use of internet and social media tools to make sure the customer is well informed as he/she shares face-to-face.
    I posted a blog last week about an authentic offline WOM experience I had that I believe was enhanced by online interaction: http://blabbermouthaz.com/blog/?p=108
    I’m glad you stumbled upon Blabbermouth… It is a brand new company, so hopefully – in time – you will be hearing more about me offline as well. But in the meantime, feel free to get in touch with me through one of your many social media memberships. Or, my contact info is on my Web site. http://www.BlabbermouthAZ.com
    Best of luck to you as you graduate. If I can help in any way, please let me know.

  3. mlmyers says:

    That makes sense, but do you think there are certain social media sites that are a must for people in our field? Most of the people I’ve talked to have Twitter, but less people have Facebook. In your professional career have you found any outlet particularly useful or necessary?

  4. blabbermouthaz says:

    It just depends on who you are trying to reach. If your targets are on Facebook, then that’s a good place to go… but if your research shows that isn’t where your customers are then figure out where they are and how to reach them. The nice thing about Twitter is that its users (although fewer than some other outlets) tend to be very socially media savvy and well connected… So, if you give them the right kind of info, they may repost it not only on Twitter but to their other networks as well.
    As far as what I find useful or necessary, again go where your targets are, but you can’t ignore the power of online video to convey a message. But, rather than just streaming video on a site, I think it’s really important to use a tool like YouTube (or vimeo, etc) because it makes it that much easier for people to share (post the link on Facebook, e-mail link, or use the embed code on any variety of sites).

    All of that said, social media is just a media outlet. If you don’t start with a quality message and offer things that people want to share it won’t go anywhere – no different than trying to pitch an un-newsworthy story to the news media.

  5. drgilpin says:

    It depends on your clients or field, and what their stakeholders use. In some areas it will be all about MySpace, others Facebook, others Twitter… there’s no universal answer.

  6. mlmyers says:

    Thank you for the tips and good luck with Blabbermouth! Like I said I am still trying to master all of these social media outlets so I appreciate the offer to help, and will more than likely take you up on that in the future!

  7. elwhite2 says:

    Because we are the next generation of PR professionals with an expertise in social media, I think we will be determining whether we reach people directly or through the internet. I would have to agree though, all of these social media accounts are somewhat overwhelming but they definitely give us the upper hand. Now that we have all mastered Facebook, we are forced to move on an expand to the other social media networks. Meanwhile, there are still so many people who haven’t even caught on to Facebook. I think we under estimate exactly media savvy we are.

  8. drgilpin says:

    Underestimate, or overestimate?

  9. mlmyers says:

    I think that is a good point that we may not fully understand our potential. There are things that I do every day on MySpace or Facebook that may take someone, who didn’t grow up with the technology, a week. It is important to cut ourselves some slack and not expect that we master everything right away.

  10. kparma says:

    I think social media is here to stay, but I agree with Dr. Gilpin when she said we don’t necessarily need to be completely active with each site. I think that we should learn how to use the sites that are going to help us the most in our careers and in our field in general. The networking and contacts you can get from these sites are amazing. As someone who was somewhat against sites like MySpace and Facebook for awhile, I have found that they are extremely helpful for staying in touch with friends and family, as well as making connections with people, which could prove to be beneficial in the future. Who knows, we might in fact be sending press releases via Twitter in the future.

  11. jejepson says:

    Like a few others have said, I do too believe that social media is here to stay. Just like the working world had to adapt to include email, it now has to adapt to include social media. Although, I do not think that every avenue of social media is applicable in every business situations. Like kparma said, each business or organization needs to evaluate their uses of social media and utilize the applications that would be most beneficial to their over all goal. At this point I am finding all of the different social media applications to be overwhelming, but I think in time that me, and society, will be accustomed to them; just as we have cell phones, the internet, text messaging and email.

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