|The Kinane Homestead|
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
It's a Whole New 'World of Mouth'
This June we will celebrate 20 years as the quasi-owners of the home in which we live. I say quasi-owners because there remain a few years on our mortgage.
Over the past two decades, I've come to know the men, women and families that live around us. Some of them have become "go-to" friends when we need help, information or advice. Chris is the consummate neighborhood consigliere. Need an electrician, plumber, painter? He can make a call and get you to the right contractor. Janet always has good ideas for something to do or buy when we feel like splurging on ourselves. Her husband, Jeff, is the ultimate car guy, and we've sent friends to him for advice on what to buy and, more importantly, what not to buy. What I've described here are just some of the men and women we rely on for recommendations and advice. We've come to trust them, through trial and error, good times and bad.
Easier to Connect = Easier to Share
It's the importance of relationships like these, and the ease with which we can ask for and share information via social media, that Erik Qualman says in Chapter 5 of his Socialnomics has helped move us "from word-of-mouth to World-of-Mouth" marketing (2013, pg. 80). The concept Qualman promotes it that, where much of the information we get today comes to us via the power of Internet search giants like Google, the information, advice and recommendations we get via our social networks will one today usurp search in informing us as we make decisions about purchases and other of life's decisions (2013, pg 75). Just as social media and networking has made it easier for us to connect more regularly with a wider network of people than we might otherwise, so too does it mean that we can exercise that network to help us get valuable information when we need it.
The Power of Peer Recommendations
The impact of this changing nature can be critical for marketers, as research has found that peer recommendations increase the preference for an option, even when the recommender is recognized as not being an "expert" on the matter being reviewed (D. Smith, S. Menon & K. Sivakumar, 2005, pg 26). This also dovetails with other research that validates the idea that consumers today find more credible the information produced by fellow consumers than that produced by the brand-owner (Mir & Zaheer, 2012).
In addition to personal social networks, Qualman drives home the point that sites like TripAdvisor and Angie's List that aggregate opinion, ideas and ratings are finding new ways to bring value to consumers. What these companies realize, according to Qualman, is that they no longer own relationships with consumers and that, instead, the consumers themselves are the owners and willingly share that power among themselves (pg. 83).
So, when just this evening my wife declined to buy a rug online because it "only had 3 1/2 stars," Socialnomics again hit home. I wonder what my neighbors would think?
Mir, I. & Zaheer, A. (2012). Verification of social impact theory claims in social media content. Journal of Internet Banking and Commerce,17(1), 1-15. Ottowa, CA: Array Development.
Smith, D., Menon, S. & Sivakumar, K. (2005). Online peer and editorial recommendations, trust, and choice in virtual markets. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 19(3), 15-37. Wiley InterScience. doi: 10.1002dir.20041
Qualman, E. (2013). Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.