Complement Consumers’ Social Habits to Spread WOM

By Affinitive

Word-of-Mouth is a fickle beast. It is difficult to trigger WOM for a product, but it is even harder to determine how the word will be spread, how the message changes, and who it will reach as it goes from one generation of consumers to the next.

Keller Fay Group released research showing that 90% of WOM conversations occur offline and only 7% occur online. For marketers targeting the online space, this was a hard finding to swallow as it suggested that opportunities were being missed in a space where WOM is difficult to measure.

Our solutions at Affinitive focus mostly online, so at first glance it seems perhaps we were focusing on the wrong space. In our programs, we ask participants to self-report the number of times they are involved in conversations related to the product or brand of interest and whether those conversations occurred online or offline. I gathered results from 8 of our past programs in the video game industry. The results showed that only 37% of WOM happened offline for participants of the program, a marked difference from the 90% presented earlier:

WOM — Offline vs. Online

So, what is happening here? I think there are three Ps in play:

  • Person (Who is being targeted?)
  • Place (How are they being targeted?)
  • Product (What is being talked about?).

Depending on how and where a program is executed has effects on where the WOM happens. We found an online-rich personality is often a major psychographic trait of video game consumers. Noting this, we were able to to augment their natural social engagements with product-related WOM encompassing specialized strategies designed to keep participants online.

If you want to target people who feel more comfortable in the online space, then use that to your advantage. Offer tools and ideas to spread the word online. Integrate your program into the environment with which your consumers are most comfortable. Tactics developed for a program must complement both audience and product.