Matthew Williams
by on September 30, 2017
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Once consumers are aware and engaged, they are in a position to communicate their opinions to other consumers. Satisfied and
loyal consumers communicate their positive attitudes toward the brand itself or toward the social application created by the company (be it a Facebook application or group, a Twitter presence, a blog or a YouTube video) to new, prospective customers both online and offline. Dissatisfied and disgruntled customers may also share their negative attitudes toward the brand or poor social applications, as when technology journalist Jeff Jarvis blogged in 2005 about the shoddy customer service he received from Dell — his own “Dell Hell” that spread like wildfire on the Internet and mainstream media — and Dell saw its customer satisfaction score drop five points in one year.10

On the positive side, Japanese gaming company Square Enix started an online community to stir up interest in its North American release of Sony’s Playstation 2 video game “Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.” The North American online community was a success, drawing more than 14,000 members to join its forum, with 30% recruited via word of mouth from existing members; 40% of the online community pre-ordered the game. By the end of 2009, the video game had sold 510,000 units in North America.

In 2009, Burger King asked members of its “Whopper Sacrifice” Facebook application to un-friend 10 of their Facebook friends in exchange for a free sandwich. Though later pulled, the reverse wordof- mouth campaign resulted in members unfriending a total of 234,000 Facebook friends. These abandoned friends monitored by the application received alerts informing them that they had been sacrificed for a Whopper. The offbeat campaign resulted in significant word of mouth for Burger King.

Traditionally, companies can estimate word of mouth through surveys that measure the likelihood of recommendation or can use customer satisfaction, loyalty and purchase likelihood as proxies for word of mouth, but online, word of mouth can be measured directly. More sophisticated methodologies are often required to measure word of mouth because a significant amount can occur either offline or online via private communication, where direct measurement is impossible. User-generated content can also embed consumers’ favorite brands (such as in a video on YouTube or a photo posted on Flickr) and contribute to word of mouth — and companies can organize such experiences on behalf of their consumers. For example, Atrapalo.com, one of Spain’s leading online travel agencies, included on its site a way for consumers to share travel videos and customer photos.

Why You Want to Do It This Way

The advantage of starting with consumer motivations, as opposed to trying to figure out what social media application to use, is that it makes clear how seemingly disparate applications are actually quite similar if they share the same underlying motivations for use. This makes the job of creating integrated marketing campaigns not only less overwhelming for the manager but also much more closely tied to online consumer behavior. In other words, the question is not whether to blog or tweet, but what objectives need to be achieved and which set of tools with their corresponding metrics can best achieve them.
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