Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Launch of New Blog: Teaching Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication

I am excited to announce a new blog dedicated to teaching word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral marketing communication concepts, strategies, and ethics.

Broadly, the purpose is to educate and help people learn about WOM, buzz, and viral marketing. More narrowly, this blog will also support a special topics class I will be teaching at Northeastern University in the Department of Communication Studies, first summer session (May and June 2006).

I will be posting to this blog as I design and teach the course. I welcome and encourage feedback throughout!

Here is the course description:

CMNU914 -- Special Topics in Organizational Communication: Word-of-Mouth, Buzz, and Viral Marketing Communication

Have you ever loved a company, product, or idea so much that you couldn’t wait to tell others about it? Seen a horrible movie lately and told your friends not to go? Tried a new type of food because a friend suggested it? Heard a story about a town that named themselves after a start-up internet company? Passed along an e-mail about a funky chicken you can command at your will? Posted or read an online review to a consumer website? If you answered yes to any of these questions you engaged in word-of-mouth communication and may have also wittingly or unwittingly participated in an organized word-of-mouth, buzz, or viral marketing campaign.

Word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral marketing is a hot topic now as organizations of all kinds – for-profits, not-for-profits, academic institutions, you name it – struggle to break through a mediascape cluttered with advertisements, deal with a growing distrust of corporate-affiliated messages, figure out a consumer market that demands greater control and engagement, and try to understand how new communication technologies amplify peer-to-peer communication and influence, both in the online and offline worlds.

The purpose of this course is to introduce advanced undergraduate students to the word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral marketing industry. Students will learn about the theories and practices that inform this industry through readings of popular press books and academic journal articles, guest lectures from leading industry figures, analysis of existing word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral marketing campaigns, analysis of key companies operating in the word-of-mouth space, and learning industry best practices in designing, executing, and measuring organizationally-facilitated attempts to manage word-of-mouth and consumer generated media.

Specific topics include:

· Terminology issues: distinguishing word-of-mouth, buzz, and viral from other marketing and advertising practices
· Similarities and differences between organic (everyday) and amplified (institutionally-facilitated or sponsored) word-of-mouth.
· Historical overview of academic research on word-of-mouth
· How peer influence works. Are there really a small, select group of people who lead the rest of the population’s opinions? What is the role of relationship networks?
· Tracking online and offline word-of-mouth
· Metrics used to measure word-of-mouth and determine ROI
· How to build principles of effective word-of-mouth into business practices
· WOM as short-term activity verus a long-term strategy
· Emergence of the word-of-mouth industry associations
· Ethical controversies surrounding the industry: commercialization of chit-chat, undercover and stealth marketing, shilling

Pre-Requisites: Middler-year and above

Registration Information:

Course Number: CMNU914
Key Number: 11048
Sequence: 2 (M-Th 9:50 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.)
Semester: Summer I


TheChad said...

I am very excited for this class! Summer 1 is my last semester at NU, and I truly am glad this class appeared for it.

I was in Perren's Method's class when we participated in your study- and I think it is great that a class was formed to go more in depth.

See you in Summer1!

-Chad C

Walter Carl said...

Thanks for your interest in the course Chad and I look forward to seeing you in Summer 1! In the meantime please help get the word out to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the course. You can easily e-mail them the course description and registration information.

By the way, the results from the study you participated in for Professor Perren's Research Methods class are available at my research blog Word-of-Mouth Communication Study.

Dr. Carl

Gary Stein said...

that's so cool. You know those dreams you have where you wake up all panicky, because you think you're still in college? This is the antidote to that. I'd love to take this class!

Walter Carl said...

Thanks Gary! Would love to have you involved in some way :-)