Monday, April 30, 2007

Anne McGrath's Reflection Essay

Context for this post

In documenting three WOM experiences throughout the semester, I learned a number of things about the way in which we communicate about brands, how I personally make recommendations and the way in which I receive information from my conversational partners, and what forms of word of mouth sparked my interest.

Through this exercise, I now understand that much of what stems conversation about brands are bad experiences with the brand. Originally, I thought a media advertisement would provoke conversation about a brand most of the time, but in my experience, this rarely was the reason. My first recorded WOM communication was done because a friend of mine had a horrible experience with Comcast. I immediately thought of the online viral video we looked at in class showing the Comcast repair man sleeping on the customer’s couch. This reinforced my idea that Comcast had poor customer service and I began to think of other companies to bring my business to in the future. I found that I spread this information to my social networks encouraging them to steer clear of Comcast and providing both the video and my friend’s experience as examples why.

I found throughout the three recorded experiences, that I was the one listening to my conversational partner vent about a bad experience with a company. I found that I kept my bad opinions to myself generally, but listened with interest as others told me their horror stories about Comcast, a local realty company, and Victoria’s Secret. In retrospect, I would consider myself a “generation 2” influencer. I’m not typically the one spreading information from my personal experience out to social networks. Rather, I take into account what I hear from various sources and spread that message onto other people. Therefore, according to much of what we’ve discussed this semester, I am not an influencer. But, I also don’t feel like I should be forgotten by word of mouth marketing companies. The influencer’s message is passed along because of people like me.

It is particularly interesting that the more negative the WOMunit, the higher amount of people I spread it onto. I recall learning about the Comcast blunder and telling many of my friends about it because it made an impact in conversation and I believed they could relate to the experience. As we’re all students at Northeastern, most of us use Comcast because of a student discount. Therefore, many of my friends were interested to hear about this person’s negative experience because it may someday directly affect them. The Victoria’s Secret word of mouth episode was more neutral, and therefore I did not pass it on to many people because it would have made a boring conversation. My last reported word of mouth episode happened just recently. Since it took place, I have told many other people about the situation my roommates and I have dealt with, only to find that other students have encountered the same problem. We were interested to hear their story and compare it with ours.