Monday, April 30, 2007

Holly Jackson's Reflection Essay

Context for this post

Word of mouth interactions take place on a daily basis. So much so, that we barely differentiate them from normal, everyday conversations with friends. However, even though we may not realize it, I have learned that we all hold the power to influence our peers through conversations and interactions by simply becoming more aware of the WOM episodes I engage in with others.

I realized that most of my word of mouth episodes took place with my closest friends, those people being the ones I interact with the most and who tend to share my interests. In times when I was receiving a recommendation, it was crucial that I was interacting with someone who I trust to recommend something worth my time to follow-up with. However, I did notice that there were a few times when I found myself urging people, with whom I have just met, to try out something. Though these instances were somewhat rare, I had to be relatively new to the product or service myself and highly enthused by it as well in order to be recommending something to someone I barely know.

Most of my interactions also took place with a single person. Since most of them came up within casual, unplanned conversations, they tended to be one-on-one interactions while having lunch, driving to class, etc. However, I did notice that there were times when I would bring up the same topic in multiple conversations in the same day. This seemed to occur when the product or service was relatively new to me, yet was something I was very excited about and wanted to be the first one to encourage others. I noticed that often times I could chart the lifecycle of the WOM interaction, from the time I heard about and became excited about the product until the time I told others. I noticed that I had often heard about it from someone else, tried it myself, and if it was something worthwhile, I would recommend it quite often within that first week-to-month that I experienced it. While this cycle may only be applicable to those WOM episodes that were unplanned and unsolicited, I think it is something that would be interesting to study as a trend among others.

It was seldom that I gave a recommendation about something I was not passionate about, such as detergent or nightclubs in Boston. Instead, the product had to be something out of the ordinary or exceptional, and something that I truly enjoyed using or being a part of. It seems that most of my word of mouth episodes were ones of referral and, therefore, were about something interesting in my life at the time. Perhaps these were simply the most noticeable of my WOM interactions, but regardless, they were the most prominent and seemed to have the biggest impact on others. I decided to attempt to keep track of whether or not the people I was interacting with decided to inquire further about the product. While it was hard to track those who I was not close with, I found that all of my close friends either tried the product or service of my recommendation or at least followed up with research. Even though this might not always be the case, it was interesting to see how my simple, conversational recommendations actually led to inquiries from my friends and acquaintances.

It was strange to feel a sense of power from simple word of mouth interactions that I didn’t necessarily even realize I was having. I rarely think of myself as an influencer, but this goes to show that everyone, at some point in their lives, has the potential to influence, even if it is just to one other person. If companies can get a decent number of people to act as advocates on their behalf, and if each one of these advocates only serves as an advocate to one other person, their word of mouth reach has the potential to surpass their advertising and marketing reach and still be passed along to others. It is funny that most companies have yet to capitalize on such a market when the benefits seem so obvious.

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3 comments:

ben said...

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Marketing Communications said...

One word from one can spread out, specially on internet, news, gossip, are most likely found on internet.

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