As we have discussed in class, there has been a resurgence of word of mouth due to a variety of reasons, one of them being the emergence of communication tools to amplify word of mouth. Some of these tools are social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook. These websites allow users to communicate with one another by providing information in individual profiles, while sharing personal information and allowing picture and video posting.
A recent study by The Pew Internet and American Life Project looked at teen use of these social networking sites, and the levels of privacy used by teens when allowing others to access their personal profiles. The study reported that “two-thirds of teens with profiles on blogs or social-networking sites have restricted access to their profiles in some fashion, such as by requiring passwords or making them available only to friends on an approved list.” When we discussed social networking sites in class, nearly everyone mentioned that they restricted access to their personal information, and made their profiles visible to friends only, so this information did not surprise me. What was surprising though, was that the study reported “45 percent of online teens do not have profiles at all, a figure that contradicts widespread perceptions that the nation's youths are continually on MySpace.” The article mentions that this may be caused by failure to meet minimum age requirements posted by the site. However, even sites with age requirements have very loose guidelines which allow users to lie about their age to obtain access. It seems that this resurgence of WOM may not only be caused by the emergence of these tools, but also by the fact that people are starting to use these sites at a very young age, making them part of the everyday communication system. It will be interesting to see how WOM continues to increase in popularity and become a more prominent method of communication.
Tags: WOM word of mouth Word-of-Mouth Marketing buzz marketing viral marketing marketing communication Northeastern University