Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Word of Mouth and Trust

Dave Evans has a good word-of-mouth tutorial at ClickZ today. He does a good job of laying out the essential need-to-know aspects of WOM and very clearly outlines the best, current thinking about WOM. He's got a line in there that I think needs to be expanded on though:

[20 leading WOM authors, practitioners, and thinkers] said word of mouth presents opportunities for true two-way conversations. Consumers and marketers together have the opportunity via structured word of mouth, managed feedback, and similar social channels to genuinely participate in the design, development, and promotion of the products and services they find valuable.

Undeniably true, but that's really only one startegic approach to WOM. But inside of that concept is a really interesting wrinkle on brand building. I did a research project last year where we looked at the difference between people who have posted something about a product, versus those who have not.

There are only 2 real differences between those groups; how much they trust information about products and how brand loyal they are. There is no significant differences in age, online tenure, connection speed, or gender. But, people who post tend to trust the product information they read more than their non-posting counterparts and they are more likely to be loyal to a particular brand.

That's the real story of participation. When a person is given the opportunity to participate in the creation of a story, he or she is more likely to believe in its truth. Additionally, if a person knows that a story is able to be fact-checked by an open community, he or she is more likely to believe in its truth. And if that person believes that something is true, the more likely he or she is to be loyal.
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