Word of mouth on the World Wide Web!

Social media offers unprecedented opportunity to modern organisations. Brands must engage with consumers and develop an authentic, continuous and multi-faceted presence online.

A wealth of information is now available for brands from consumer-generated media (CGM). This online information is created, circulated and used by individuals to inform each other about brands, products, people and issues. Contemporary organisations must incorporate CGM as a central element in their Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) strategy.

Social media has changed the dynamics of public relations.

Social media has changed the dynamics of public relations.

Social media allows companies to talk to and hear from publics. But it also allows members of publics to talk to each other. This is a modern manifestation of traditional ‘word-of-mouth’, the difference: one customer can now talk to the world!

“Conventional marketing wisdom has long held that a dissatisfied customer tells ten people … In the new age of social media, he or she has the tools to tell 10 million’’

The new age means consumers are:

  • Turning away from traditional advertising
  • Commanding more control over their media consumption
  • Looking to social media for research on purchasing decisions
  • Trusting product information from social media more than official communications

So, organisations must manage the power of CGM to reap the benefits. You can’t control what consumers say, but can influence topics and types of conversation. CGM leaves a measurable digital trail. Brands can gauge reputation and message reception in real time to facilitate informed IMC decisions.

To participate in the most beneficial way, brands must:

  1. Be interesting – On social media, boring doesn’t work. Don’t just repeat traditional communications online. Come up with exciting, succinct, unique messages suitable to particular platforms. Mamamia’s Mia Freedman notes “social media is the grower’s market where you want to be luring people back to your farm” there’s got to be something appealing that draws attention.
  1. Be authentic – authenticity breeds trust. Nurturing personal relationships with publics grants a greater sense of believability especially in an environment of faceless organisations. Mia Freedman’s success derived from authenticity: “She has believability … that’s difficult to establish”.

“Trust is akin to dollars in advertising”

  1. Be continuous – social media never sleeps, consumers expect current information and real time responses. Brands must remain salient and visible. Mamamia continuously updates its site and various social media, “It’s not a case of build it and they will come with online. You have to go to where the people are”.

Social media is a novel tool with so many opportunities, effective utilisation results in great reward.


Image: https://flic.kr/p/8FSH1A

Gillin, P. (2007). The new influencers: A marketer’s guide to the new social media. Sanger, CA: Quill Driver Books. 4

Mangold, W. Glynn, & Faulds, David J. (2009). Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. Business Horizons, 52(4), 357.

Prior M, (2010), Top 10 tips for social media, Public Relations Institute of Australia NationalUpdate ‘Monitoring Social Media’.


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