Wave of electronic word of mouth (e-WoM)

We as customers love to share our experiences, knowledge, feelings, opinions, thoughts, and ideas about any product or service which we have used, experienced or even heard of. If it’s a positive & pleasurable experience we instantly develop that connect with the brand & makes it part of our lives. In fact sometimes we directly or indirectly influence others too to use the same. But if the experience is not good then, God save that product/service or brand. The biggest & one of the strongest tools which we as the customers have (which can spread any news like a fire in a forest) is “word of mouth”.

 

This proves how powerful words can be in not only expressing once emotions but also influencing others too. Word of mouth in its traditional way was when we used to have face to face chats, be in kitty parties or a gossip session with a friend(s). But its area of influence was very much limited. But with the advent of concept like e-WoM, the boundaries are shrinking & the influence radius is increasing.

 

When I was penning this article, I had zillions of questions popping up every now & than. So thought to highlight some of the aspects of e-WoM which I felt are fascinating. I’ll try & explain the points (& will include example wherever possible) so that it’s easier to understand & relate-able.

 

Image source: Google Images

 

The best example of e-WoM which strikes me is the BJP election campaign 2014. How brilliantly the party used human chain of influencers to not only create buzz about the party but also influenced Indians to come out & vote. In words of Jiten Gajaria, the convener of social media cell of BJP Maharashtra, “our strategy was to bring about convergence of social media with ground level mobilization. Social media is nothing but social conversations that are enabled by technology. It’s best to make conversations look real rather than have an official mouthpiece send out formal messages. Messages received from friends & family & social media managed by volunteers can create a deeper impact than messages received from a political party. After all, WoM marketing always scores over advertising, especially in case of a political party.”

 

How unknown people are influencing each others in purchasing behaviour

In today’s time our purchase(s) are highly dependent on what people have posted on the review or price comparison websites. Most of us before buying a TV, phone, car, and etc. first Google or visit various sites to check the reviews of the product/ service before making taking our decision. Without even knowing the person who has put his views online, we give him/her benefit of doubt & trust them. The examples of such links / websites can be Junglee.com, Pricedekho.com, Amazon.com & Zomato etc. Visit the link to know more of such website.

 

Why there is such a strong trust factor that we get carried away by the response of unknown people

 

I think the biggest reason for this can be that we start identifying people who are in same space like us. We feel rather than making mistakes it’s better to learn from other person’s mistakes. Why buy a product which other customer has already rejected. Why waste our money if we already know that the product is not worth our money. Better capitalise on other person’s experience.

 

How strong is e-WoM

From a marketers perspective it’s extremely strong. It can make or break a brand. e-WoM, directly or indirectly creates the communities online. These communities can play a major role as influencials. When we as a customer hear anything from a co-customer than we tend to trust him/her more than the company or the brand.

 

 How marketers can use this tool in its favour

e-WoM is all about;

Image source: Google Images

 

Lot of marketers (brands or companies) or their agencies (consultants) are using this as a significant tool to not only create ample buzz about them but also develop strong rapport & brand equity with the end customers. Examples of this can be iPhone 6 launch, Tinder, Google Search etc. One of my personal favourite word of mouth campaigns is of Coca Cola. For more information on same you may visit here.

Image source: Google Images

 

Some of the USP’s of this medium are:

 

    • Influential Marketing is possible
      • There can be 3 types of influencers which falls in this category – Social influencers (with lot of followers), Domain experts (bloggers), Aam admi (people like you & me)
    • Multiple communication (messages) can be given
    • Amplified & diverse reach – Can reach out to various target audience at one time
    • Increased frequency of communication – Can reach to the target customers anytime & anywhere
    • Use of different platforms as channel of communication – can use mediums like facebook, twitter, WhatsApp to connect with its audiences

 

What can go wrong

 

As mentioned about e-WoM has lot of advantages but it can have far more damaging impact too. We all remember what has happened with Amul

 

Although there was no fault of Amul in this case (They even replied to the consumer post with its explanation) but because of e-WoM its image definitely got tinted. The post got shared by 2 lakh people & liked by 9.8K people.  Enclosed is Amul’s response to the post:

 

 

Or take the latest case of Tech Mahindra. The offline conversation between the HR representative & the employee on sacking went online. You can see the viral response to the same. The post not only received more than 9000+ shares on youtube but has prominent mention & shares in other platforms like facebook. Many people who does not even know the guy who is getting sacked but are sharing the audio links. Also, they are not just sharing but also many are actively commenting on the posts. This is the power of e-WoM. How in just 3 days everyone around India are talking about this case.

 

Is it possible to have controlled e-WoM

 

O yes definitely. Infact that’s what marketers are doing now a days. They use influencers (who basically writes on behalf of marketers / brands) to write about them on social media platforms. As these influencers many a times are popular faces like TV or Bollywood celebs, people just share or comment on their posts.

 

Is this tool here to stay?

 

I personally feel that e-WoM is going to stay atleast for next couple of decades. Because of social media the world is shrinking & at much faster rate. A person sitting in one part of the world can reach to the other person anywhere & anytime.

 

Please do share your views about the article @ surbseth@gmail.com

Surbhi Mahajan

Surbhi Mahajan

I am a seasoned communications professional who loves exploring different shades of life 🙂
Surbhi Mahajan

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22 thoughts on “Wave of electronic word of mouth (e-WoM)

  1. Very Insightful write up. Nicely captured Pros and cons of Word of mouth. Its true that controlling or influencing what you called e-WOM has become instrumental in success in today’s world.
    Keep sharing your thoughts. Looking forward to your next blog!

  2. Very informative write up about e-WOM . The way ,the thoughts and idea have been structured in your blog, to convey the current reality of e-WOM is commendable . After reading your article, their come a realization ,as how knowingly and in knowingly we are part of e-wom ,whether it is idea sharing on facebook or twitting about any product experience .

    Keep writing , awaiting next insightful blog from you

  3. Well written article ,True e-WOM is the current reality which brand managers cannot ignore, as it can make or break a brand .If used properly it can be the most productive marketing tool to built a brand .
    Now a days the things said by common people on social media about product has more weightage than things said by celebrities in costly add as we believe on what we relate to
    Well written keep going

  4. Great information about e-wom. It would be interesting to see how companies tap onto this opportunity in the coming years. With rising awareness levels , consumers have become much more difficult to influence and new ideas like this are ways to get desired results for companies.

    1. Yes, it’ll be interesting to watch the moves of companies in today’s competitive scenerio.
      Thank you for your comment 🙂

  5. Nice read !
    Viral fake msgs can be disastrous for brands – every now and then there are such posts like some AIDS affected worker has infected a soft drink batch, Samsung Galaxy S7 cost Samsung more than 250 Mill$ !! A trust worthy e-WoW portal can be made where people can get true feedbacks and all myths n rumours cleared !!

  6. Nicely put Surbhi. Yes people are willing to be influenced by strangers rather than trust a brand they have been using or promoting over years. Why is that is probably a different study all together.

    As you have said e-WoM is indeed here to stay but how it will evolve and how companies take this forward would be interesting to watch, Suggestion by your friend that a trusted e-WoM portal for reviews should be set up is a good idea.

  7. From movies to gadgets it has became part of our life but have never seen it with this angle thank you for sharing such informative article keep writing

  8. Great article! Very informative and nicely described. Yeah, e-Wom plays a significant role in consumer decision process and added a new dimension to communication.
    Keep writing Surbhi!
    Best Wishes!

  9. A very well written and researched post. Indeed e-wom is influencing the markets and the psyche of the common man in a big way.

  10. A well researched article , it’s just technology upgradation of word of mouth phenomenon but WOM is still prevent in India keeping in mind the stupendous success of Patanjali as tech savvyness is still at nascent stage as far as some customers who influence certain categories of products. However there is great future of this concept in India . Well done.

  11. Nice article Surbhi. Especially like the usage of apt examples. The power of digital marketing and more importantly social media marketing is tremendous with an inherent quality to either augment brand equity or do severe damage to brand image.

  12. E-WoM will be followed in coming decades. Companies can promote their business in faster way & by investing lesser amount on publicity. This can also help in developing relations between the manufacturers and their valued customers / users in more faster way.
    Do keep writing.

  13. Very well written and so true that we trust a stranger in making small-small purchasing decisions.

    1. Thank you Guneet for taking out time to read my blog & share your thoughts. Really appreciate. Cheers

  14. Such a awakening article. Now common man has to be more cautious while taking decisions while purchasing products as big co. can use ewom as easy n cheap tool of marketing. Surbhi u have raised all issues related to ewom. Keep it up. Looking forward for more write ups.

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