Archive for Word of Mouth

Top 30 Twitter Users and Does it Matter?

[tweetmeme]What does it take to be a star on Twitter? And are you a star because you send out the most tweets or because you have the most followers? Does it matter? Thanks to All Twitter, (who got the infograph from ICrossing) we learned:

  1. The New York Times sends out the most tweets, around 5,000 a month. But with fewer than 4 million followers, is the Times more important than Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, who tweet less but reach 8 million+ followers?
  2. Among the top most active Twitter users only The New York Times and CNN are non-celebrities.
  3. Of the top 30 Twitter users only two are sports-related and three are news or political. The rest are split between music and Hollywood

Probably no surprises here. I personally believe how many tweets you send isn’t important. What’s important is that your tweets and retweets provide value to your followers. Also, the number of  tweets you send has little bearing on the direct relationships you have on Twitter. Those are built painstakingly one at a time.

As I wrote in a previous post Is Viral Marketing Being Oversold When a Tweet is Retweeted Only 1.4 Times, word of mouth (WOM) may be oversold when it comes to business. No doubt Twitter has played a critical role in reporting events on the ground during the recent uprisings in Egypt, Libya and other world trouble spots. But as the panelists discussed at a viral Meetup I attended on which I based my earlier post, is the frenzy around viral marketing actually producing business and building brands? That’s the question being asked by marketers in 2011.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Procter & Gamble Scrubs Soap Operas for Social Media; Should Walmart be Worried?

[tweetmeme]Lightening didn’t strike at the recent announcement, but soap opera fans must have shuddered when they learned that Procter & Gamble, the company from whom soap operas got their name, is dropping their sponsorships after 77 years.  Why?  Because for a lot less money they’re reaching a lot more fans on social media.

Logo for Procter & Gamble. Source of the logo.

Image via Wikipedia

That’s where the action is now and not in the juicy, but predictable, plots of soap operas.  It was bound to happen.  More working mothers, a shift in where people go for entertainment (online), the explosion in popularity of reality TV shows, and the movement of women and men to communities that form on social networks.  P&G’s move was widely reported by the media.  The last P&G-produced soap opera, “As The World Turns,” went off the air in September, according to an article via AP in The New York Times, having lost two-thirds of its viewers.

Social Media as a Sales Channel

As P&G pioneered soap operas in the heyday of broadcasting, it is a leader in the use of social media.  It has a variety of promotions on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and smart phone apps.  The company has 36 “Favorite” pages on Facebook.  But I can’t imagine why 382,212 people would “like” a simple product page for Gain, a soap detergent.

What’s intriguing is that companies are selling directly from their social networks, Facebook in particular.  In the case of P&G, they are using Amazon, a third-party vendor to process orders. When you order a product you get sent to Amazon.

Walmart probably still has a few years before it has to start worrying, but consumer products companies have found a new sales channel and they’re jumping on board big time.

Not that Walmart is a social media slouch, I just found a good price for vacuum cleaner on their Facebook page.  However, I’m not crazy about the company’s crowdsourcing program, which they call “CrowdSaver.”  You only get a good price if enough people “like” a product.  Customers are warned in the rules:  “The CrowdSaver price is only available if the required number of “like” votes is met.”  Sounds almost punitive to me.  You want to know if your promotion is working, but…

Back to P&G which says it’s still exploring new uses for social media.

“It’s kind of the oldest form of marketing — word of mouth — with the newest form of technology,” said P&G marketing chief Marc Pritchard in the Times article.

Word of Mouth (WOM) is Hot. Or, the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is the newest buzzword, so it seems. Michael Stelzner devoted a column to it in Social Media Examiner today when reviewing location-based social networks like Foursquare.  And no less an authority than McKinsey, the consulting firm, has carried two articles about WOM in recent months.

Social networks are providing a natural platform for marketers to try out coupons, contests and giveaways to generate buzz and sales. You’d think that they had invented something brand new.

Word of Mouth (WOM) the new buzzword

I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the woman who virtually invented WOM, or viral marketing, way before the Internet enabled legions of communities on Twitter and Facebook to spread news around the world at the speed of sound.

Viral Marketing

In the 1980s, Linda Pezzano got the assignment to promote an obscure board game, called Trivial Pursuit. Linda was a friend, and before her untimely death in 1999, she showed me a presentation that she gave at marketing forums about how she reinvented the way games are marketed through viral marketing. Selchow & Righter, which bought the rights from the Canadian inventor, couldn’t afford traditional advertising. On a PR budget of $40,000 (about $88,000 today), Linda developed a program that generated sales of 1 million sets in the first year – an astounding and unimaginable number – without a penny spent on advertising.

The Story of How She Did It

What she did then is commonplace now, so let me tell you the story of how she did it. Linda convinced the company to let her send the game to the 70+ Hollywood stars mentioned in the game, such as Gregory Peck, James Mason and Pat Boone who liked playing it so much they sent her letters of thanks, which she then proceeded to use in her promotions.

She also sent teaser mailings to 1,800 top buyers who would be attending the industry’s major trade show, the 1983 New York Toy Fair. Then she sent sets to radio talk show hosts and staged game-playing events at parks, bars, restaurants and ski clubs to get WOM going. The rest, as they say, is history, with Trivial Pursuit becoming one of the most successful board games ever launched.

I just want to point out that many of the marketing techniques in use today in social media aren’t new. We are standing on the shoulders of pioneers like Linda Pezzano, in viral marketing, John Caples in direct marketing, and Edward L. Bernays, long recognized as the “father of public relations.”  They achieved great things without the Internet, proving that original ideas are still the currency of successful marketing campaigns.