We all know how powerful word of mouth is in making or breaking a brand. In fact, in some circles it is claimed that only one answer need be asked of consumers in predicting market success, ‘Would you recommend this brand to your friends and family?’ (NPS)
Hold it! What’s that? People less inclined to share their opinions on Facebook? That can’t be right, can it? What the researchers found was that social media word of mouth is far more sensitive to perceptions of social risk than traditional word of mouth. It makes sense if you think about it. When you sit around the dinner table with your family and decide to give them your opinion about your new iPhone, the message is constrained in time, place and to that audience. The reason why these people are together at a table listening to you, is because they have a lot in common. This common element helps to tailor messages easily and effectively. Large audiences that have little in common are difficult to appeal to. No one message can ever be equally effective for everyone. On top of that, you have to consider that your post, tweet or Instagram may be judged for an indefinite period of time and forwarded onto audiences you had no intention of reaching. No wonder there is so much inbuilt resistance associated with giving our opinions about brands on social media.
If digital marketers want consumers to share positive word of mouth about brands with their social networks, what can they do? Eisengerich’s team discovered they could override consumers’ social concerns by getting them to dwell on an episode of failure. The negative memory meant consumers felt a heightened need to restore their positive view of themselves. It is this need to enhance oneself that made people less concerned about the risks associated with social media and made them willing to present themselves favourably to their social network through positive word of mouth activities. The word of mouth activities measured in the research included ‘saying positive things about the brand on social sites’; ‘using social sites to encourage friends and relatives to buy the brand’s products’; ‘recommending the brand on social sites’; ‘becoming a fan of the company brand pages’.
So in other words, making consumers feel bad is an effective social marketing strategy. Well not exactly. What I am saying is that once again we see just how important emotion is in driving consumer behaviour and that if marketers are clever, they can engineer circumstances that will lead to more consumers engaging in positive word of mouth activities on social media. For example, consider a car insurer hoping for more customers to share their positive claims experiences on social media. Eisengerich’s research suggests that the brand would be wise to remind customers about their worst claims experience (doesn’t even need to be car insurance, any bad claims experience would do). By reliving their negative claims experience customers will then need to restore their positive view of themselves. The car insurer can effectively solve this problem by suggesting customers share their current claims experience on the company’s Facebook page or on other social media.
Who knew Facebook could be effective as a form of consumer therapy?
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The article referenced is titled ‘Why recommend a brand face-to-face but not on Facebook? How word-of-mouth on online social sites differs from traditional word-of-mouth’ and is by Andreas B. Eisingericha, HaeEun Helen Chunb, Yeyi Liuc, He (Michael) Jiad, Simon J. Belle.
It appeared in the Journal of Consumer Psychology (2015). Volume 25(1). Pages 120-128.
The link to obtain the article appears below: