Digital Marketing E-Reputation Social Media

Word of Mouth Marketing in the Internet Age

Marketing is changing!

In June 2010, Uber was officially launched in San Francisco, and by January 2011, only six months after its launch, Uber had done between 10,000 and 20,000 rides, and had between 3,000 and 6,000 users in that city.[i] This is an inconceivable result, since as the CEO of Uber Kalanick said, Uber spent almost nothing on the traditional marketing channel at that time, and all of this progress was made by word of mouth marketing.

And we can also illustrate the fast growth of the mobile game flappy bird, the game was released in May 2013 but received a sudden rise in popularity in early 2014, and with the help of word of mouth, it soon became the most downloaded free game in the iOS App Store without the help of traditional marketing.[ii]

Flappy Bird Search Tendency, the power of word of mouth marketing

Figure 1: Flappy Bird Search Tendency

So, what make the marketing become so different now?

Marketing is king nowadays, and yet this is a difficult time for marketers. Why do we have this paradox? We are now living in a world of marketing becomes very different from it used to be. The traditional commercial marketing logic was subverted, and in the new era, the process of marketing was changing into such a fast and direct way. And all this happened, because of the way we have approached the dissemination of information appeared several very important changes:

Information asymmetry transformed into information symmetry

In the traditional information spreading process, after the event happen the people share the information with their friend, and the speed of spread is limited because it will take some time to transform a piece of information from one person to another person, it may be cost several days or even months to transfer an information from one group to another, and there will be possibility of misinterpret for the information. But now, owing to the evolution of internet, the whole information spreading process accelerates to one day or even several minute. This is why we say information spreading channel is becoming much more flattening.

All this change our marketing environment and challenge our marketing methods. In the past, when we want our product to be well known and have a better image, we set up a huge advertising campaign, run mass number of advertisements on the media. Who owns the media, then who will own the awareness. Nowadays, as the information symmetry, people have more channel to obtain information, and the unilateral publicity doesn’t work so efficient any more. Users share information more efficient and the effect of simple media advertising decrease, because people can get information about the product easily. Instead of the advertisement, other users’ comments will play a much powerful role in the purchase.

As a result, now it will be not easy to improve the image of an inferior product by advertising, and the superior product will have more facility to promote itself.

‘We Media’ create new information structure in our society

The rise of we media changes everyone on the internet to be the source and node of information, such function like post, repost changed the way that information generate and transform in the society. It also reverse the process of an information become extensive transmission, at the time traditional media as the dominant channel of information acquisition, information wide spread after the core media report, but now, a lot of information being widely spread before the core media report, in some part it’s the widely spread information push the core media to report afterwards.

For instance, the incident of the bending iPhone 6, the video of a person bending his iPhone 6 and some users’ claims about that they Accidentally Bending their IPhone 6 in the daily use explosive spread through the social network, and then the traditional media follow up.

The changes make the old ways that marketers deal with the negative news about their brand, cover up the bad news with the help of the traditional media become almost impossible.

[i] Source:

[ii] Source:

About the author

Chenchen Shen

Chenchen Shen

Student in Digital Business Strategy at Grenoble Business School.

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