According to a recent Nielsen study, 78% of respondents
trusted recommendations from other consumers and friends over what they read in
the media and from marketing hype. This is not surprising, as “word-of-mouth”
has always been a highly dependable way of promoting products: People prefer to
trust other people’s opinions over a one-way drone from the marketing machine.
Marketers are well aware of this; in fact I am willing to
bet that everyone who is exposed to this blog has been exposed to a certain
kind of advert.
A (housewife/everyday person…etc) discusses the
difficulties of trying to keep their (bathroom/kitchen/clothing…etc.) clean
while looking after (growing children/busy husband…etc.). They are then
introduced to a new miracle product through a (friend/neighbour…etc.)
and has their world completely turned around by it’s inclusion in their life.
“Colours are brighter, whites are whiter”…etc.
These adverts have been around since I can remember,
covering everything, from billboards to radio. The simple existence of these
ads over such a long period of time is evidence of their success rate. People DO
respond to the voice and opinions of the everyman.
Now, how does this tie into the realm of online marketing..?
Well, the rise of social networks has created a whole new
way for marketers to modify the aforementioned formula, and place it in a new
network of people. Facebook has jumped on
the bandwagon that is “Myspace Music”,
and tweaked the formula. You can now become “fans” of artists and actors; even
join groups dedicated to specific products and causes. People are also using
their “Status Update” to inform their friends on their new purchases or on an
event they plan on attending.
You may think that this is all trivial and does not bare any
importance to you or your decisions. But when you see that one of your friends
has become a fan of someone/something or that they are “Loving my new Nikes”,
you immediately and unconsciously form a positive relationship with the
mentioned object/person/event…etc. We do this because we trust the opinions of
people that are similar to us, more so if they fall into our social circle.
I would not be surprised if marketing think-tanks are
already jumping on ways to get users with lots of “friends” to mention their
products on their Facebook page.
This trend is already prevalent in the Blogsphere, bloggers
use revenue earned by sponsors to keep their site paid for. In return, they
often write a review on the sponsor’s product. One of my favorite blogs, OhGizmo, followed this trend by writing
reviews on laser lights for their sponsor. This initial sponsorship helped keep
the site up and running while it built it’s loyal following.
The site is now
reportedly valued in the tens of millions of Dollars.
Getting people to mention your product seems like a very cheap
and effective way to get seen by millions of people, and I think will start
showing up in a friendship circle near you soon.
Marketing with this much
reach should just be done sensitively, lest it becomes seen
and treated as spam, and potentially ruining our experience with social