Measuring word of mouth
Heather Maitland explores ways of measuring online and offline word of mouth arts marketing initiatives. This article was first published in JAM (issue 38 / April 2010).
The starting point of much of the discussion about word of mouth is that it can’t be measured. Actually, sociologist Gabriel Tarde first explored it in 1898.
Social psychologists are fascinated by social influence so have developed models to describe why people are so keen to make recommendations to each other. Researchers have shown that these apply online and offline. Shintaro Okazaki describes how motivations spring from two sources: individual desire and social intention. The individual wants a sense of accomplishment from passing on helpful information to others, the added social status that comes from having their opinions listened to and to have fun.
The social intention centres on an explicit or unspoken agreement between the members of a community to act in a certain way. The more someone feels they fit into a group, and the more social status and power they have within the group, the more likely they are to make recommendations. In offline communities, the pressure to conform to other members’ expectations is an important factor. It is less important online because members are anonymous.
To read the full article download Measuring word of mouth.