Good story in the New York Times about word-of-mouth marketing through the lens of bookselling:
The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy
By David Streitfeld
… Reviews by ordinary people have become an essential mechanism for selling almost anything online; they are used for resorts, dermatologists, neighborhood restaurants, high-fashion boutiques, churches, parks, astrologers and healers — not to mention products like garbage pails, tweezers, spa slippers and cases for tablet computers…
… Almost no one wants to write five-star reviews, so many of them have to be created…
» Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion of truth.
The Brouhaha Over WOMM
My prediction: When it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, print ad, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.
» Mr. Liu estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake.
Betcha it’s even more since 2008.
» The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal and there has been a lot of confusion in the blogosphere…
More about that:
The Latest WOM On WOMM
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.
Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.
But don't believe me. This is just some blog, and I'm just some blogger. Who knows if someone's paying me to trash word-of-mouth marketing.
One thing's for sure: You'll never know.