Focus Word of Mouth Marketing on Influencers or the Network?

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At the WOMMA conference in Las Vegas (Nov. 14, 15) one of the primary topics on the table is the debate and implications to the marketer focusing on the influencer or the network.

The influencer model suggests you should focus on the few (say 15%) who are disporportionately influential. Malcom Gladwell called these the Connectors and Mavens.

The netowrk model suggests that the importance is having many connections is more important.

I’m not fully versed on both of these equally. I’m  looking forward to learning more at WOMMA Summit. However, in my experience and in practice, I don’t think a word of mouth marketing strategy is complete without a consideration and strategy for both.

The breadth of the network is like reach. Your message can carry throughout a broad set of diverse influencers…some more influential than others.

However, I believe there are personas that are more likely to share word of mouth. In my experience these people spend more and more frequently, in a retail example. For example Jupiter found the online ‘Super Communicators" represent less than 20% of user generated content but over 30% of spend.Bigger mouths = bigger wallets!

I think frequency and reach are still relevant concepts, but more relevant when applied to word of mouth. If I see a brand in facebook, in a review, in an online review, in a forum post, and then perhaps I see it in advertising as well then I will be more predisposed to buy. Along that journey perhaps one or two of those data points were from influencers, dispaportionately adding ‘consumer generated media’ to the media mix. But, because of the breadth of the network of people and technologies to connect them (a la facebook), I saw one more nail that helped build my decision to buy.

In a world of limited of limited resource where do you focus first? What do you do with influencers or the network?

Come to the WOMMA Summit to find out!

Join the discussion on this and other Word of Mouth hot issues and great debates at WOMMA’s 2007 Summit, November 13-15 in Las Vegas. Get the agenda now> (www.womma.org/summit3)

2 Responses

  1. Brett says:

    I think the key to your post came at the end: “In a world of limited of limited resource where do you focus first?”
    The attraction of WOM is that it is supposedly cheap. At least on the surface. So it naturally attracts those that don’t have big marketing budgets (or who are too scared to invest in it). The problem is they soon find out that you ended up paying in time and attention, or in actual finances, to help fan the flame you’ve created.
    In the case of a limited budget, I think you have to focus on the influencers. I agree with having a strategy for both, but I think it will be better to hit one 100% than to hit both 50%.

  2. Lilly Holmers says:

    Thanks for the post. I am currently thinking of marketing strategies for a website that promotes nationwide network models. It is basically a website where new, fresh, talent can promote themselves in order to get exposure. I would appreciate any ideas at all as I’m pretty new to this.
    Thanks a million,
    Lilly

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