Word of Mouth Marketing: Generating Buzz Online and Off

With the help of social media, generating buzz around brands has never been easier. However, new research indicates that what it takes to create conversations online and off isn’t always the same. In fact, according to a Wharton School of Business study, “What Drives Immediate and Ongoing Word of Mouth,” there are noteworthy differences.

Online, the brands and topics that people talk about are directly influenced by the awareness that other people are watching and they select topics accordingly, a social media version of dress to impress. In the research, this was dubbed “motivated transmissions.”

On the other hand, offline conversations are based much less on “motivated transmissions” and instead focus on products and topics that are truly top of mind, but often time are much less interesting than their online counterparts.

For example, someone might post or comment on the latest tech gadget, but have an actual conversation with a co-worker about the spaghetti sauce they had for dinner last night. It turns out, being a new and interesting brand can generate immediate buzz, but it quickly fades relative to the brands that are part of everyday life.

Good News for Radio

The study also reports there are specific methods for brands to generate buzz and word of mouth conversations and the biggest influence in buzz is accessibility. People continually talk about the things that they know and use every day.

In fact, to help better understand the social media landscape for broadcasters, we’ve once again partnered with Arbitron. We’ll present these findings during a session at next week’s 2011 Client Conference. If you can’t make the conference, contact dmr and we can share with you the insights.

Getting back to the Wharton study, another method that helps drive conversations is to offer samples. People aren’t going to talk about you if they haven’t met you yet. However, simply inviting people to listen is not enough, you have to also offer them some interesting ways to engage with your station.

We regularly see that when people are invited to listen and also have a chance to share a prize with someone else, the authenticity of the answers is impressive – “my sister who’s out of work,” “my neighbor who just got divorced,” or “I’d start my grandson’s college fund.”

In these instances, the station gets transformed from being a source of entertainment and becomes a way for people to help someone else. This enhanced offer is not only worth tuning in for, but it’s worth talking about.

The final conversation starter suggests using your marketing efforts to give people clues and reminders about your brand. In particular, if you can offer a unique twist to your brand that wasn’t expected or well known, it will also get people talking. Perhaps it’s an offbeat segment or some counter programming around the holidays. It’s easy to imagine listeners having these conversations about their favorite station.

Being the latest fad, certainly creates buzz, but research shows it’s unsustainable relative to products people use every day.

To learn more about how dmr’s 360° Listener Engagement Strategy creates buzz and sustainable engagement among the listeners who matter most, contact Andrew Curran for more information.


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