Word of Mouth is Dead

Word of Mouth is Dead

Word of Mouth Is DeadMarch 10, 2011

by of http://www.getbusymedia.com/word-of-mouth-is-dead/

During the last five years, countless authors, writers and media outlets have posited that the proliferation and fragmentation of media has irrevocably changed the way we consume media. And with good reason. For the first time ever, in 2010, online ad spending surpassed newspaper ad spending. What does this mean? Articles aren’t shared with a scissors and a 44 cent stamp. Word of mouth is dead. Articles are being retweeted, liked and stumbled. Your Grandma would have thought these techniques were used when “necking” and “going steady” were in vogue. Consumers are online today, not in line at the newspaper stand.

Nearly 3 out of every four global citizens owns a cell phone. Logically, we own cell phones to make phone calls. Not exactly. 43% of teens point to texting as the main reason they own a cell phone. Safety used to be the main reason to get a phone; this has since been supplanted by SMS text messaging.

We don’t shake an acquaintance’s hand when we arrive at the nearby steakhouse. We check-in. Not with the hostess but in our online community on Foursquare. We do this to unlock badges, earn points and notify friends on our Foursquare network where we are at that moment. Only after we have alerted our friends in cyberspace that we have arrived at the steakhouse do we look up to meet the very person we just corresponded with via Foursquare.  “Hi, my name’s Bill, nice to meet you, I’ll Facebook you once we’re done with dinner.”

If Foursquare has become a prerequisite to placing a napkin in one’s lap, Facbook and Twitter have become our pipelines of information, not word of mouth. Even Google agrees with us. Google ranks content shared by your friends higher in organic search results than the same content not shared by your friends.

If Facebook is slowly becoming the Cash Cow of social media, Twitter has moved into star status. This once tiny micro-blogging site has flexed its digital muscles in the last four years and grown to nearly 200 active users. During Super Bowl XLV, twenty college friends and I jammed into a small apartment in Hell’s Kitchen to watch the biggest annual sporting event in America. Big play after big play ensued and instead of trading high-fives and “Oh how did he do that” looks we took our thoughts to Twitter. Turns out we weren’t alone. In the final minute of Super Bowl XLV, Twitter experienced unprecedented traffic, to the tune of 4,064 tweets per second, the most in its young history.

Word of mouth, as a channel to disseminate information, is old business. Ideas, innovations, trends, relationships and communication are forged through digital channels. Just as the world outgrew old modes of transportation, we too have outgrown old modes of communication. After all, are you really going to ask Meri out on a date cold? Maybe, but not before you receive a little help.

You’re going to friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, read her blog and connect with her friends (digitally) before even considering whether or not you should ask her out. At this point, even when you do muster the strength to ask her out, you’re going to nervously end the night by sending her an SMS text message telling her how much you enjoyed her company…just as your Grandma would have scripted it.