Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Word of mouth is not built on trust - planking is the proof of that

A few days ago a boy died while "planking" - an activity whose popularity is due to social media and word of mouth. Normally normal people started to lay down straight over uncomfortable things and spread the photos of doing this over Internet.

Eeeh. I´m in my late 30´s and I kind of don´t get this, but the Facebook site was said to have 16,000 members (I only find one with 1,332 likes) and the death of a 20 year old will most likely attract more users, however crazy that might sound.

Word of mouth and social media is powerful in creating these kind of movements. Meaningless like the planking, world changing like the ones in Middle East earlier this year.

The times when people listened to advertisers and nodded "yes sir Don Draper" are over. We might on a subconscious level be easily influenced by all the "impressions" we are attacked by during the days but it´s recommendations by friends that count. Word-of-mouth experts lift this issue, as do social media marketers and digital strategists.

And yes, people prefer advice peer to peer. When I worked with a bank it became clear in my research that people rather went to their parents for advice on super annuation than to the suited up bank staff. What was more interesting was that this was NOT a trust issue...

The reason they listened to mums and dads instead of Barbara who lives in Bank World was that they felt too much guilt when speaking to an authority of the bank. They felt judged, uncomfortable and "naked". Suddenly all their responsibilites came out in the open and the bank person who just like a personal trainer makes you feel like SHIT if you don´t go to the gym every day and live on organic spinach was too intimidating. Trust, sure, they probably knew lots, but the barriers were found elsewhere.

Social media spreads the word, but we listen to word of mouth for many reasons. Sometimes because we trust our buddies, sometimes because we fear authorities, sometimes because we want to be like everybody else. The planking movement is not built on "trust".

Does it matter if we change the way we see this? Maybe. It will probably change the way you campaign if you understand people´s drivers. It´s up to you to discover; I´m just challenging and questioning :)

More info on planking: http://www.couriermail.com.au/lifestyle/planking-not-illegal-but-police-warn-internet-pranksters-could-face-charges-of-trespass/story-e6frer4f-1226055142247


  1. I think there is very distinct difference about buzz (plunking) and word of mouth, when it is applied to social media. That difference is blurred in your post in my opinion.

  2. Thanks for commenting Gregory, interesting pont. What do you mean is the difference? Is word of mouth "better"? Is it driven by brands? Isn´t buzz what womma tries to achieve? :) Let me know your thoughts.


Thank you for your insights :)

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