Social media has taken word of mouth marketing to an entirely new level and is changing the way women communicate with each other about the brands and products they love and those that fail to impress.  Gearing up for his upcoming M2W® presentation, “Are you spread-worthy?”  The New Dynamics of WOM marketing in a Social (Media) World”, we caught up with Jeff Weiss, ‘The Crusader’ aka President of Harbinger Communications (Associate Sponsor of this year’s M2W®), to get the inside scoop on how word of mouth marketing works in a social media kind of world.

Q:  Jeff, not to give too much away regarding your M2W® presentation, but in what ways has social media changed WOM marketing?

A: There are several different ways in which social media has changed WOM marketing:

  • Social media has allowed women to tap into existing and larger networks of women who have defined shared interests.  These interests could be in products or lifestage-specific interests like parenting or where to get the latest fashion accessories.
  • Social media has encouraged women to share their opinions (and have a voice) where they might have felt reluctant to do so before (i.e., due to a specific social setting or where they wanted anonymity).
  • Social media has magnified the capacity to get and spread information more quickly, from more sources, in more places, at more times, with more people (which ultimately has an empowering effect).
  • Social media has also altered the approach that successful companies are taking to inform the consumer — this means not just giving product information but providing a forum for sharing and becoming a facilitator for discussion.
  • Social media has resulted in a more magnified consumer voice that companies must hear, take notice of and (often) take action on

Q:  We realize not all women use social media in the same way.  What affects how women social media as it relates to WOM marketing?

A: Until we get the results of our research, we can only speculate at this point.  We can surmise that lifestage will affect the tools used to get and spread information, as well as the type of information sought, reasons for using the technology (i.e., to keep in touch, to get information, etc.) as well as the priority/mix placed on offline and online methods.   Factors such as general use of technology impact the tools used to get and spread information. For example, ‘Singletons’ are more likely to use mobile technology and applications while ‘New Moms’ may rely more on websites and blogs to keep in touch and share opinions on common interests.

Lifestage (vs. Age) will also impact the types of products or subjects being investigated or discussed.  For example, ‘New Moms’ are likely looking for reassurance about products, ‘Singletons’ are looking for fashion trends and ‘Experienced Moms’ are looking for ideas and/or products to support their families.  Based on these different needs, women in different lifestages will look to different social media tools in order to get information or share ideas.

Q:  That completely makes sense, but it certainly does add an additional layer of complexity to a brand’s WOM marketing strategies.  That is why we are so looking forward to your M2W® presentation.  Along with your colleague Deborah Adams, you will be able to help brands navigate these new WOM marketing waters.

So tell me, what are you most looking forward to during this year’s M2W®?

A: Since we are focused on marketing to women, we are (selfishly) looking forward to networking and ideally doing business with companies and brands who ‘get it’ when it comes to marketing to women.  We are also really looking forward to learning from companies and brands who are doing it well.  We want to see what they are doing, how they are implementing programs and how they are getting buy-in at senior levels within their companies.

Thanks, Jeff.  We will soon see you in Chicago!