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Word of Mouth Has Changed, Sort Of

Scream it baby

“You have to see this!”

Well before computers were making our lives easier by making them harder, people reacted to content. Word of mouth was simply that: people spread the word to each other by talking (talking was an ancient method of communication where two or more people stood in the same room, and then by things called telephones and used voices to convey messages back and forth. Sounds crazy, I know, but apparently back then is was perfectly acceptable. Crazy pioneers)

Things shifted in the mid/late 90’s where we started to scale word-of-mouth with the use of email. We could now tell multiple people without having to re-tell the story and if we really wanted to be the talk of the town, we simply “CC’d” everyone, so all the replies went back to everyone again! Since I run a “viral marketing” company, whatever that means, my job was to ensure it was easy for our client’s projects were easy to pass around by viewers. The “tell-a-friend” script became popular until people started abusing it and it was a great way to get your domain blacklisted.

Let me tell ya kids, it was an awesome time to be in the business of sending email to spread the word. Rockin 90% open rates, almost 100% delivery and click-throughs that would make kittens cry with joy. Then spam took it up a notch, everything went into the crapper and now getting an email to your mom is even tough.

Which brings us to today. I was inspired to write this because of a Fast Company article that summarized Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s thought on how we communicate. She says that only 11% of teens check their email daily.

Now, all you grumpypants can argue that it’s just teens doin that, and the sooner they get off your lawn, the better, but think about it for a second. How do you spread the word about something you’ve just read/seen online?

I’ll take this article for example. I got an email from Fast Company, so that still worked for me, but instead of going into my address book to see who I should email it to, I jumped on Twitter and sent a tweet.

Word of mouth has changed and is still changing. Before, we had to go through our “list” and pick who to email something to. Now, a lot of people simply share it on Facebook, or click “Like” or tweet it. It’s not “Who would be interested?” anymore, it’s “This interests me” and the audience/followers/friends are the ones who filter it for you.

But one thing hasn’t changed… the “why” people spread content.

People don’t go running, screaming about something that is “ok”. As the picture shows above (which I understand the hilarity of mediocre blog post pic within a blog post) people don’t spread mediocrity. People spread great stuff. People spread emotion. Look at what gets shared on Facebook, or retweeted on Twitter. Funny stuff, brilliant knowledge-filled posts, sad things, stuff that angers you.

Repeat after me: People. Spread. Emotion.

Take a stand. Have a freakin opinion. Believe in something and then become the catalyst for a discussion around it. THEN make it easy for people to spread it with sharing buttons, like Sociable.

Create great content, and it will be the best SEO, viral, word-of-mouth “tactic” you could ever invest in.

Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

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