Word-of-mouth Marketing

January 30th, 2017

Topics: Marketing / Sales Mobile

Interaction with one another via mobile applications is rampant nowadays. I feel like most people under the age of 30 primarily communicate with their friends and family either through text messaging, Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, and Snaps, among others. With the rise of mobile smartphones, there has been a paradigm shift in the way that we communicate with one another. I believe that this paradigm shift has given rise to a serendipitous opportunity for business strategy: viral, word-of-mouth marketing.

Prior to the proliferation of communication and interaction via smartphones and mobile applications, word-of-mouth knowledge was spread primarily through one-on-one interactions. I meet a friend for lunch, we talk about how our lives are going, I mention a great service I just received from somewhere, and my friend tries out the same service as a result of me sharing my positive experience with them.

Now, that word-of-mouth referral can be multiplied at any given moment. Instead of just sharing my positive experience with just one person via a one-on-one interaction, I would record a quick Snap of me ranting about my great experience at whatever place, and 50 of my friends would hear about it, within a matter of minutes. Ultimately, new digital communication platforms have multiplied the network effect.

Businesses are starting to see this, and are taking advantage of this multiplied network effect through their marketing strategies. They are incentivizing their loyal users and customers via coupons or discounts to post pictures of their products online and fill it with hashtags, or maybe even incentivizing customers by offering to provide temporary internet fame by reposting their
hashtagged posts for millions to see.

What does this mean for the experiences people may have on digital communication platforms as time goes on? Will everything just be a product referral or repost full of catchy hashtags with the intent to try and get us to buy more stuff? Will our Instagram, Snap, and Facebook accounts become our new spam boxes? Only time will tell.

As future business leaders, we at Tuck have to be cognizant of how certain business strategies implemented on digital communication platforms may actually take away from the original intent of such platforms. I believe the technologies that are constantly being developed, especially digital communication platforms, are meant to enhance the personal and professional relationships that we build throughout our life, and are not meant to be used to oversaturate our lives with advertising. The resources available at Tuck, such as the Center for Digital Strategies, help us stay aware of such issues and provide insights on how to navigate the new paradigms that arise over time while staying both business-attuned and societally conscious.

I do plan on pondering on this topic more, but first I am going to post a picture of the lunch I am eating right now at a restaurant and hashtag it up so I can get a free ice cream sundae.

yep-arthur headshotArthur Yep T’17, is a second-year MBA student at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. This past summer, Arthur interned as a product manager at Fidelity Labs, the new business incubation and innovation group of Fidelity Investments. Prior to Tuck, Arthur worked at Goldman Sachs in the Ayco Private Wealth Management Division. Arthur holds degrees in finance and economics from California State University, Fullerton.

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