Word-of-mouth is about telling and sharing stories

Many marketers still wrongly think that word of mouth (WOM) mainly revolves around communication. However, actually it doesn’t.

Of course there is a communication aspect in WOM, but it is not the essence, it is rather a necessary element. The main question, however, is why people talk about stuff, including our companies, brands and products. 

Besides all possible psychological reasons (and there are quite a few), we often forget the essence of WOM: the message itself, the topic or rather, the story.

Is there a difference between communication and storytelling? Certainly. A simple ‘hello’ two people exchange when they meet each other is communication. However, it is not a story.

Why stories are important to people and WOM

People are storytellers. And that has its anthropological, cultural, sociological and historical reasons. As you know, the spoken language developed earlier in history than the invention of ‘writing’. Ancient cultures were therefore, obliged to pass on their religious practices, their history and so on to their offspring by telling stories.

In some cultures that tradition of passing on stories orally is still present, although  they are now often written down too. 

We are storytellers by tradition but also because only a good story is worth telling and passing on. The conclusion for marketers who want to use the power of word of mouth marketing is simple: they should be good storytellers too.

WOM is definitely not just a matter of communication, networking and so on, it is still primarily a question of a good and, in the case of marketing authentic, relevant and honest story that the ‘audience’ really wants to pass on.

Regardless of the medium.

Some related posts:

Listen to the people behind your social media connections
Word-of-mouth marketing in 2009 and beyond
Word-of-mouth, brand advocacy and the importance of recommendations
The value of word-of-mouth marketing
Why people talk about products and brands

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