The Art of the Word of Mouth Conversation

The Art of the Word of Mouth Conversation

TheartofconversationWhy is it that some people are listened to while others are ignored? Why do some ideas people talk about “tip” while others die off? As part of our Influencers community project, we added a section called How To Spread Effective Word fo Mouth as an Influencer. We studied the best of from the fields of academic, psychology, word of mouth, marketing and anthropological life and pulled together our list of 30 tips. After all, about 4 out 5 word of mouth occasions are face to face conversations. Some of it is very Infleucners’ focused but thought it might be of some value to the blogosphere.

#1 – Leverage the Six Key Motivations Why Humans Talk – tap into basic human instincts that control most of us, we talk: 1) to survive, 2) to connect, 3) to make sense of the world, 4) to reduce risk, 5) to benefit economically and 6) to relieve tension. Try to make your word of mouth quench one of these motivations.

#2 – Be Natural – the best word of mouth is unplanned, unrehearsed, spontaneous and consistent with your personality; with the average Influencer having over 200 word of mouth conversations each week, there is plenty of opportunity to get the word out, don’t force it.

#3 – Find the Right People – the #1 reason somebody will participate in word of mouth is that they find the topic relevant to them; there’s very few other ways to jump the “junk filter” but to find the people who care about your buzz – the opinion leaders, trendsetters, experts, tastemakers and social ringleaders with an interest in your topic.

#4 – Have Fun – Influencers love to spread word of mouth, its fun talking about new, exciting stuff. It’s not a job. It’s not a chore. It’s a rewarding experience (we’re biased but we also think it’s a pretty cool social phenomenon).

#5 – Launch a Meme – a meme is an idea designed to spread; create a “bandwagon effect” for your word of mouth by attaching your own meme to it through catchphrases, lingo, metaphors, jingles…etc. so that not only does it convince others but encourages them to pass your message onto others.

#6 – Use the Learning Principle – pass out Influencers’ Referral Cards to word of mouth campaign participants when the situation presents itself. Pictures and words ensure better recall and involvement of the word of mouth referral (they can also tap benefits online as an Influencer Referral too!).

#7 – Give Practical Tips and Suggestions – effective word of mouth is more about how something fits into a receiver’s life; provide people an idea of what to expect in the real world under typical situations before they incorporate your word of mouth into their life.

#8 – Provide a Balanced View – people don’t believe false “shills” or “cheerleaders” but find honesty remarkably disarming; let people know the upside and the potential downside of whatever word of mouth you’re advocating.

#9 – Feed the Personality – we’re all wired differently: trendsetters want to be first in line, experts want to know the facts, opinion leaders want to know the possibilities, tastemakers want to see the big idea, social ringleaders want to know how to share it with others, mainstreamers and laggards want to reduce risk and feel safe. Modulate your word of mouth for your audience.

#10 – Love being the Expert – word of mouth is truly for lovers, great word of mouth evangelists embrace their role as expert, social glue or trendstarter and are motivated to share their experiences, very approachable about what they know and feel unthreatened by not knowing everything.

#11 – Create the Best Soundbytes – most human’s capacity to only recall 7 things at one time, above that number and we either have to commit it to memory or more likely toss it out for other stuff to wade in. Take the most relevant points from your own experience and our Word of Mouth Handbook and make your key word of mouth points in 5 bytes or less.

#12 – Approach People You Know – in order of frequency, people word of mouth with their family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours and online members, there’s a reason – people trust and like the familiar, strangers resist. Your first word of mouth port of call should be people you know.

#13 – Be Conversational – people enjoy and pay more attention to your words when they realize they’re in a “tennis match of conversation” and have to keep up their end.

#14 – Provide The WOW – the 2nd, 3rd and 6th most important reasons why people engage in word of mouth about products is to hear about stuff that is innovative, exciting and new. Average stuff is boring, answer the question – what’s so different about your discovery.

#15 – Share an Indirect Experience – people have an alarming shortage of three things – time, attention and trust. If you can provide a credible word of mouth referral, it can act as a valuable guide and time saver without requiring the person to experience “the thing” themselves.

#16 – Be Inspired – genuine authenticity and passion greases the conveyor belt of word of mouth; true word of mouth advocacy can’t be faked (nor should it be), but honest enthusiasm is magnetic and powerful and infects others with a feeling of excitement and energy, use is to make your word of mouth sing.

#17 – Get Your Facts Straight – one bad fact or overstated truth to word of mouth is like one bad coffee bean to espresso – it ruins the whole batch. Word of mouth is built on the stilts of trust, when that leaves so does its effectiveness.

#18 – Make the First 30 Seconds Count – most people make impressions lightning fast – provide the “why I should I care benefit” in the first ½ minute of your conversation to avoid the “why didn’t you tell me earlier, I would have paid more attention” response.

#19 – Answer Key Prospect Filters – effective word of mouth gets to the heart of 4 questions – what is it?, why is it so special/different?, how can I use it/see it/purchase it? And will it improve my life?

#20 – Deliver Social Currency – people love hearing about things well before the Smiths and Jones, provide them a glimpse through your insider’s lense and you’ll build up value in your “social” bank account.

#21 – Get People to Make Small Commitments – people who take even a small position will have a natural tendency to become stubbornly consistent with that “stake in the sand”. Word of mouth acts as a trigger to make that first step.

#22 – Altruism Trumps Ego – word of mouth spreads further when you’re genuinely trying to help others vs. trying to enhance yourself. Its human nature to reciprocate with someone we believe is out to help us.

#23 – Buzz Buttons – so much of what we listen to is in one ear and out the next – the word of mouth radar perks up when something is attached to: the taboo, the outrageous, the hilarious, the remarkable, the secretive and the unusual.

#24 – Be Animated – psychology research proves that people that have a bigger range of voice, facial expression and body language have greater conversational impact.

#25 – Capture the Imagination – find areas of common interest that make people consider through open questions: “where could you go …?”, “what do you think about…?”, “when was the last time you…?”- avoid closed questions that shut conversations down like “are you”, ”have you”, “did you”.

#26 – Listen to Feedback and Answer all Questions – word of mouth is a two-way avenue, it’s effective because it answers other people’s questions and lets them customize what they’ve learned to their own lives; when done well, word of mouth is a collaborative effort.

#27 – Synchronize Body Language and Voice – people that have the same rapport with other people are predisposed to listen – get on the same conversational wavelength and watch the antenna go up.

#28 – Disclose You’re an Influencer – people always ask “doesn’t it ruin the effectiveness of word of mouth when it’s sponsored by companies?” In fact, the reverse is true. By disclosing that you’re part of a group of Influencers who are sponsored to learn about new and interesting products, it actually improves the effectiveness and curiosity of the word of mouth on its recipients. People reward honesty and intrigue, so go ahead disclose.

#29 Become a Merchant of Influence – by providing frequent (at least every 2 weeks) and insightful feedback about your word of mouth experiences to the Influencers (, you become part of a small and powerful panel of superinfluencers that shapes the responsiveness of companies to real consumer needs and wants.

#30 Keep in Contact with The Influencers – check back to The Influencers regularly for new word of mouth programs, polls and announcements. We live and die as a group based on your participation and hope you will find our revolving set of word of mouth activities and content fresh and exciting.

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