Viral! + Buzz + WOM = WOW?

So a few things have been bugging me for awhile...

Have you heard these phrases, "let's make it viral" or "let's create a word of mouth (WOM) campaign" or "I bet we can get some 'buzz' if we do X."

I think anything viral or buzz worthy falls into two categories: it's either a novelty or very unique and I am not sure an established brand, let alone a health care brand, can be or wants to be either.

has always been a significant Now on to WOM, it is beginning to really bother me that marketers think they can control word or mouth or worse yet that it is some new tactic or the result of the rise of social media. WOM is an influencer and will continue to be valuable, but you can't necessarily make it happen. it's organic, it happens naturally. Have a good product, be a great brand, WOM happens...

Social media didn't create WOM, but it has been heightened. Social media is a conversation and businesses can choose to participate in the conversation or not. If you don't, which is the primary challenge for regulated health care organizations because they are limited by legal and regulatory requirements previously discussed here, then you really don't have much of chance to "create a WOM campaign."

Next, I'd like to officially place a moratorium on the use of the word "campaign." Campaign implies something short term and specific. If you plan to do something about social media in your organization will be it be a short term campaign or will it be lasting? Will you weave it into the organization from a research, product development, customer service and marketing perspective? Will you use it to get closer to your customer and let their voice be heard? If not, don't waste your time.

Lastly, a word on research. I think market research used in doses is valuable to glean some insights and/or prove your point, but it starts and ends biased. If used in careful doses it is good. Used too much, it creates paralysis and is one of the biggest wastes of time and money available.

How is that most start-up companies find customers and grow quickly with little to no research? Apple doesn't do research to validate their products. Avoid it in fact to keep biases out of strategy and planning or use it to validate your strategy and planning, but don't do it to figure out what you should be doing. If you're doing so you're probably already behind and grasping at straws.

Secondly, do you want to listen to your customers? Whatever your topic is, go find a message board and listen, you will find in an much smaller time frame and for little to no money find out exactly what your customers or would be customers want, feel, or think about you.

To take it a step further, if you are too lazy to go to a board to find out, sign up for Google Alerts, they'll do all of the work for you. Then when you think you have some insights go to Google Trends and see if you come up with anything.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes