Talk:Word of mouth marketing

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Small firms[edit]

I have a problem with this page, but my English is too poor to make the needed corrections myself:

this page discuss the word of mouth as marketing technique for large companies, but this method is even more suitable for small firms, self- employed etc. I feel this page should be extended. if someone does it, I'll be happy to read and revies the corrected page. will you inform me on

thanks —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 23:31, April 20, 2006.


how does one go about starting something like this? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 07:02, June 1, 2006.

Merge proposal[edit]

Different things[edit]

WOM and Viral Marketing are two very, very different things. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 16:00, July 14, 2006.

Viral campaigns are usually centered around some company-generated content or product (think Burger King's subservient chicken, the Honda Rube Goldberg ad, etc.). It's about creating something that people will talk about and spread the word about.

This is very different from the broader practice of word-of-mouth marketing, which is about encouraging and engaging in dialog about a company's products or services. WOM marketing is an overall practice, not just an individual campaign. Viral marketing is always individual campaigns.

I think the two should remain separate, but if they were going to be merged, I would consider viral marketing a subset of WOM, not the other way around. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 16:35, July 14, 2006.

make Word of Mouth the main entry[edit]

Really, if one term should be on top, it's word of mouth. That is the older and more established term, and in truth, it encompasses online viral, offline viral, testimonials, recommendations, activites to get volunteers and SO much more that really would be underserved to be called viral. -- laura link -- —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 16:39, July 14, 2006.

What about going to the "source"?[edit]

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association has a definition of Word of Mouth Marketing ( and another one for the types of Word of Mouth Marketing: As it was written above Viral Marketing is considered a subset of Word of Mouth Marketing. Filiberto Selvas —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 16:45, July 14, 2006.


It is silly to consider merging these two pages.

  • "viral marketing" is a phrase that connotes that the product itself is designed with an involuntary referral mechanism. The classic example is Hotmail, whose users (somewhat unwittingly) wound up broadcasting a link to join Hotmail with every email they sent. Hence the term "viral"; such marketing spreads involuntarily, like a computer virus.
  • "word of mouth marketing" refers to marketing or product design that encourages people to TALK about a product or service, generally because of extreme satisfaction with it. A classic word-of-mouth counterpoint to Hotmail's viral approach is Gmail, which does NOT send out a little ad with every email sent from the service; rather, people wind up wanting Gmail accounts because they hear people raving about how great it is. Users can proliferate the service themselves, but this is done consciously rather than involuntarily; an invitation can be deliberately sent by a satisfied user to someone they know who's still trapped by Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo etc. This process is akin to a vaccination, not a virus.

My service,, includes a viral marketing element where users who do not specify a "tagline" to their custom sticker order get a tagline on their stickers as a default; they can choose a different tagline if they want, but many do not, thereby involuntarily promoting our website as they distribute their stickers. However, our service also benefits from turbocharged word-of-mouth, because the initial behavior of our customers upon receiving their stickers is to give them to their friends, associates and audience. Our custom stickers are generally distributed by people who are trying to generate word-of-mouth for their projects. This behavior often triggers the response question "where did you get these made?!" from the recipient.

Hope this explanation clarifies the distinction.

- Srini —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Spineofgod (talkcontribs) 17:23, July 14, 2006.

Combining WOM Under Viral Marketing is a Very Bad Idea[edit]

The most significant problem I have with this is the inference that WOM and Viral Marketing are one and the same and they are not. WOM truly extends the concept to include blogging, podcasting, vlogging and identifying the customer evangelists who can help spread the word. Additionally Viral Marketing carries some bad baggage associated with spam email. Viral marketing to WOM much like ASP is to SaaS. Conceptually they seem to work but when you get underneath, ASP infers Client-Server while SaaS includes many other areas of software as a service. I just don't feel that Viral Marketing says the same thing as Word of Mouth and I would hate to see it lose its uniqueness. --Jfbutz 23:44, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Good points[edit]

Others have made very good points. Perhaps we should hear the reasons this was proposed by whoever originally thought it should be considered. Can the person that proposed it chime in with their reasons? Is there an overall organizational structure we should see? Did Wikipedia reach some sort of "marketing" page quota?

The two things are different marketing methods with different techniques and applications. Just as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring are two different artists that can both be called Pop Artists. They each get a page. Part of the utility of Wikipedia is that smaller parts of a whole can be broken out for separate discussion if editors are interested in developing content pages for the parts. I agree that "word of mouth" is an older and better-understood term across various channels than is "viral marketing". If it is an organizational issue, I believe "viral" should be a subset of "word of mouth." —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Matriarchy (talkcontribs) 19:23, July 14, 2006.

The difference has not been made clear by any of the above[edit]

Not sure the Word of Mouth Association is are a credible source to be quoting particularly if you are referring to their WOM 101 definitions. These are by no means universally accepted and seem a little ‘lite’ to be cited as sources for Wikipedia.

The idea that Word of Mouth is the older term is not credible either. So what? There are plenty of terms, which have been replaced by newer ones.

The idea that viral marketing is a subset of Word of Mouth is also laughable. If anything both Word of Mouth and Viral Marketing are subsets of Buzz Marketing, i.e. buzz marketing = word of mouth + word of mouse.

I also think this discussion is a little myopically US focused. No surprise there. For example, the umbrella term for word of mouth, buzz and viral marketing in Germany is viral marketing because Word of Mouth Marketing translates as Mund Propaganda and propaganda has negative connotations there.

Also I’m not sure to that it is credible to ague that viral marketing is about the use of communication agents as opposed to say consumer product recommendations. Have a look at one of the earlier definitions of viral marketing, such as Dr. Ralph F. Wilson’s definition of Viral Marketing below from ‘The Six Simple Principles of Viral’. This makes no distinction between communication agents and customer recommendations:

“Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions. Off the Internet, viral marketing has been referred to as "word-of-mouth," "creating a buzz," "leveraging the media," "network marketing." But on the Internet, for better or worse, it's called "viral marketing." While others smarter than I have attempted to rename it, to somehow domesticate and tame it, I won't try. The term "viral marketing" has stuck.”

Perhaps the distinction here is between word of mouth and word of mouse, but even then that would suggest that blogging, podcasting, vlogging and identifying the ’online’ customer evangelists who can help spread the word are all viral marketing rather than word of mouth as suggested above.

So it’s not as simple as some would have you believe. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 03:04, July 15, 2006.

This debate is about politics not taxonomy[edit]

Check out the recent email from WOMMA to its members below:

......... original message .........

1> CALL TO ACTION: Help Save WOM at Wikipedia

Help save "word of mouth marketing" at Wikipedia. A proposal has been made to close the Wikipedia entry for "word of mouth marketing" and subsume it into the larger entry for "viral marketing". Viral is a marketing technique of word of mouth equally valid with others such as buzz, grassroots, evangelism, and more.

So we're spreading the word and asking your help. Go to the Wikipedia entry and contribute to the discussion. Let's show everyone what good positive WOM can do.

Special thanks to Gary Spangler of DuPont for bringing this to our attention.
>> GO TO:

......... ends .........

Their organization seems confused about the good work that the word of mouth marketing can do rather than the organization of the Wikipedia, or for that matter the negative aspects of word of mouth marketing as raised by the likes of Commercial Alert and Media and the Family (NIMF) or as seen in US Presidential Elections (Swift Boat Veterans, etc).

Their representatives are not correct when they argue that “Viral is a marketing technique of word of mouth equally valid with others such as buzz, grassroots, evangelism, and more”.

Obviously, it is in this organization’s interest to argue that these are separate techniques, or even subsets of word of mouth.

However, a close glance at the number of books about buzz by the likes of Rosen, Salzman, Hughes et al suggest that the differences between terms such as buzz, viral and word of mouth are by and large semantic rather than actual. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 03:32, July 15, 2006.

This poster is correct. If anything should merge WOM ans SPAM could fit snugly on the same page. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 04:10, July 15, 2006.

Each Term Deserves A Page in Wikipedia[edit]

This debate clarifies the issue: The commenters do not agree about the definitions of word of mouth, viral, buzz, etc. That answers the question. These are each topics worthy of a page in Wikipedia. There is no clear standard as to which topic is definitive or which is a subset of another. Each term should have a page until such time as global standards are set. There must be room for robust discussion and analysis of each. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Sernovitz (talkcontribs) 06:24, July 15, 2006.

Actually it could also be argued that this debate goes to clarify that there is in fact no difference between the techniques and as such you might as well merge all three. In which case, buzz would be the most likely candidate for the umbrella term. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:45, July 15, 2006.
Actually the umbrella term should be Peer to Peer marketing - which would include both Word of Mouth as well as Viral, buzz, etc. The distinction to bear in mind is that Word of Mouth is a true recommendation about the product - whilst viral is simply forwarding a piece of clever creative. -- Ian McKee - Vocanic —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 01:38, July 17, 2006.

Word of Mouth Marketing IS marketing[edit]

Word of Mouth marketing is almost as old as the oldest profession in the world. The first sale was made using old fashion marketing and sales, maybe an exposed leg. The SECOND sale was made by word of mouth.

Viral marketing is a new technique that has become more effective due to the Internet.

They're different things. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) July 15, 2006.

It's not that viral marketing is a different technique it's just that the Internet helps amplify and accelerates word of mouth in viral like way, hence the term viral marketing replacing word of mouth marketing. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:53, July 15, 2006.

Merge Word of Mouth Marketing and Spam[edit]

Shouldn't Word of Mouth Marketing be merged with Spam? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 04:07, July 16, 2006.

Two different things[edit]


Please note that WOM is informal communication obtained after a certain purchase and assuming a certain degree of (in)satisfaction, originating from people considered independent (that transmit or retransmit) from the organisations, through means also considered as independent, in an interactive way between people that know each other, about products (goods or services), related organisations and their resources (human and/or technological).

On the other end VIRAL MARKETING is information from inside the organisations, which being easily reproduced and through the usage of means of communication that allow an almost instant retransmission of information by its receivers, encourages these individuals to disseminate it by their social networks…

Thus, quite different… Carvalho —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:08, July 16, 2006.

A separate term[edit]

Word of mouth marketing is indeed a type of marketing and should therefore stay in Wikipedia on its own as a separate term. As others say below, viral marketing is a form of WOM marketing. Deleting that term is nonsense: companies of the like of Audi, Virgin, Asics, Ikea etc etc are using word of mouth to market their products or services. Viral marketing is another technique of word-of-mouth that implies online spreading of the message. Knowing that 80% of the conversations people have are happening offline, you got to keep WOM marketing as a separate term.

I also agree with some of the people here that it would be interesting to know who proposed to merge these 2 terms and what are the reasons behind this logic? If we can really call that a logic.

Michele Bouquet - Forrester Research Amsterdam —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 01:40, July 17, 2006

Word of Mouth Marketing isn't Spam, and it isn't Viral Marketing[edit]

First of all, I would like to clarify that WOM Marketing and Spam should not be considered the same. Spam is about sending large amounts of unsollicited (e-)mails to as many recipients as possible, in order to reach a certain percentage of click-throughs (or other form of response), out of sheer statistical considerations. The target population is not treated as intelligent beings, but a mere flock of sheep, a percentage of which will actually click on one of these links. WOM Marketing does the opposite: it tries to find those people who are interested enough in a particular brand, product, market so that they will appeciate a particular type of communication provided for them, which they have either subscribed to, or which they seek out (on blogs, for instance). The idea is that they find that content interesting enough, indeed, not only for themselves, but that they will forward it to others, who they believe will also appreciate it. To be exact, WOM Marketing is - in my humble opinion - the very opposite of Spam. It is intentionally limited to people who not only want it, but who appreciate it so much that they share it with others. That never happens with Spam. (Theoretically and contrarily, all TV advertising could be considered Spam - it has never been asked for and comes as an unwelcome interruption.)

Secondly, I would not agree with merging WOM Marketing and Viral Marketing. It may be true that in some markets, some people tend to use Viral Marketing as an umbrella term. As mentioned above, Germany is one example. But it still hasn't received widespread use there, many practitioners don't know what either really is, and the market is currently, if at all, in full development, with no one really knowing where things are headed. But if indeed VM became the umbrella term in German, this would be a language issue that should be dealt with in the local language versions, I should think. The English-speaking Wikipedia better reflects what goes on in the English-speaking world. The German Wikipedia is the source where the German language issues should be dealt with.

From discussions with various practitioners in various countries, I get the impression that Viral Marketing is frequently considered a narrower term, mostly limited to planned spreading effects online. Word of Mouth Marketing, however, is mostly considered a wider concept, and - maybe just as importantly - also more debated in Academia. As far as I know, the earliest Word of Mouth (Marketing) Research was undertaken in the early 60s. Still today, Viral Marketing literature is rather difficult to find.

So I should think that either both retain their separate categories, obviously with links between the two, or if indeed they have to merge, WOMM seems more like a suitable category name, in my opinion.

I am in no way affiliated with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, so this is in no way a politically-minded comment.

Martin Oetting (Researcher/Consultant, Berlin/Germany, MemeticMinds) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 02:58, July 17, 2006.

Martin seems to confuse Word of Mouth with Word of Mouth Marketing. Sure consumers saying good and bad things about brands without any prompting is not SPAM, but Word of Mouth Marketing is! It's just that the advertisers get their consumers to spread their bullshit rather than having to pay media owners. If you have a good product you wouldn't need to do Word of Mouth Marketing! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 08:29, July 17, 2006.
I am quite confident that I understand the difference between the two - it would have helped if the anonymous commentator had read more thoroughly what I have written above: "it [Word of Mouth Marketing] tries to find those people who are interested enough in a particular brand, product, market so that they will appeciate a particular type of communication provided for them, which they have either subscribed to, or which they seek out (on blogs, for instance). The idea is that they find that content interesting enough, indeed, not only for themselves, but that they will forward it to others, who they believe will also appreciate it."
He or she writes: "the advertisers get their consumers to spread their bullshit" - besides the term bullshit, which doesn't really have a place here, this is precisely the point: a marketing company gets consumers or customers to spread their messages. Assuming that the company doesn't pay for the Word of Mouth (that would no longer be WOM Marketing, but rather related to Affiliate Marketing, or some other form of paid multi-level marketing), the said consumers themselves choose to pass the message on. That is the essential difference. Spam is completely unsollicited. WOM Marketing is consumers spreading the message. Why would they, were it unhelpful and unsollicited Spam?
The notion that Word of Mouth happens on its own when only products are good enough is naive, or at best, rather optimistic. Emanuel Rosen (The Anatomy of Buzz) cites a number of very useful examples of products that should have spread like wildfire but didn't, if I remember correctly.
Martin Oetting —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 9:02, July 17, 2006.

Legitimate class of marketing[edit]

I would argue for Word of Mouth to be identified as a legitimate class of marketing. It is quite distinct from and different to spam.

I see abunch of profesionals here making what is to me a rational case for an entry and the fact that we, as professionals, are prepared to stand and support (as does WOMMA) an ethical approach to marketing should resonate with the aims of Wikipedia. Take a look at the ethics guidelines at WOMMA and please allow a distinct and separable branch of professional marketing to exist.

Graham Bird, MCIM, Chartered Marketer, —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Pittspilot (talkcontribs) 14:44, July 17, 2006.

I agree[edit]

Any points I would have made have already been mentioned - I agree: WOM should remain a separate entry! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 13:44, July 18, 2006.


The merge proposal originally suggested by Khalid hassani here is being removed due to obvious opposition in both articles. --Dhartung | Talk 22:59, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Word of mouth/Word of mouth marketing merger[edit]

(Just an FYI, there seems to be concurrent merger discussions going on. Not sure where to leave comments since this is not a "merge to" so leaving it at both. Below has also been posted here:Talk:Word of mouth#Word of mouth/Word of mouth marketing merger)

Merge "Word of mouth marketing" into "Word of mouth". Word of mouth is a cultural phenomenon and Word of mouth marketing is a specific advertising technique that makes use of it. So "Word of mouth marketing" is a subset of "Word of mouth" and should be merged as such. Fountains of Bryn Mawr 16:35, 10 February 2007 (UTC)