Beyond the Browser

Blogs, RSS, IPods, Community Sites, Profiles, Listservs, Groups, Email a Friend and so on… whatever it is called, it is all known as Word of Mouth Marketing to those who are building huge audiences and driving business online.

In this whitepaper addressing «going beyond the browser,» I will attempt to give an overview of the opportunities for using Word-of-Mouth Marketing and the threat from ignoring it.

In the past couple of years, the hot topics were CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or eCRM -about making sure that you manage customer relationships and marketing. Today and tomorrow, one of the hottest topics is Word of Mouth Marketing online, as it crosses all demographics and proves to be one of the most effective ways to build brand equity online and extend reach and response.

Take Blogs (Weblogs) for example. There is a big debate over how useful blogs are as advertising vehicles. I believe they are very important and will be one of the new ways we communicate brand messages to very specific groups of people who have hundreds of online acquaintances with those same specific interests.

A recent blog survey done by Edelman and Technorati found disconnect between the amount of contact bloggers were willing to have with PR professionals and the amount they received. The online survey polled 821 bloggers and found that half wrote about a company or product at least once a week. When asked how they would like a company to contact them, only two percent said they didn’t want companies to do so. A majority of respondents favored a personalized e-mail. But only 16 percent of bloggers reported that companies or their PR firms generally attempt to interact with them in a personalized manner, and only 21 percent reported at least weekly correspondence from companies or their PR representatives. They reported much of the contact as a simple press release. Results of this survey are at: https://extranet.edelman.com/bloggerstudy/Default.aspx .

While this is important information about how many PR firms or companies are contacting bloggers, what is more important information to me is that the bloggers are positioning themselves, and truly are, experts to their peers. If the value of your company or destination brand is in the hands of the bloggers, shouldn’t you know what they are saying about your destination or hotel? Wouldn’t you want to influence that?

In the early days online, a listserv or discussion group could literally cripple a company that launched a new technology or product without the proper testing. I remember a couple of instances where the company literally let this slide while sales went down until they realized they could not simply ignore it and keep doing business as usual. They had to go into the groups and communicate; and manage customer and consumer messaging with fact. They had to be heard and had to manage the crises. This same situation could occur today, except now we have the opportunity to build relationships with bloggers and give them the facts they want that tell the story. This is a good lesson for destinations, hotels and resorts alike.

Bloggers have the power of communication and they lead the way with Word of Mouth…

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By Leah Woolford

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