For the last few decades, companies generally relied on the power of brands for marketing, mostly because there were fewer tools that could be used by consumers to communicate their experiences to a broad audience (Pajuniemi; 2009). Since the emergence of different web communication tools (e.g. online social networks, blogging platforms and chat rooms), consumers have found a wider range of communication technologies that allow them to communicate their opinions in online groups by engaging in electronic word-of-mouth communication (Riegner; 2007). Electronic word-of-mouth communication (eWOM) can be defined as “any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual, or former customers about a product or company, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the Internet” (Hennig-Thurau, Gwinner, Walsh and Gremler; 2004). The easy accessibility of these online social tools lead to basic changes in people’s online behaviour patterns to share their information and opinions with a now much larger audience.
Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Get satisfaction, LivingSocial, Groupon, Swipely and Foursquare have created social platforms on which users/consumers can interact and share social information. This allows its participants to raise their voices and delegate their social influence. Mass-message distribution was simply not possible a decade or two ago.
This shift in power brought about a whole range of potential disadvantages and advantages for marketing companies. In the one hand we have consumers that can rate a movie’s performance and simultaneously influence future ticket sales, and on the other hand we have marketers that can now for the first time gain in-depth knowledge of consumers’ online communication and purchase behaviour and leverage this information to anticipate future marketing strategies.
I would just like to conclude with this last statement:
In an era where content-sharing is big, we have not yet become aware of how HUGE Social Data Mining will be for future business!
Hennig-Thurau, Thorsten, Gwinner, Kevin P., Walsh, Gianfranco and Gremler, Dwayne D. 2004. “Electronic Word-of-Mouth Via Consumer-Opinion Platforms: What Motivates Consumers to Articulate Themselves on the Internet?” Journal of Interactive Marketing, Vol. 18, No 1, pp. 38-52.
Pajuniemi, J. 2009. “Future of the consumer society.” The Revolution of Brand Marketing: The Era of Virtual Consumer Communities. University of Helsinki-Finland.
Riegner, C. 2007. Word of Mouth on the Web : The Impact of Web 2.0 on Consumer Purchase Decisions.