Anda di halaman 1dari 100

OnlineWordofMouth

AProcessModelofOnlineWordofMouth
Author:AnnChristinaSrensen

Supervisor:AnneMartensen DepartmentofMarketing
Cand.Merc.MarketingCommunicationsManagementThesis CopenhagenBusinessSchool May2010
Pages:100 Wordcount:172.198

ExecutiveSummary Word of mouth is a powerful communication tool, because it influences peoples buying behaviours.Newtechnologyallowswordofmouthtooccurinanonlineenvironment,andit hasbeengivenawholenewimportance.Onlinewordofmouthisabletoreachconsiderably largernumbersofpeopleanditispossibleforcompaniestoobserveconsumertoconsumer conversations.AtthesametimeasconsumersareincreasinglyusingtheInternetandsocial mediatools,manycompaniesareinterestedinharnessingthepowerofonlinewordofmouth communication.However,manycompaniesdonotknowhowtoactinanonlineenvironment, wheretheyhavelesscontrolovertheinformationavailableaboutthem. This thesis addresses how companies can utilise online word of mouth successfully. To do this, the thesis has conducted a literature review about word of mouth communication. Traditional word of mouth is a relevant starting point given that online word of mouth originatesfromthisbase,andsharesmanyimportantcharacteristicswithit.Inaddition,this thesis emphasises the potential of social media tools, because these are commonly used to passononlinewordofmouthmessages.Onthebackgroundoftheliteraturereviewandthe examinationofsocialmedia,aprocessmodelofonlinewordofmouthhasbeendeveloped.In order to demonstrate the process model, this thesis includes a contemporary case, which analyseshowacompanyhasutilisedit. Severalelementsarefoundtobeimportantinrelationtoonlinewordofmouth.Theseinclude the identification of the right influencers and to encourage these to pass on online word of mouthmessages;tochoosethepropercommunicationchannels;andhowtogetlistenersto listen to the messages. The process model of online word of mouth makes it tangible for companies,whodonotknowhowtoutiliseonlinewordofmouth,toencourageonlineword ofmouthcommunication.Theprocessmodelisgeneralandthechoicesmadeinthestepsof the model are likely to differ depending on the company, who utilises it. However, it does provide as an important indicator of which elements are important to include in an online strategy,makingonlinewordofmouthmanageableandeasiertoapproach.

TABLEOFCONTENT 1 INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................................................5 1.1 PROBLEMIDENTIFICATION ............................................................................................................................................... 5 1.2 PROBLEMSPECIFICATION .................................................................................................................................................. 6 1.3 PROBLEMDEFINITION........................................................................................................................................................ 6 1.3.1 ResearchQuestions ..................................................................................................................................................... 7 1.4 LIMITATIONS ........................................................................................................................................................................ 7 2 METHODOLOGYANDSTRUCTURE ...............................................................................................................8 2.1 METHODOFTHETHESIS .................................................................................................................................................... 8 2.1.1 ScientificApproach ..................................................................................................................................................... 8 2.1.2 DataCollectionMethod ............................................................................................................................................ 8 2.1.3 TheoryofScienceSocialConstructionism..................................................................................................... 9 2.1.4 AHermeneuticApproach ...................................................................................................................................... 10 2.2 STRUCTUREOFTHETHESIS............................................................................................................................................ 10 3 WORDOFMOUTH ........................................................................................................................................... 12 3.1 TRADITIONALWORDOFMOUTH .................................................................................................................................. 12 3.2 THEPOWEROFWORDOFMOUTH ............................................................................................................................... 14 3.3 ONLINEWORDOFMOUTH ............................................................................................................................................. 15 3.3.1 DefiningOnlineWordofMouth.......................................................................................................................... 16 3.3.2 CharacteristicsofOnlineWordofMouth....................................................................................................... 16 3.3.3 SourceCredibilityandTrust ................................................................................................................................ 17 3.4 THEPOWEROFONLINEWORDOFMOUTH ................................................................................................................ 17 3.5 VIRALMARKETING........................................................................................................................................................... 18 3.6 DIFFERENCESBETWEENTRADITIONALANDONLINEWORDOFMOUTH ............................................................. 20 3.6.1 Offlinecommunicationoronlinecommunication...................................................................................... 20 3.6.2 Narrowreachorbroadreach ............................................................................................................................. 22 3.6.3 Spokenwordorwrittenword ............................................................................................................................. 22 3.6.4 Difficulttoobserveorpossibletoobserve ..................................................................................................... 23 4 THECOMMUNICATIONFLOWOFWORDOFMOUTH .......................................................................... 24 4.1 THEORYOFTHETWOSTEPFLOWMODEL ................................................................................................................. 24 4.1.1 CritiqueoftheTwoStepFlowModel............................................................................................................... 26 4.2 AFLOWMODELOFONLINEWORDOFMOUTH ......................................................................................................... 27 4.3 INFLUENCERS .................................................................................................................................................................... 30 4.3.1 OnlineInfluencers..................................................................................................................................................... 32 4.3.2 GroupsthatareInfluential................................................................................................................................... 34 4.4 THEDIMENSIONOFINFLUENCERS ............................................................................................................................... 36 4.5 MOTIVESFORPASSINGONONLINEWORDOFMOUTH ............................................................................................ 38 4.6 MOTIVESFORLISTENINGTOONLINEWORDOFMOUTH ......................................................................................... 42 4.7 ONLINEWORDOFMOUTHANDSOCIALMEDIA ......................................................................................................... 43 4.7.1 OnlineCommunities................................................................................................................................................. 45 4.7.2 ReviewsandRating.................................................................................................................................................. 47 4.7.3 MediaSharing ............................................................................................................................................................ 48 4.7.4 Email .............................................................................................................................................................................. 49 4.7.5 InstantMessaging .................................................................................................................................................... 49 5 PROCESSMODELOFONLINEWORDOFMOUTH................................................................................... 50 5.1 APROCESSMODELOFONLINEWORDOFMOUTH .................................................................................................... 50 5.2 THEPROCESSMODELSTEPBYSTEP............................................................................................................................ 52 5.2.1 StepOne:IdentifyObjectives ............................................................................................................................... 52 5.2.2 StepTwo:IdentifyTargetAudience ................................................................................................................. 52

5.2.3 StepThree:IdentifyandSelecttheInfluencers ........................................................................................... 53 5.2.4 StepFour:SelectCommunicationChannels ................................................................................................. 55 5.2.5 FifthStep:GettheInfluencerstoTalk ............................................................................................................. 55 5.2.6 SixthStep:GettheListenerstoListen.............................................................................................................. 60 5.2.7 SeventhStep:TrackandMeasureResults ..................................................................................................... 62 5.3 ACASE:SPRINGFEEDCONSULTANCYANDDANISHREDCROSS ............................................................................. 63 5.4 THOUGHTSONTHEPROCESSMODEL ........................................................................................................................... 69 6 CONCLUSION ..................................................................................................................................................... 71 6.1 MAINFINDINGS ................................................................................................................................................................ 71 6.2 SUGGESTIONSFORFURTHERRESEARCH ..................................................................................................................... 74 7 REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................................................... 76 APPENDIX1 .............................................................................................................................................................. 82 APPENDIX2.1........................................................................................................................................................... 83 APPENDIX2.2........................................................................................................................................................... 91 APPENDIX2.3........................................................................................................................................................... 97

1 Introduction
1.1 ProblemIdentification
Traditionalwordofmouthcommunicationisanancientwayofsharingideas,andhasexisted eversincepeoplebegantoexchangeinformation.Astimeshavechanged,sohasthenatureof word of mouth. It has evolved from an unconscious process to something that modern advertiserstrytoinfluenceanduse(Sernovitz,2009;3). Word of mouth communication is now very important to businesses, because traditional marketingmethodsarenotaseffectiveatreachingtargetaudiencesastheyoncewere(Smith et al., 2007; 387 & Keller, 2007; 449). Marketerinitiated communication appears to be declining as consumerdriven recommendations of products increase in importance (EccelstonandGriseri,2008;593;Keller,2007;449).Consumersgenerallyperceivewordof mouth to be far more credible than marketerinitiated communication (Allsop et al., 2007; 398),whichisoftenperceivedasuntruthfulandbiased(EccelstonandGriseri,2008;593). The influence of word of mouth marketing is growing stronger (Allsop et al., 2007; 398). Research shows that word of mouth communication consistently outperforms glossy magazines,radioandTVcommercials,becausepersonalrecommendationscarrymuchmore influence,impactandvalue(Dichter,1966;166&Lametal.,2005,9;Godesetal.,2004,545 and Keller, 2007; 448). Word of mouth communication can help to acquire new customers (Villamuevaetal.,2008;48);theartofretainingoldcustomersandacquiringnewonesisone oftheprimarygoalsofanycompany(Thomas,2004;64). Today, word of mouth is no longer restricted to facetoface communication. An online environment offers countless new opportunities for businesses to influence the behaviour and opinions of consumers (Eccleston and Griseri, 2008; 592). This relatively new phenomenonisnowreferredtoasonlinewordofmouthanditisafundamentalelementof marketing practice (Keller, 2007; 449) as Internet usage continues to grow (Schindler & Bickart, 2005; 35). The increasing number of people using the Internet represents an increasing potential market for companies to target (Pitta and Fowler, 2005; 272) and, alongside the growth of social media, many companies are now focusing on this area

(Computer Economics Report, 2010; 7). However, many companies do not know how to operate in the online setting because they have less control over the information written aboutthem(KaplanandHaenlein,2009;59). For these reasons, it is safe to assume that companies interest in online word of mouth marketing will increase as the Internet matures. Companies need to develop a deeper understandingofonlinewordofmouthcommunicationandacquireinsightsintohowtouse it. The challenge for companies lies in learning how to listen to consumers conversations, discoveringthebestwaytoincorporatetheseinsightsintoatoolfortargetingtheirintended audiences.Themainchallengeistounderstandwhichelementsareimportantinrelationto onlinewordofmouthandhowtoutilisethesethebestpossibleway.

1.2 ProblemSpecification
As online word of mouth is a relatively new area, first appearing with the advent of the Internet,ithasnotbeenstudiedasmuchasthetraditionalwordofmouthmethods.Thisis why,whencomparedtotraditionalwordofmouth,thereislittleresearchliteraturecovering the online word of mouth phenomenon. However, because of the increasing importance of onlinewordofmouthcommunication,awarenessandinterestinthesubjectisgreaterthan ever. The literature implies that there are strategies for companies seeking to utilise online word of mouth communication, but there are few specific suggestions about how to unlock thepotential. Theobjectofthisthesisistoexaminethenatureofwordofmouthcommunication,covering subjects that are important elements of the processes underpinning online word of mouth communication.Thiswillcontributetoexistingliteraturebysuggestingaprocessmodelfor usingonlinewordofmouthaspartofasuccessfulmarketingstrategy.Itwilloffercompanies, with little knowledge of the subject, a tool to incorporate online word of mouth as a core elementoftheirmarketingapproach.

1.3 ProblemDefinition
By outlining the background of the problem identification and specification, this study will provideananswerforthefollowingproblemdefinition: Creatingaprocessmodelofhowtoutiliseonlinewordofmouthsuccessfully

Theanswertothisproblemdefinitionandthefollowingresearchquestionswillbefoundby includingareviewoftheexistingacademicliteratureand,usingthisbackgroundresearchto suggestaprocessmodelformaximisingthemarketingpotentialofonlinewordofmouth.A caseofhowacompanyutilisestheprocessmodelisalsoincludedinordertodemonstratethe processmodel. 1.3.1 ResearchQuestions In order to elaborate on the problem definition, this thesis will include answers to the followingresearchquestions: 1) Whatcharacterisestraditionalandonlinewordofmouthandviralmarketing? 2) Whatdoesthecommunicationflowregardingonlinewordofmouthlooklike? 3) Whatareinfluencersandwhyaretheyimportant? 4) Whatarethemotivesforlisteningtoandpassingonwordofmouthmessages? 5) Wheredoesonlinewordofmouthtakeplace? Foranoverviewofdefinitions,seeAppendix1.

1.4 Limitations
Thethesishasfollowinglimitations: Thisthesisdoesnotincludestudiesofanyspecificproductgroupintheprocessmodel of using online word of mouth successfully; all companies, who do not know how to utiliseonlinewordofmouthcommunication,areaddressedingeneralterms. Thefindingsinthethesisrecognisetheconsequencesofnegativewordofmouth,but thereisnofurtherelaborationaboutthesubject. In relation to influencers, this thesis only elaborates on the specific areas of the influencertheorythataremostrelevanttoonlinecommunication. Thisthesisdoesnotincorporatethelegislationgoverningsocialmedia.

Minorlimitationswillbehighlightedthroughoutthebodyofthethesis.

2 MethodologyandStructure
2.1 MethodoftheThesis
Inthischapter,themethodologicalapproachesselectedforthisthesiswillbeexplained.The choiceofmethodologyinfluencesthefindingsandconclusions,sothereasoningbehindthese choicesmustbeassessed. 2.1.1 ScientificApproach Thisthesisusesadeductiveapproach(Andersen,2003;39),becauseitisprimarilybasedon theoretical literature, and the examination of the problem definition uses a theoretical approach rather than empirical data. The resulting conclusions and the process model of onlinewordofmouth,suggestedinchapter5,arebaseduponabackgroundoftheoryabout traditional and online word of mouth, communication flow and the influencers theory. However,thisthesishasalsocollectedempiricaldatainordertosupporttheprocessmodel, intheformofqualitativedata,whereaninductiveapproachhasbeenused(Andersen,2003; 64,40). 2.1.2 DataCollectionMethod Primarydata ThisthesishascollecteddatafromthecompanySpringfeedConsultancy.Thedataconsistsof a power point presentation and additional information about thecompanyscampaign. This thesis has also conducted an exploratory interview (Andersen, 2003; 23) with one of the partnersinSpringfeedConsultancy.Thepurposeoftheprimarydatahasbeentofindouthow thecompanyhasutilisedtheprocessmodelofonlinewordofmouth.Theinterviewhasbeen semistructured as the interviewer already had acquired theoretical knowledge about the subject,butstillwasopentonewangels(Andersen,2003;212). Theprimarydataisillustratedinappendix2.1,2.2and2.3. Secondarydata

The study incorporates secondary data, which is found in an array of scientific journals, articles and various books. The database Business Source Complete, from the library of Copenhagen Business School, was utilised as a way of finding relevant scientific journals. Additional literature sources were found in the various bibliographies included in academic articles. Consequently, the findings of the thesis are built upon academic literature as a basis for gaininginsightsintotheproblemdefinition. 2.1.2.1 CritiqueofData Askingwhetherornotitissufficienttoutiliseonlysecondarydataisavalidquestion.Thisis whythisthesishasfounditnecessarytoincludeacasestudyinordertosupportthetheory. However, there is an advantage to using secondary data in that previous researchers have already tested the theories and hypothesis. Furthermore, the purpose of this study is to suggestaprocessmodelforusingonlinewordofmouthbaseduponwellestablishedtheory. Inrelationtotheinterviewadisadvantageisthattheinterviewerhashadabiasinterestin thoseparticularaskedquestions.Questionsthatmighthavebeendifferent,hadtheinterview beenmadebyathirdperson.However,astheintervieweewasfreetoanswerthequestions ashesawfit,thequestionsshouldnotappeartobeleading. 2.1.3 TheoryofScienceSocialConstructionism The theory of science stipulates that science is of a social constructive nature. This implies thatrealityisasocialconstruct,existingonlyinourindividualorcollectiveminds(Andersen, 2003;34).AccordingtoAndersen(2003;34),therearenorealtruths,onlycompetingtruths, anditisimpossibletodecidewhichofthevarioustruths,perceptionsorcomprehensionsare therealones. Thesocialconstructivenatureunderpinningthetheoryofsciencewillinfluencetheprocess modelofonlinewordofmouth.Thisislargelyduetotheindividualbackgroundoftheauthor, so it will affect the interpretation and decoding of the theory used during the research process. As social constructive theory dictates that there is no overall truth, but several truths this thesisfollowsthesamestructure.Thefindingsofthethesisdonotrepresenttheonlytruth

about a problem, and should be looked upon as only one of the many potential answers suggestingworkablesolutionstothisissue. 2.1.4 AHermeneuticApproach Thisthesisusesahermeneuticapproach(GiljeandGrimen,2002;164).Theintentwiththe hermeneutic approach is to interpret and understand all the data utilised in this thesis in ordertoanswertheproblemdefinition. Acentralaspectofthehermeneuticapproachisthehermeneuticcircle.Thecirclesymbolises howtheinterpretationofaspecificareawillleadtoanunderstanding,whichleadstoanew interpretation (Gilje and Grimen, 2002; 178). Put differently, the problem definition will be lookeduponfromdifferentperspectives,whichwillallhaveaninfluenceontheconclusion. Thishermeneuticapproachisutilisedtonavigatethethesisanditsresults.Alltheelementsof the thesis will be reflected upon and what these mean for the problem definition (Gilje & Grimen,2002;178).

2.2 StructureoftheThesis
Thisthesisisdividedintosixchapters: Chapter 1 introduces the overall topic of this thesis, including the problem identificationandspecification,theproblemdefinitionandresearchquestions,aswell aspointingoutthelimitationsofthethesis. Chapter 2 elaborates upon the methodology of the thesis, including the scientific approach, data collection method and theory of science, and, finally, discusses the structureofthethesis. Chapter3reviewsthewordofmouthliterature,includingtraditionalwordofmouth, onlinewordofmouthandviralmarketing,andelaboratesuponthepowerofwordof mouth.Thechapteralsooutlinesthemajordifferencesbetweentraditionalandonline wordofmouth,helpingtoprovideadeeperunderstandingoftheentireconcept. Chapter4reviewstheliteratureconcerningthecommunicationflowofwordofmouth. The object is to provide an understanding of how communication flows influence onlinewordofmouth.Thischapteralsoincludesanexplanationofinfluencertheory, revealingthemotivesbehindpassingonandlisteningtoonlinewordofmouth.Finally,

10

theresearchhighlightsthepotentialofsocialmedia,wheremostonlinewordofmouth transmissionoccurs. Chapter5presentsaprocessmodelofonlinewordofmouth,whichisbuiltuponthe backgroundresearchdevelopedinchapters3and4.Thischapteralsoelaboratesupon theprocessmodelstepbystep,andincludesacaseofhowacompanyhasutilisedthe processmodelinordertodoonlinewordofmouth.Thischapterendswiththoughts ontheprocessmodel. Chapter6,thefinalchapter,relatestheoverallconclusionsofthisthesis,includingthe mainfindingsofthethesisandsuggestionsforfurtherresearch.

11

3 WordofMouth
In order to create a process model for online word of mouth, it is important to acquire a deeper understanding of word of mouth as a concept. As online word of mouth developed from traditional word of mouth, it is important to review the literature and understand the processes governing traditional word of mouth. This will strengthen any review and conclusionsdrawnfromresearchintoonlinewordofmouthcommunication. Thischapterwillprovidethereaderwithatheoreticalunderstandingoftraditionalandonline word of mouth, as well as the process of viral marketing. The chapter finishes with a differentiation between traditional and online word of mouth. This provides an answer to researchquestionone: Whatcharacterisestraditionalandonlinewordofmouthandviralmarketing?

3.1 TraditionalWordofMouth
Thebeginningofthe20thcenturysawthefirstresearchaboutwordofmouthand,fromthe verybeginning,traditionalwordofmouthwasacknowledgedasbeinginfluential.Anexample ofthiswasastudyconductedbyKatzandLazarsfeld(1955),intheirbookPersonalInfluence. Here,theyfoundthatinformalpersonaladvicehasamuchgreaterimpactthanmassmedia advertising, and they proposed that recommendations from people are a more important influence than formal advertisements (Katz and Lazarsfeld, 1955; 176179). Brooks (1957; 154)supportedthisobservation,andsuggestedthatthepowerfulnetworksofinterpersonal relationsexisting within the consumer marketcould beusedtosell products. Itis apparent that early researchers understood the power of personal contacts and recognised the great importance that this held for marketing. They found that personal contacts are so powerful that they are the most effective tool for causing lasting changes in opinion and behaviour (Brooks,1957,155).Modernresearcherslargelyagreewiththeideathatwordofmouthisa potent influence governing consumer behaviour (East et al., 2008; 215), because impartial adviceconcerningpurchasedecisionsreducesthelevelofdoubt(Helm,2000;159).

12

Traditionalwordofmouthhasbeenatopicofresearchforanumberofdecades,soseveral definitionsoftheconceptareavailable.Forexample,Arndt(1967;3)definedtraditionalword of mouth as: Oral, persontoperson communication between a receiver and a communicator whom the receiver perceives as noncommercial, concerning a brand, a product, or a service. Building upon this, contemporary researchers share the idea that word of mouth is almost entirelynoncommercial.Eastetal.(2008;215)definedwordofmouthas:Informaladvice passedbetweenconsumers.Itisusuallyinteractive,swift,andlackingincommercialbias. Stern(1994;67)madeathoroughdefinition:WOMoccursinrealtimeandreallife:itrefers to utterances that can be taken as the verbal acts of real persons on specific occasions in responsetoparticularcircumstances.Theseutterancesarepersonallymotivated,spontaneous, ephemeral,andinformalinstructurethatis,theyarenotpaidforbyasponsor;theyarenot composed and revised over time; they disappear as soon as they are uttered; and they are not consciouslystructuredbymeansofliterarydevices(imagery,rhythm,rhyme)orformalpatterns (poetic,epic,andsoforth).Stern(1994;67)alsoaccentuatessomeveryinterestingpoints. One of his proposals states that traditional word of mouth is personally motivated and spontaneous. This means that traditional word of mouth is, unlike ordinary advertising, somethingthatisnotplannedandisanaturalpartofnormalconversation,anditisimportant toemphasisethatwordofmouthhappensinaconstantlychangingenvironment(Allsopetal., 2007;404).Inaddition,traditionalwordofmouthisspoken,sothewordsdisappearanddo notlinger. Dwyer (2007; 64) provides an interesting dimension in his definition of traditional word of mouth:Wordofmouthisanetworkphenomenon:Peoplecreatetiestootherpeoplewiththe exchange of units of discourse (that is, messages) that link to create an information network whilethepeoplecreateasocialnetwork.Thesocialaspectoftraditionalwordofmouthisan interestinginclusionwhendefiningtheconcept,asitcanbearguedthatasocialnetworkis quite unique to word of mouth, especially when compared to ordinary advertising via television,magazinesandsimilarmedia.Whenpeopleshareexperiences,theycreatetiesto each other, and sharing information causes people to create a social network as well as an informationnetwork.

13

3.2 ThePowerofWordofMouth
Previous research acknowledges and documents the idea that word of mouth is a very powerful consumer influence, as it acts as both a source of information and a persuasive communication tool (Schindler & Bickart, 2005; 36; Gildin, 2002; 94 & Keller, 2007; 448 & Bayus,1985;36).Thisexplanationisthemajorreasonwhywordofmouthisabletoinfluence peoples buying behaviours and final purchase decisions (Kiecker and Cowles, 2001; 73; Buttle,1998;242&Bayus,1985;31).Theliteraturerevealsthatwordofmouthhasapositive and strong influence on new customer acquisition (Trusov et al., 2009; 98), and also affects consumer awareness, expectations, perceptions,attitudes,behavioural intentionsand actual behaviour(Lametal.,2005;9). The power of word of mouth should not be underestimated because it occurs many times every day, as a natural part of normal conversation; as a result, it is spontaneous and independentofanyseller(Gildin,2003;99).AccordingtoaresearchstudyusingAmericansas subjects, Keller (2007; 450) found that people participate in 3.5 billion word of mouth conversationseveryday,andbrandsarediscussed2.3billiontimesperday.Eventhoughthis research only included Americans, it still reveals the high level of daily word of mouth communicationoccurringaroundtheworld. According to literature, trust, credibility and personal relevancy are important influences uponthepowerofwordofmouth: Trust Trust refers to the level of trust between two consumers. This variable depends upon the personaltrustrelationshippresentbetweenpeoplesharingrecommendations(Keller,2007; 451).ThisisconsistentwithMoormanetal.(1992;315)whobelievethattrustrepresentsa personswillingnesstorelyonthewordofanotherindividualthattheybelievetobereliable. The receiver of a word of mouth message trusts the senders intention to make a genuine, unbiased recommendation. Adding to this intention, individuals usually trust people with a similarpersonalityandoutlooktothemselves(EcclestonandGriseri,2008;593).Becausethe receiver of a word of mouth message trusts the sender, it lowers any anxiety, vulnerability anduncertaintysurroundingaparticulartransaction(AugustodeMatos&Rossi,2008;582).

14

Credibility Theperceptionofcredibilityisanotherelementdictatingthepowerofwordofmouth(Hung etLi,2007;485).Credibilityoccurswhentherecipientperceivesthatthesourceofamessage possesses relevant knowledge, skill, or experience, and the recipient is confident that the source gives objective and unbiased information (Belch and Belch, 2007; 166167). Furthermore,wordofmouthmessagesarecommonlyperceivedtobefarmorecrediblethan marketerinitiated communication (Allsop et al., 2007; 398 & Buttle, 1998; 242). The underlying reason for this is that the messages typically originate from people with little commercialbenefitarisingfromtellingothersaboutaproductoraservice(Gildin,2002;99). Toaddtothelevelofcredibility,wordofmouthmessagesareespeciallybelievablewhenthey come from unbiased people with a similar background to the receiver (Allsop et al., 2007; 398). The most credible people are family, friends, colleagues, other networks and peers. Certainly, it can be argued that the credibility of word of mouth messages is a major advantageinaworldwheretheleveloftrustinorganisationsappearstobedeclining(Allsop etal.,2007;398). Personalrelevancy Thepersonalrelevanceofawordofmouthmessageisanotherreasonwhywordofmouthisa powerfulmedium,andishighestwhenamessagesucceedsinappealingtoapersonsvalues (Allsopetal.,2007;403).Wordofmouthmessagesarenormallymadewiththeintentionof making a genuine recommendation to a fellow consumer and, because of this personal relevance, they are more likely to be heard and acted upon. Allsop et al. (2007; 404) emphasisethatthemorepersonallyrelevantthewordofmouthmessagesare,themorelikely itisthatfellowconsumerswillpassthemessagestoothers.

3.3 OnlineWordofMouth
Becauseonlinewordofmouthoriginatesfromtraditionalwordofmouth,researchersargue thatitsharesmanyofthesamequalities.Severalresearchers(HennigThurauetal.,2004;40 andGruenetal.,2006;450)havefoundthatbecauseoftheclosenessbetweentraditionaland online word of mouth, it is reasonable to assume that consumer motives, important to traditionalwordofmouth,alsoarerelevanttoonlinewordofmouth.

15

3.3.1 DefiningOnlineWordofMouth Varioustermsareusedtorefertoonlinewordofmouth.Forexample,onlinewordofmouth (Duanetal.,2008;233)isoftenreferredtoaselectronicwordofmouth(Phelpsetal.,2004; 333; HennigThurau et al., 2004; 38), Internet word of mouth, or word of mouse (Helm, 2000;159;Goldenbergetal.,2001;212).Thesetermsalldescribeexactlythesameconcept. HennigThurau et al. (2004; 39) define online word of mouth as being: Any positive or negativestatementmadebypotential,actual,orformercustomersaboutaproductorcompany which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the Internet. Just like traditionalwordofmouth,onlinewordofmouthisconsumerbasedcommunicationabouta productorcompany.Itjusthappensinanonlineenvironment. 3.3.2 CharacteristicsofOnlineWordofMouth Online word of mouth uses new technology in an online environment, including mobile phones and the Internet (Kiecker et al., 2001, 74). These are often referred to as the new media,whichischaracterisedbyitsinteractivity,makingitpossibleforthecompanytohave a dialoguewith the consumers in a way thatwas notpreviouslypossible(Pittaand Fowler, 2005; 265; BezjianAvery et al., 1998; 23). Furthermore, the process of word of mouth communicationmovesconsiderablyfasterinanonlineenvironment(Mason,2008;212). As result, online word of mouth has acquired a new level of importance, because Internet consumerscaninteractwitheachotherandsharetheirinterestsandknowledge,largelydue to the fact that the Internet encourages interpersonal communication and activities (KorgaonkaretWolin,1999;57).Atthesametime,theInternetpossessesmanypossibilities thatareimportanttobothconsumersandorganisations,duetotheprocessofbidirectional communication. Organisations can reach a higher percentage of people in their target audience much faster than in the real world. Online word of mouth can reach numerous individuals for an unspecified period of time, in direct contrast to the short lifespan of the spoken word (HennigThurau et al., 2004; 39). Arguably, this makes online word of mouth evenmoreeffectivethantraditionalwordofmouth,whichishamperedbythelimitedreach of facetoface communication. At the same time, the costs are very low and individuals can make their personal opinions easily accessible to the global community of Internet users (Dellarocas, 2003; 1407). The Internet makes it easy for consumers to gather unbiased

16

product information from fellow consumers and pass on their own consumptionrelated advice,byengaginginonlinewordofmouthcommunication(HennigThurauetal.,2004;39). TheInternetoffersnumerouspossibilitiesforconsumerstosharetheiropinions,preferences and experiences, and accompanies have a great opportunity to use this for their own advantage (Trusov et al., 2009; 90). In relation to this, there is the idea that online word of mouth grants various advantages to consumers because of its ability to use a variety of formats(Gruenetal.,2006,450). 3.3.3 SourceCredibilityandTrust Oneimportantquestionaskswhetheronlinewordofmouthlosessourcecredibilityandtrust, due to the online setting and the fact that online messages occur between multitudes of peoplewhodonotnecessarilyknowoneanother.Certainly,trustbetweenaninfluenceranda listener is important, and Eccleston and Griseri (2008; 602) found that trust is an ongoing concern for Internet users, which is why friends and relatives are still the most trusted sourcesofinformation.Ontheotherhand,opinionsconcerningpersonalproductexperience on Internet forums are often judged as trustworthy, because people acknowledge that the information comes from fellow consumers, perceived as having little vested interest in the product,noranyintentiontomanipulatethereader(Bickartetal.,2001;32). To develop and nurture the level of trust between a consumer and a company, companies mustbeawarethattrustandsourcecredibilityareextremelyimportantonline.Kieckerand Cowles (2001; 85) stressed that it is important to establish credibility in an online setting because the companies success rate is affected by how much the consumers can trust the peopleandcompanieswithwhomtheyinteract.Accordingtotheresearch,trustandsource credibility are intact with online word of mouth, since messages still offer consumers unbiased product information. However, a company must create and maintain trust and credibilitygiventhatthisisaveryimportantaspectforonlineconsumers.

3.4 ThePowerofOnlineWordofMouth
Thereislittlequestionthatonlinewordofmouthisaninfluentialmarketingtool(Allsopetal., 2007; 398).With the new technology,wordofmouthisevenmorepowerful,largelydue to the new possibilities created by modern communication. The Internet has magnified the powerofwordofmouthinthemarketplace(WardetOstrom,2002;429),andnew,informal

17

communicationchannels,suchastheInternet,mobilephones,textmessaging,email,instant messagingandblogs,haveallmadeitveryeasytoshareinformationandopinions(Allsopet al.,2007;398). Someresearchers(AndreassenetStreukens,2009;252)reinforcedtheideaconsumersmay wellbemoreopentoonlinewordofmouth.Thereasonisthatconsumersactivelysearchfor informationonlinebeforemakinganypurchasingdecisions(AndreassenetStreukens,2009; 252).Thisideamakesperfectsense,becauseconsumersactivelyseekingproductknowledge online are more open to acting upon the information they gain (Andreassen et Streukens, 2009;252),becausetheirguardmaybedown.Extendingthisimportantpoint,onlinewordof mouthappearstobeasignificantinfluenceuponaconsumersevaluationofproducts(Dohet Hwang, 2009; 193). Furthermore, Kiecker and Cowles (2001; 74) found that, regardless of wherewordofmouthtakesplace,inanofflinesettingoranonlinesetting,theinfluenceof wordofmouthcommunicationisstillpresent. Anotheradvantageofonlinewordofmouthisthatittakesplaceinpublicrooms(Andreassen andStreukens,2009;252),suchastheInternet.Seenfromtheeyesofcompanies,thisgives online word of mouth a great advantage, due to the fact that it is able to reach a larger audience than traditional word of mouth. Thus, new technology, such as the Internet, is somethingthatcompaniescantakefulladvantageof.ThankstotheInternetandsocialmedia tools, it is possible to look inside what was, customarily, a private sphere (Andreassen et Streukens,2009;257).

3.5 ViralMarketing
Viral marketing must be included in any research about online word of mouth because it is easily confused with online word of mouth; they both take place online and share some superficialcharacteristics.However,theydodifferinmanysignificantaspectsanditiscrucial tomakeacleardistinction. Viral marketing is a specific type of word of mouth communication, involving an explosive selfgenerating demand or ruin (Dobele et al., 2005; 144). This idea suggests that viral marketingisbaseduponcreatinganepidemicgrowthorviraleffect,targetingasmanypeople as possible. Because the spread is epidemic, there is a significant possibility that a viral marketingmessagewillreachmanypeoplelyingoutsidethetargetaudience.

18

Viralmarketingcanbedefinedas:Fromapracticalperspective,itisastrategywherebypeople forwardthemessagetootherpeopleontheiremaillistortieadvertisementsintoorattheendof messages(Dobeleetal.,2005;144).Viralmarketingcanconsistofaninformationalmessage or,moreoften,asanentertainingmessage,themainreasonwhythemessageisforwardedby Internet users. A viral marketing campaign is often funny (Dobele et al., 2005; 146), explaining why the messages are so engaging. In this way, viral marketing messages do not necessarilyhavemuchtodowiththeproductitselfand,generallyspeaking,viralmarketing messages are forwarded more frequently because of the messages themselves, rather than because of the actual product, service or brand. Compared to online word of mouth, viral marketingisnotaboutmakingandreceivingrecommendationsaboutaproduct.Dobeleetal. (2005; 144) emphasise that viral marketing is only used to generate word of mouth recommendations. Another definition of viral marketing says that: Viral marketing is in its essence a communication strategy that uses ideas, slogans, catch phrases and icons or a combination hereoftotransmitamessageconcerningaproductasfastandaswidespreadaspossiblewithin a given target group. It is often part of a branding strategy and it usually seeks to address opinionleadersandoftenalsoearlyadopters(Beckmann&Bell,2001;1).Likeonlinewordof mouth, viral marketing uses the natural communication networks between consumers to spread a specific message. Unlike word of mouth, viral marketing is far more likely to be perceivedas marketer initiated advertising, despitethefactthat themessage is sentfrom a friend.Thesetwodefinitionsofviralmarketingmakeitclearthatviralmarketingmessages havealargemarketerconstructedelement;onlinewordofmouthoriginatesfromaformeror presentcustomer,justaswithtraditionalwordofmouth. Aneffectiveviralmarketingcampaigncancreateawarenessaboutaproductorabrandquite successfully as it can spread exponentially. However, advertisers and businesses need to be aware of the risk that consumers may feel that they were exploited by a viral marketing campaign,potentiallyhurtingtheproductorbrand(Dobeleetal.,2005;149).

19

3.6 DifferencesBetweenTraditionalandOnlineWordofMouth
Intheliterature,itisevidentthattraditionalwordofmouthandonlinewordofmouthshare many of the same qualities. However, they also differ in four major areas, all of which advertisersmusttakeintoaccount. Table1givesanoverviewoverthemaindifferencesoftraditionalandonlinewordofmouth foundintheliterature. Traditionalwordofmouth Offlinecommunication Takesplace Facetoface communication notanonymously Reach Narrowreach Privaterooms Spokenword Perishable Difficultforcompaniesto observe Onlinewordofmouth Onlinecommunication Onlinesettingcanbe anonymously Broadreach Publicrooms Writtenword Availablefora substantialtimeperiod Possibleforcompaniesto observe

Natureof message Measurable

Table 1 Differences between traditional and online word of mouth (own creation)

3.6.1 Offlinecommunicationoronlinecommunication One major factor highlighted by several researchers is that traditional word of mouth happens facetoface, whereas online word of mouth occurs in the anonymous online world (De Bruyn et Lilien, 2008; 152; Dellarocas, 2003; 1410). With facetoface interaction, it is easiertomakeanaccurateinterpretationofwhatissaid,largelybecausepeoplecaninterpret facial expressions and body language. This is not possible in an online setting, especially problematic when the process of finding information includes evaluating the opinions of strangers(Dellarocas,2003;1410).Becausethesettingisdifferentonline,Dellarocas(2003; 1410) argued that the reliability of online identities is questionable because they can be

20

manipulated easily, so developing precautions and installing adequate defences as part of gaining a better understanding is crucial. This particular observation is reinforced by the work of Kiecker and Cowles (2001; 85), who noted that it is possible to be anybody on the Internet;bycontrast,verifyingcredibilitycharacteristicsisfareasierwithtraditionalwordof mouth. Based on the study of an online discussion group, McWilliam (2000; 47) found that trustmusttobeearnedoveraperiodoftime,simplybecauseonlinemeetingsdonothappen facetoface and lack physical cues. People online are evaluated according to their ability to contribute to conversations and the overall validity of their insights so, many of the conversations online replicate some of the features that characterise facetoface conversations, such as continuity and immediacy (McWilliam, 2000; 47). Pitta and Fowler (2005;267)alsoemphasisedthat,overtime,itispossibletoformrelationshipsinanonline setting.Cheungetal.(2009;11)gofurther,andsuggestthattherearemorewaystoevaluate online recommendations than with traditional word of mouth recommendations. They suggest that online forums provide extra nonverbal cues to help the reader evaluate the reliabilityofasource(Cheungetal.,2009;11). Online word of mouth differs from traditional word of mouth in that the recommendations arenotrestrictedtoclosefriends,familyandacquaintances.OntheInternet,consumerscan easily share their opinions and experiences about products with everyone (Leskovec et al., 2007; 4). An online setting gives individuals the opportunity to be absolutely anonymous, whichisnotusuallypossiblewithfacetofacecommunication.SchindlerandBickart(2005; 37) proposed that a key difference is the strength of the ties between people exchanging information. A weak tie symbolises that the communicators do not know one another, whereas a strong tie symbolise that they do, whether as friends, family or acquaintances. However, weak ties are not always negative; Sun et al. (2006; 1108) suggested that online communicatorsshowfewerinhibitions,lesssocialanxietyandlesspublicselfawareness.The reasonforthistendencytowardsselfdisclosureisprobablycausedbythelevelofanonymity offered by the Internet (Sun et al., 2006; 1108). It is important to note that it is possible to havebothstrongandweaktiesinonlinewordofmouth,dependinguponhowthemessageis communicated(SchindlerandBickart,2005;37).Forexample,aweaktiecouldtaketheform of online consumer reviews, where the reader does not know the reviewer personally, whereasastrongtiecouldbeafriendinanonlinesocialnetworkingsite.

21

3.6.2 Narrowreachorbroadreach Itisevidentthatsincetraditionalwordofmouthhappensfacetoface,thereachisrelatively narrowwhencomparedtothepossibilitiesapparentwithonlinewordofmouth.Becauseof the Internet, online word of mouth can reach audiences on an unprecedented scale (Dellarocas,2003;1407),andonlinewordofmouthisabletoreachanunlimitednumberof people, as long as the recipients have a computer with Internet access, a mobile phone, or other electronic device containing new communications technology. In other words, the sourcesusingonlinewordofmouthcommunicationhaveconsiderablymoreoptionsavailable for spreading the word than is possible with traditional word of mouth communication (KieckerandCowles,2001;82). As traditional word of mouth typically represents onetoone communication, in what AndreassenandStreukens(2009;252)callprivaterooms,ithasarelativelynarrowreach andthespeedofthemessagespreadingisrelativelyslow,simplyduetotheprivatenatureof the message. In contrast, because of the Internet, online word of mouth can reach multiple individuals very quickly (HennigThurau et al., 2004; 39), and the potential reach is considerablymorethanwithtraditionalwordofmouth.Distanceislesslimitingandremote Internet users are much easier to reach. This is largely because of what Andreassen and Streukens(2009;252)callpublicrooms.Onlinewordofmouthisaccessibletoamuchlarger audience because Internet acts as a public room, where people from all over the world can meet.Onlinewordofmouthallowsonetoonecommunications,butthenewtechnologyalso allows onetomany and manytomany communications, and the relative reach of online wordofmouthiscomparativelybroad. 3.6.3 Spokenwordorwrittenword Anothersignificantdifferencebetweentraditionalwordofmouthandonlinewordofmouth is the use of the spoken word as opposed to the written word. Traditional word of mouth normallyimpliesthespokenwordwhich,aspreviouslymentionedinsection3.1,isdrivenby facetofacecommunicationbetweenpeoplewhoknoweachotheratsomelevel.Becausethe communication is facetoface it is also perishable (Andreassen and Streukens, 2009; 252). Onlinewordofmouthinvolvesthewrittenword,andmanyresearchersagreethatthewritten word carries its own advantages. HennigThurau et al. (2004; 39) argued that the written wordisavailableforanindefinitetimeperiodand,accordingtoBickartandSchindler(2001;

22

37),thisallowsconsumerstoacquirenewinformationattheirownpace.Becausethewritten word normally does not disappear, it is easy for consumers to return and read the words, gaining a more detailed understanding that is not always apparent with the spoken word (Bickart and Schindler, 2001; 37; Sun et al., 2006; 1109; Andreassen and Streukens, 2009; 252).Thewrittenwordoftenallowstheinformationtobemoreintactandmoreformalised thanwiththespokenword(Sunetal.,2006;1109),andthewrittenwordwillremainexactly asitwaswritten,whereasthespokenwordisvolatileandexposedtomanyinterpretations. 3.6.4 Difficulttoobserveorpossibletoobserve Asignificantdifferencebetweentraditionalwordofmouthandonlinewordofmouthisthat online word of mouth makes it possible for companies to observe consumertoconsumer conversations (Godes and Mayzlin, 2004; 545). Because online word of mouth is characterisedbytransmissionofthewrittenword,companiescanlearnfromtheinsightsgain fromtheseobservations.Thisisuniquetoonlinewordofmouthand,accordingtoBickartand Schindler(2001;38)suchinsightsopenupthepossibilityofgainingabetterunderstandingof why personal information is so influential. Observation also makes it easy for companies to find out what the consumers are saying about them and their products. By observing the activity and online conversations occurring in different online communities, companies can observe and learn from interpersonal communication (Godes & Mayzlin, 2004; 548), using onlineconversationtotheiradvantage. Previously, companies could not observe word of mouth messages because spoken word communicationisprivateanddifficulttoobserve(GodesandMayzlin,2004;545).

23

4 TheCommunicationFlowofWordofMouth
Thischapterelaboratesuponthecommunicationflowofwordofmouth.Todoso,thetwo stepflowmodelisused,becauseitillustrateshowcommunicationflowsfrommassmediaand amongst consumers, and an important element in the communication flow is recognised as influencers. Finally, the chapter analyses where these online conversations take place. Buildinguponthefindingsofchapter3,itisimportanttodiscusstheseaspects,sincetheyare allimportanttoanyorganisationseekingtoutiliseonlinewordofmouth. Bydoingso,thischapteranswersresearchquestiontwo,three,fourandfive: Whatdoesthecommunicationflowregardingonlinewordofmouthlooklike? Whatareinfluencersandwhyaretheyimportant? Whatarethemotivesforlisteningtoandpassingonwordofmouthmessages? Wheredoesonlinewordofmouthtakeplace?

4.1 TheoryoftheTwoStepFlowModel
The idea of the TwoStep Flow Model originates back to the 1940s, with a study of how information and ideas spread through mass media and interpersonal networks. This was summarisedinthebook,ThePeoplesChoice,byPaulLazarsfeld,BerardBerelson,andHazel Gaudet (1948). The book described the process of decisionmaking during the Presidential election campaign at that time (Weimann et al., 2006; 175). Later on, Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955)furtherdevelopedthemodelintheirbook,PersonalInfluence.Theyfoundthatthereis astronglinkbetweenthemassmediaandthepopulation,namingthislinkopinionleaders, whereindividualsspreadinformationgainedfromthemedia(Feick&Price,1987;84).The theory of the twostep flow has had a major influence on communication theory for several decades,andthiswellacknowledgedideaisstillusefultocompanies(Weimannetal.,2006; 175).

24

The theory differs from the socalled Hypodermic Model, which states that mass media unidirectionally influences individuals. In other words, according to this model, there is no intermediarylinkthatsharesinformationbetweenthemassmediaandtheindividuals. TheHypodermicModelisillustratedinFigure1,ontheleftsideofthefigure.

Figure 1 Hypodermic Model and Two-Step Flow Model (Source: Windahl et al. 2009)

Incontrasttothis,thetheoryofthetwostepflow,illustratedontherightsideofthefigure, emphasises that individuals receive information from other people within a communication environment,aswellasfrommassmediaandinterpersonalchannelsfromsourcetoreceiver (Windahl et al., 2009; 69). For companies to utilise this model, they must identify the individualsresponsibleforpassingoninformationtotheotherpeopleinthecommunication environment,andencouragethemtopassonwordofmouthmessages. As it is seen in the twostep flow model, the public receives information indirectly from opinion leaders who, in turn, receive the information directly from mass media. Influencers pass this information on to the individuals receiving information from the opinion leaders, often called followers or listeners. Influencers have more knowledge than the listeners, and canbedescribedas:People,whotendtoconsumemoremediaoutput,discusscertainthemes

25

with others, and participate more in organisations than do others in their immediate environment(Windahletal.,2009;71).Theconceptofinfluencerswillbefurtherdiscussed insection4.3. One thing that makes the twostep flow model quite valuable is that it connects mass and interpersonal communication, offering companies an opportunity to devise strategies that targettheopinionleadersdirectly,allowingthemtotakeadvantageoftheflowofinformation (Windahletal.,2009;71).Inotherwords,themodelinformsmarketersofwhattargetsthey shouldfocusupon,andremindsthemthatcommunicationoftenpassesthoughmorethanone link;itisveryimportanttobearthisinmindwhencreatingmarketingplans. Thetwostepflowmodelisalsoveryuniquebecauseitrecognisesthatconsumersaresocial beingswhoexchangeinformationandcommunicatewitheachother,proposingthattheyare allinfluentialtosomeextentandthattheyareactiveinseveralcontexts(Windahletal.,2009; 72). 4.1.1 CritiqueoftheTwoStepFlowModel Thetwostepflowmodelcanbecriticisedforoversimplifyingthecommunicationprocess.In reallife,theinfluenceprocessismuchmorecomplicated(Weimanetal.,2006;175),anditis likelythattherearemorefactorsthanafewinfluencerspassingonwhattheyheardfromthe massmediatoalloftheirlisteners.Instead,influencersarelikelytobeinfluencedbyothers, andanexchangeofinformationalsooccursbetweenpeoplewhoinfluence,whichmakesthem disseminatorsaswellasrecipientsofinfluence(Weimanetal.,2006;175). Another area of the twostep flow model which can be criticised is the role of influencers. WattsandDodds(2007;442)arguedthatitisunclearhow,orif,theseinfluentialindividual are indeed accountable for the diffusion processes and the adoption of technology. The researchers do not reject the notion that under some conditions, influencers are able to influence other people, but state that this is far from true in every case. On the other hand, they believe that, in most situations, influencers are only moderately more important than ordinary individuals (Watts and Dodds, 2007; 442). In addition to this, the researchers criticise the twostep Model for being unspecific about precisely how the influencers shape otherpeoplesopinions(WattsandDodds,2007;442).

26

Manycriticismspointoutthatthemodelunderestimatestheroleofthelisteners.Themodel describes the listeners as passive, simple receivers of information from the influencers, and suggests that they do not do anything to find the information themselves (Weimann et al., 2006;175).

4.2 AFlowModelofOnlineWordofMouth
The twostep flow model suggests that the communication flows from mass media, passing through influencers before reaching listeners. As the twostep flow model hails back to the 1940s,itdoesnotincludeacommunicationflowmodelforanonlinesetting.However,online wordofmouthusesawholenewcommunicationflowbetweenthesenderofamessageand thereceiver,althoughitisbaseduponthepreviousmodel.Inthetraditionalsense,wordof mouthcommunicationhappensfacetoface;thisisnotthecaseinanonlinesetting(Pittaand Fowler,2005;267). This is why it is important to elaborate further about the communication flow governing onlinewordofmouth,becausetheflowfrominfluencerstothelistenersconsistsofmorethan just one link. The additional flows of communication are: onetoone communication, oneto manycommunicationandmanytomanycommunication(PittaandFowler,2005;267). Figure 2 depicts how the information flows from influencers to the individuals in the three communicationsflowmethods:

27

Figure 2 Communication Flow (own creation)

28

Thethreecommunicationflowsdifferfromeachother,especiallyinthesenseofhowmany people they are able to reach. So, the overall effect of the communication flow differs according to which particular flow is dominant. This idea will be expanded in following sections. Onetoonecommunication This is where an ordinary listener acts as an opinion leader and talks about the product he/she uses and, in this way, peers directly spread the information about the product. How frequently,andtowhatextentthisonetoonecommunicationflowoccurs,entirelydepends upon the product category and how easy it is for the user to talk about the product. In this formofcommunicationflow,thecontactischaracterisedasdirectandhighlyinteractiveand, aspeoplegettoknowoneanother,itispossibleforthemtodevelopdeeprelationships(Pitta andFowler,2005;266).Onetoonecommunicationflowisinterestingbecauseitisrelatively easytomeasurethepassalongeffectandpredictthefuturesuccess(PittaandFowler,2005; 267).Ifoneuser,onaverage,persuadesmorethanoneprospectusertobecomeacustomer,it willresultinanexponentialgrowthincustomersandtheprocesswillhavebeensuccessful. Thisiswhyitisinterestingtoidentifyanyviralparameters,allowingmarketerstooptimise themandachieveepidemicgrowth. One example that can be categorised as of this type of communication flow is the social networks, where one user usually persuades one or more new users. The users are peers, which in this sense means that they know each other. However, the effect of onetoone communicationhasyettobethoroughlyaddressedinresearchcommunities. Onetomanycommunication Thisiswhereaninfluencer,whousuallystartedoffasbeingalistener,passesonthemessages to numerous listeners that he/she does not necessarily know personally. Because of new technology,ithasbecomepossibleforoneconsumertoreachanunlimitednumberofother consumers online, in a way that could be perceived as personal (Kiecker and Cowles, 2001; 72). Furthermore, this is usually a oneway communication flow (Pitta and Fowler, 2005; 268).

29

Examples of onetomany communication flow are blogs and newsletters. However, a one way communication flow is not strictly the case with blogs, because it is possible to leave comments to the blogger, and he/she can choose to respond back. By contrast, a oneway communication flow is present when a company sends out newsletters. Pitta and Fowler (2005;268)arguethatthistypeofcommunicationisanefficientwaytomakecontactwitha multitudeofconsumers,butitseffectivenessislimitedbyitsonewayflow.Inordertomake thiscommunicationflowmoreeffective,manycompaniesnowincorporateanemailfunction, allowingcommunicationtoflowbothways. Manytomanycommunication Thiscommunicationflowdiffersinthesensethatthereisnotonecentralinfluencer;instead, numerous less influential influencers provide information about a product to other people. Each message provided about a product is less significant, as it is the combined joint messages,fromallorsomeoftheinfluencers,thathasanoverallimpact.Putdifferently,the interaction occurs between multitudes of consumers, because messages are available to everybody and are not of a private nature. The receivers can be both consumers and other units,suchascompanies(PittaandFowler,2005;268). Examplesofthistypeofcommunicationareconsumerreviewboards,typicallyinwebshops, where users review and rate products. Usually nobody knows anybody personally, and it is perfectlyvalidtoquestionwhetherornotthetrusttowardsanindividualislimited.However, aswasshowninsection3.3.3,itmightnotbeaproblem,becausethemessagesareperceived asoriginatingfromfellowconsumers.Furthermore,itisassumedthattrustintheparticular communityandinthecombinedmessageriseswiththenumberofmessages.Forexample,if manypeoplewritepositivereviewsofaparticularbookonthereviewboardofawebshop, thereadercangatheragreaternumberofrecommendationsandismorelikelybepersuaded tobuytheparticularbook.

4.3 Influencers
As the two flow models from section 4.1 and 4.2 show, influencers are very important, becausetheyarealinkbetweentheindividualsandthemassmedia,andalsosendwordof mouth messages to the listeners. The object of this section is to build upon the theory of influencers,alsoreferredtoasopinionleadersandinfluentials(Weimannetal.,2006,174).

30

Understanding influencers is critical, because they pass on word of mouth messages and encouragedtodoso. Theideathatsomeconsumersareinfluencers,andhavegreatauthorityintheeyesofother consumers,hasbeenstudiedforseveraldecades.Inthe1950sKatzandLazarfeld(1955;3) defined influencers as: The individuals who were likely to influence other persons in their immediate environment. Contemporary definitions, such as the one made by Windahl et al. (2009; 71) in section 4.1 are largely in agreement with the early ones. Influencers are thus characterised as people who pass on information to their surroundings, via word of mouth communication. By giving advice and verbal direction for search, purchase and use, influencers indirectly influence other people (Flynn et al., 1996, 137). Influencers are able to influence other peoples attitudes and behaviours and give advice to the followers, who they persuade to purchaseproductsthroughwordofmouth(Weimannetal.,2006;174).KieckerandCowles (2001; 77) explain the relationship between influencers and listeners in the following way: Opinion Leaders influence consumers brand choices within product categories by providing WOM recommendations that are viewed as credible due to their involvement, expertise, and experienceinaproductcategoryandthereceiversbelief(trust)thattheOpinionLeaderhasno vestedinterestinnoranythingtogainpersonallyfromtheirpurchase. Accordingtotheabovedefinition,influencersareabletoencourageotherpeopletobuyand try products through the power of word of mouth recommendations, providing an explanation for why influencers are very relevant to companies. Influencers provide useful advice and information (Rogers, 2003; 26), and personal influence and interpersonal discussions ultimately shape public opinion and behaviour (Nisbet, 2005; 3). Influencers influence other people in matters ranging from fashion to politics, and they usually possess expertiseandknowledgeaboutaparticularsubject(Weimannetal.,2006,174). Influencerscanbeidentifiedbythebackgroundofcharacteristicsthattheypossess,andmake useofmanyskills,suchasreading,listeningandwatching,intheprocessofacquiringahigh degree of product knowledge. They are innovative product adopters and they are usually deeply involved with a specific product category (Lyons & Henderson, 2005; 322). Thus, influencers involve themselves in a specific product category and actively seek out product

31

information(Weimannetal.,2006;174).Influencersareactivecommunicatorsandpasson usefulinformationaboutproducts(Weimannetal.,2006;174),andfamilyandfriendsoften perceive individuals actively gaining information through search activities as influencers (Lyons&Henderson,2005;321).Thisindicatesthatinfluencersareinformallyrecognisedas expertsbytheirfriends,family,colleaguesandotherconnections(Weimannetal.,2006;176). An influencer is not significant because of his or her personal status or position in society. Influencersarenotperceivedasleadersinsociety,andtheyarenotabletoinfluencethrough standard authority structures or via organised media; people listen because they are well informed,highlyrespectedindividuals(WattsetDodds,2007;442).Tobecomeaninfluencer is a position that is earned and maintained through the individuals own competences and social accessibilities, and relies upon their ability to conform to the norms of the system (Rogers, 2003; 27). According to Rogers (2003; 27), influencers act as models of innovative behaviourtotheirfollowers,mainlybecausetheyarelikelytoadoptnewthingslongbefore mainstream society does. So, influencers are also able generate interest and encourage the trialofnewproducts(Weimannetal.,2006,174).Ultimately,thepurchasingbehaviourofthe listenersisguidedbytheinfluencers,throughwordofmouthcommunication(Weimannetal., 2006; 174). In contrast to the influencers, the listeners do not involve themselves with products and seek easier ways of finding out relevant information. The influencers show a great interest in products, as part of their quest to seek in depth information, and their involvement with product information research ensures that they know more than their listeners,allowingthemtoprovideinformationandgivegoodadvice.Thisisthemajorreason whylistenerstakenoticeofwhattheinfluencershavetosay,becausetheyappeartoknowa lotabouttheproducts. 4.3.1 OnlineInfluencers WiththearrivaloftheInternetandmobilephones,theinfluencershaveadditionalplacesto spreadwordofmouthmessages.Usingnewtechnology,itisnowpossibleforinfluencersto sharetheiropinionsandrecommendationsonlinewiththeirfollowers,quicklyandeasily.In thesamewaythatonlinewordofmouthisarelativelynewphenomenon,onlineinfluencers arearecentobservableoccurrence.

32

Somestudiesproposethatonlineinfluencersaresimilartotraditionalinfluencersinseveral important ways (Lyons and Henderson, 2005; 325), such as their ability to influence other people.However,themaindifferencebetweenonlineandtraditionalinfluencersisthatonline influencers use new technology and tend to exclusively operate online, rather than in the traditional marketplaces. However, Lyons and Henderson (2005; 325) suggest there is not much difference between traditional and online marketplaces, and the dynamics of the Internetasamarketplacearequitesimilartothoseofthetraditionalmarketenvironment.In thesameway,Lyons&Henderson(2005;326)proposedthatonlineinfluencersshareseveral characteristics with traditional influencers, despite the different spheres of operation. This view supports the idea that online influencers have several fundamental characteristics in common with influencers based in the traditional market places, a similarity discussed in section4.3.Thesetraitsareahighlevelofknowledgeintheirparticularfieldandtheroutine ofactivelyseekinginformation. However, because of the potential uses of the new technology, online influencers possess additionalqualities.Atypicalonlineinfluencerisgenerallycharacterisedascomputerliterate andconfidentwithtechnology.Researchshowsthatonlineinfluencershaveahigherlevelof computerskills and demonstrate a greaterlevelof involvement withthe Internetthan non leaders(LyonsandHenderson,2005;325).Theskillstheygenerallyobtainarebuiltupona certainlevelofknowledgeandfamiliaritywiththecomputerandInternet.Onlineinfluencers knowhowtonavigatetheInternet,andtheyarealsocuriousaboutinvestigationandresearch online. Because these people possess certain skills, they are more confident, which again makes them more likely to spend time exploring the Internet (Lyons and Henderson, 2005; 322).Onlineinfluencersactivelytakepartinunearthingthemanypossibilitiesandpotential usesofnewtechnology,andaremorelikelytosurftheInternetandexploreunfamiliartopics, out of sheer curiosity (Lyons & Henderson, 2005; 325). Because of this, online influencers possessahigherlevelofknowledgeabouttheInternetthantheaverageperson,andthisgreat knowledge encourages other people to seek out and take their advice. In this way, online influencers subconsciously manipulate how other consumers seek, purchase and use products,bybringingthemnewinformation(Lyons&Henderson,2005;326). Online influencers seem to have more advantages than influencers in the traditional marketplaces.Whereastraditionalinfluencersusuallyreachlessthanadozenpeople,online

33

influencerscancontactapotentialglobalaudiencecontainingapracticallyunlimitednumber of users, due to the rapid growth of the Internet (Lyons & Henderson, 2005; 319). Most current theories assume that this makes online influencers considerably more prominent thantraditionalinfluencers,simplybecausetheyareabletoreachagreaternumberofpeople and, as a consequence, reach more of a companys target audience. In relation to the flow models, influencers are able to reach other people, and companies should try to encourage this. 4.3.2 GroupsthatareInfluential Because the influencer theory has received so much attention in theoretical literature, it is importanttocoverexactlywhotheseinfluencersrepresentinreality,allowingcompaniesto focus on this particular group. It is also imperative to identify the influential individuals in socialnetworksandencouragethemandencouragingwordofmouthtransmissiontooccur (Smithetal.,2007;387). Companies who want to use word of mouth methods successfully must be aware of the specificcharacteristicsmentionedinsection4.3,becausetheyarevitaltotheidentificationof potential influencers. This section will give a few indications of how and where influencers canbefound. EventhoughDichter(1966)madehisstudyseveraldecadesago,manycommentatorsargue that his findings are still applicable today. He appears to be an acknowledged researcher in the field of word of mouth, and many contemporary researchers (Kozinets et al., 2010; AndreassenandStreukens,2009;DeBruynandLilien,2008;HennigThurauetal.,2004)still refertohimintheirwork. Dichter(1966;152)identifiedsevengroupsthathecalledinfluentialgroups.Hefoundthese groupstobethemainsourcesofsuccessfulrecommendations(Dichter,1966;152): 1. Commercial authorities: People who know more about a product than the average consumer, because of their job or training. Dichter (1966; 152) also referred to this groupasprofessionalexpertsandsalespeople.

34

2. Celebrities:Peoplewhoarefamousfromtelevision,moviesandothermedia.Theydo not necessarily have anything to do with the product itself. Dichter (1966; 152154) alsocalledthesepeoplesyntheticwordofmouthproducers. 3. Connoisseurs: People who have a great knowledge about a product and are fellow consumers;theydonotworkwiththeproduct. 4. SharersofInterest:Peoplewhohavesomethingparticularincommonwiththelistener (Dichter,1966;154). 5. Intimates:People,suchasfamilymembers,friendsandcloserelatives.Dichter(1966; 154) emphasises that recommendations from this group need not be verbal, and can be nonverbal. This group often influences the listener through direct observation of whatproductstheyuse. 6. Peopleofgoodwill:Peoplethataregenuinefriendstothelistener,individualsthatthe listener perceives as giving genuine advice and who are genuinely interested in the listenerswellbeing(Dichter,1966;154).Thisgroupunderstandsthelistenersneeds andmakerecommendationsbaseduponthatbackground. 7. Bearers of tangible evidence: People who have the product at hand to show and demonstrateittothelistener,sothattheinterestedpartycanseeandfeeltheproduct firsthand. According to Dichters (1966; 154) research, it is the people of goodwill, people who are sharers of interest, the intimates and the bearers of tangible evidence who are the most influential. This seems logical because these groups represent interpersonal influences and people,whomWattsandDodds(2007;442)refertoasindividuals,whoarehighlyinformed, respected,orsimplyconnected. Inthemodernworld,thereisastrongbeliefthatthecelebritiesgroupemphasisedbyDichter (1966; 152) is also influential, particularly because of their heightened status awarded by media saturation. They are influential, but this is not an interpersonal influence (Watts and Dodds,2007;442). EventhoughDichters(1966)studywasperformedinthe1960s,hisfindingsconcerningthe influentialgroupsarestillapplicabletotodaysgroups;thegroupsaretheexactlythesamein themodernworld.Forexample,consumerreviewwriters(sharerofinterest),bloggersand

35

journalists (connoisseurs), and musicians and politicians (celebrities) certainly wield great authorityintheeyesofconsumers. Anothersignificantaspectrelatedtoinfluentialgroupsisthatinfluencersarefoundatevery sociallevel,canbeofeithersex,andencompassawiderangeofprofessionsandagegroups (Weimannetal.,2006;176).

4.4 TheDimensionofInfluencers
Acentralpartoftheinfluencertheoryistheideathatafewinfluentialindividualsareableto influence a majority of people. However, there is an interesting divergence of opinions between researchers concerning the influencer hypothesis. Some researchers (Katz and Lazarfeld, 1955) are of the opinion that influencers are restricted to being a few highly connected individuals, while other researchers (Smith et al., 2007) are of the opposite opinion.Basedonresearch,Smithetal.(2007;395)suggestthatinfluenceisnotsomethingan elitefewpossess,butisapotentialsharedbyeveryone,purelybecauseitisanormalfunction of human nature. This corresponds with suggestions made by Flynn and Eastman (1996; 137),whosaidthatallconsumershaveagreatinfluenceoneachotherinseveralways,and thatconsumptionisamajortopicofsocialcommunication.MyersandRobertson(1972;45) alsofoundthatinfluencersareonlyslightlymoreinfluentialthanotherpeople,andshowed that influencers themselves are often recipients of influence. The influence is a twoway process and, instead of a small number of highly connected groups of people wielding the highestinfluence,Smithetal.(2007;390)suggestthatitisamoderatelyconnectedmajority fuellingtheprocess. The idea that an influencer is not necessarily drawn from an elite is a very interesting observationandiscriticaltoanymarketingmodel.Thereasonisthattheresearchsuggests thatgreaternumbersofpeopleareabletoinfluenceotherpeoplethaninitiallyassumed.This isveryinterestingforcompanies,becauseitmeansthattheyshouldbeabletoreachouttoa larger potential audience of influencers. With more influencers spreading word of mouth messages, the company can increase the number of people in the target audience who will hearthemessageandactuponit. ItdoesseemthatSmithetal.(2007;390)makearelevantpoint,anditislogicaltoassume thatmanyconsumersatsomelevelareinfluencers.Forexample,aperson,whoknowsalot

36

about cars might be influential in the car category because of his knowledge, whereas the same person might not know anything about mobile phones. Everybody is a potential influencer to some degree, depending upon their knowledge, experience and interests. An influencerdoesnothavetoknowabouteverysubjectintheworld,onlyaspecificsubject,and being an influencer very much depends upon the exact product category. This agrees with observations made by Allsop et al. (2007; 400), who suggested that when people turn to othersinordertogetadvice,theirpreferredsourcedependsonthegiventopicandwhothey regard as having the proper expertise in this area. According to Allsop et al. (2007; 400) everyone belongs to various social networks and, depending on the topic, individuals take differentroles,eitherasthegiverorreceiverofwordofmouth. ApplyingOnlineWordofMouth This suggests that marketers should be aware that many people might be potentially influencers of different levels, and that they should identify influencers according to this model. It is important for marketers to have the right understanding of the specific social networksinwhichtheirproductsoperate,aswellasknowingwhichindividualsinthesocial network will be the most active at creating and spreading product messages (Allsop et al., 2007; 400401). In order to target the right people Allsop et al. (2007; 402) suggest that marketers should use their resources to understand which individuals and groups have the strongest impact, and which of those are most likely to spread word of mouth about their product. The marketers must then ensure that these people have positive experiences with thebrandsothat,inreturn,theywillbemorelikelytospreadpositivewordofmouthreviews across their network (Allsop et al., 2007; 402). Related to this is the idea that the company shouldnotpushthemessagesouttotheinfluencersasaonewayflowofinformation.Ideally, thecompanyshouldengageinameaningfuldialoguewiththeinfluencers,findingouthowthe companysproductorbrandisalreadydiscussedbyconsumers(Keller,2007;449). Another suggestion about methods that marketers can use to approach influential people online, with the intention of encouraging them to talk about a product, is to make a site providingtrustworthyanduniqueinformation.Representativescanmeettheminforumsand offer them information that matches their specific needs (Smith et al., 2007; 395396). Companies can also establish an online system, making it possible for consumers to

37

recommendacompanysproduct,ortheycanincludealinkthatmakesiteasyforindividuals toshareinformationwiththeirfellowconsumers(HuangandChen,2006;425).Anotheridea istoaddavisitorsurveytothecompanieswebsites,helpingthemtouncoverusagepatterns, involvementandproductknowledge,withthepurposeofbuildinglongtermrelationshipsfor futureinfluencerdrivenprogrammes(LyonsandHenderson,2005;326). Finally, the company could consider incorporating traditional marketing activities into their strategy of generating online word of mouth communication. Even though traditional marketingmethodsdonothavethesameeffectaspreviously,theyarestillanexcellenttoolto stimulate word of mouth communication. Keller (2007; 452) suggests that traditional marketingchannelsareaneffective,yetoftenoverlooked,partofstimulatingwordofmouth communication.

4.5 MotivesforPassingonOnlineWordofMouth
Itisimportanttoknowandunderstandthemotivesdictatingwhyonlineinfluencerspasson online word of mouth information, and this is essential knowledge for those wanting to encourageinfluencerstospreadmessages.Knowingthemotivesforpassingononlineword ofmouthcanhelpcompaniestodevelopmessagesthatwillenhanceviralactivityandtarget the right individuals (Phelps et al., 2004; 335 and Sundaram et al., 1998; 530), ultimately helpingthemtodesignaservicethatishighlycustomeroriented(HennigThurauetal.,2008; 50). Throughoutthedecades,researchershavecontributedtoliteraturewithbothonlinemotives (HennigThurau et al., 2004) and motivations behind generating traditional word of mouth (Dichter, 1966 and Sundaram et al., 1998). Researchers found that consumer motives for passingontraditionalwordofmoutharerelatedtoconsumermotivesforpassingononline wordofmouth,becauseofthecloserelationshipbetweenthetheoriesdescribingonlineand traditional word of mouth processes (HennigThurau et al., 2004; 40 and Goldsmith & Horowitz, 2006; 477478). This is why it is important to include both online and offline motives,becauseitallowsadeeperunderstandingofonlinemotives. Asoneofthefirsttodoso,Dichter(1966;148)uncoveredmanymotivesforpositivewordof mouthcommunication,basinghisresearchonindepthinterviewswith255consumersinthe United States. Dichter (1966; 148) found that motives for positive word of mouth

38

communication included: Productinvolvement, selfinvolvement, otherinvolvement and messageinvolvement.Inrecenttimes,Sundarametal.(1998;529)elaboratedfurtheronthe possible motives for passing on word of mouth messages. They based their motives on the findingsofseveralhundredinterviews,andidentifiedfourbroadmotivesforpositivewordof mouth communication. These are altruism, selfenhancement, help the company and product involvement(Sundarametal.,1998;529).Finally,HennigThurauetal.(2004;4850)studied motivesforsupplyingopinions,withaspecialfocusononlineconsumersandonlinewordof mouth.Bylookingatabout2,000Internetuserswhowroteonlinecomments,theyfoundthat the primary motivations for engaging in online word of mouth include: concern for others, social benefits, economic incentives and extraversion/selfenhancement (HennigThurau et al., 2004;4850). Thefollowingrepresentsthefourmostcommonmotives: Altruism Altruism is one of the motives found to be a major reason for passing on word of mouth messages. Altruism can also be referred to as concern for other people, or other involvement.Altruismistheideaofdoingsomethingtohelpotherpeople,withoutexpecting anythinginreturn.Researchshowsthatindividualsengaginginwordofmouthoftenhavethe intention of helping other consumers, assisting them in making a purchase decision that is, ultimately,satisfying(Sundarametal.,1998;529). It is also argued that altruism is one of the main motives for passing on word of mouth. By conducting indepth interviews, Smithetal.(2007;387)foundthat thedesire to helpother people is a primary motivation. They point out that when advice is well received, it encourages the influencer to continue and make a greater effort, and people continue give advicebecauseofthehumantendencytobehelpful(Smithetal.,2007;392;387). Productinvolvement Productinvolvementisalsoamotiveforpassingonwordofmouth.Ifaproductisperceived to be important or relevant, it often generates excitement about the product which, in turn, leads to word of mouth (Sundaram et al., 1998; 529). Influencers personal interest in the product and their use of the products makes them want to share the news with fellow

39

consumers (Sundaram et al., 1998; 529). It can be argued that product involvement is a motive that marketers should pay special attention to. Consumers involve themselves with satisfyingproducts,andproductinvolvementisaprincipalexplanationforgeneratingwordof mouth (Feick and Price, 1987; 84). If a product is of high quality, reliable and durable, it is muchmorelikelytogeneratewordofmouthcommunicationtoagreaterextent(Sundaramet al., 1998; 530). Therefore, the better a product or service offered by a company, the more likelyitistogeneratepositivewordofmouthbecauseasatisfiedcustomerisfarmorelikely to spread word of mouth information (Godes & Mayzlin, 2004; 547). Ultimately, another significant reason to pass on word of mouth messages is that consumers with positive experiencesofacompanysproductorservicewillhavemorefavourableattitudestowardsit. If customers are satisfied and have had good experiences, they are more likely to spread constructivewordofmouthbothonlineaswellasoffline.Exactlyhowmuchwordofmouth theyspreaddependsupontheirexactdegreeofsatisfaction(AugustodeMatos&Rossi,2008; 580). Especially product involvement corresponds with some of the characteristics of influencers, which was mentioned in section 4.3, which were high levels of product knowledge and deeply involved with a product category. Because influencers are active communicators,thiscorrespondswithselfenhancements,altruismandsocialbenefits. Selfenhancement Selfenhancementisalsooneofthemainmotives.Someconsumersgenuinelywanttoprovide theirfellowconsumerswithhelpfuladvice;andmanyconsumersliketoappeartobeasmart andcompetentshopper.Bysharingtheirpositiveconsumptionexperiences,someindividuals hopetoenhancetheirimageasintelligent,thoughtfulshoppers(Sundarametal.,1998;529). Sundaram et al. (1998; 529) suggest that a motive like selfenhancement does not carry as muchweightasmuchasmotiveslikealtruismandproductinvolvement.Researchshowsthat thismaywellbethecase,becausewordofmouthcommunicationiscertainlycloselylinkedto givingsincereadvice.However,timeshavechangedsinceSundarametal.(1998)madetheir observationsinthe1990s,andthelastdecadehasseenaboominonlinesocialnetworking sites, bringing a new culture of selfenhancement on the Internet; it is easy to publicise oneselfandonesopinions.Thisisoftenaresultofthetendencytobringattentiontooneself,

40

or construct an image that an individual wishes to project to the surrounding network (KaplanandHaenlein,2009;62). Socialbenefits Social benefits are also mentioned as an important motive. Social benefits appear to have a largeimpactonwordofmouthbecausekeyinfluencersliketosharetheirinformationabout themarketplaceasatypeofsocialexchange(Goldsmithetal.,2003;57).Motiveslikesocial benefits are also coherent with the increasing growth of contemporary online communities andsocialmedia,whereconsumersmeetandinteract,justaswithtraditionalmarketplaces. Additionalmotives Inadditiontotheabovementionedmotives,commitmentisanotherreasonwhypeoplepass onwordofmouthmessages.Commitmentisdefinedasbeing:anenduringdesiretomaintain avaluedrelationship(Moormanetal.,1992;316),anditisimportantinthiscontext,because customers who are highly committed to a company or product are more likely to talk positivelyaboutit(AugustodeMatos&Rossi,2008;581).Commitmentisbelievedtohavea positiveeffectonwordofmouthactivity(AugustodeMatos&Rossi,2008;591)and,ifpeople do not value a particular company or product, they will not be committed (Moorman et al. 1992;316).Furthermore,perceivedvalueislikelytogeneratewordofmouth;valueisrelated to the tradeoff of giveandget components, and is defined as: the consumers overall assessmentoftheutilityofaproductbasedonperceptionsofwhatisreceivedandwhatisgiven (Zeithaml, 1988; 14). As a result, perceived value reflects something that is tangible and communicable, and a customer is more likely to stay loyal to a product or a company if the customerperceivesthattheyreceivedmorebenefitsfromaproductorservicethanthecost thattheyinvested.Ultimately,thisloyaltyisoftenexpressedthroughpositivewordofmouth (McKeeetal.,2006;212&210). Itiscrucialthatcompaniesareawareofthedifferentmotivesforgeneratingwordofmouth, and these motives should be taken into account when developing new strategies for generating effective online word of mouth. It is evident that consumers do not act as a homogeneous group and have different motivations for engaging in online word of mouth (HennigThurauetal.,2004;51),coveringthewholerangeofmotiveslyingbehindgenerating

41

positive messages. Companies should cover all the main motives in order to enhance the possibilitytoreachasmanyaspossible.

4.6 MotivesforListeningtoOnlineWordofMouth
In the same way that it is important for companies to know and understand the motives behind why online opinion leaders pass on word of mouth, it is vital for them to know and understand the motives behind listening to online word of mouth in order to be able to influencethatbehaviour.Onceagain,itisreasonabletoassumethatmotivesforlisteningto traditionalwordofmoutharebroadlysimilartothemotivesforlisteningtoonlinewordof mouth. In addition to identifying motives for engaging in word of mouth activities, Dichter (1966; 152)proposedasetofmotivesdictatingwhyanindividualwouldlistentowordofmouth,as wellasactupontherecommendationandbuytheparticularrecommendedproduct.Dichter (1966;152)foundtwokeymotivesthatareimportanttothelistener: 1. It is important that the person who makes the recommendation and passes on the wordofmouthisgenuinelyinterestedinthelistenerandtheirwellbeing. 2. Itisequallyimportantthatthepersonwhomakestherecommendationhasexperience andknowledgeabouttheproduct,andcanconvinceotherofthis. Dichter (1966; 152) emphasises some additional questions that the listener will ask him or herself before listening to the recommendations. These are: What relationship the listener andinfluencerhavetoeachother,cantheinfluencerbetrusted,andwhatistheirrelationto the product; do they have any material reasons to give positive reviews? These additional questionsareinterestingbecausetheysumupsomerelevantpointsthatareveryapplicable towordofmouthcommunication,suchascredibilityandfinancialgain. As already mentioned, there is evidence in the literature that many consumers prefer listening to fellow consumers than advertisers (Keller, 2007; 449; Allsop et al., 2007; 398). People still place a lot of trust in fellow consumers, and this tendency has not declined as communication migrates on to the Internet (Bickart et al., 2001; 32). It appears that older researchers,suchasDichter(1966;152),andseveralresearches(Keller,2007;449;Bickartet al., 2001; 32; Allsop et al., 2007; 449) from the past decade, agree that trust is extremely

42

importantinrelationtowordofmouthcommunication.Asaresult,itisreasonabletoassume thatamajormotiveforlisteningtoonlinewordofmouthisthebeliefthatfellowconsumers willtellthetruthaboutaproduct. Another motive that several researchers mention is the idea of reducing the level of risk incurred when purchasing a product (Buttle, 1998; 250; Hogan et al., 2004; 272). Many consumersmayexperienceuncertaintywhenpurchasingnewproducts,andwanttoreduce thisbylisteningtoreliableonlinewordofmouth.Marketerscanreducetheperceivedriskby encouragingcustomercommunitiesandcustomerratings(Thomas,2004;66).

4.7 OnlineWordofMouthandSocialMedia
Web based technologies allow word of mouth to be communicated via online channels. An onlineenvironmentisimportant,becauseitisrelativelyeasytobuildbrandawarenessanda corporateimagethroughwordofmouthcommunication(Mason,2008;212). Web2.0andusergeneratedcontentaretreatedinthesamewayassocialmediabecauseWeb 2.0 represents a new way of utilising the World Wide Web, and usergenerated content represents the way in which most people utilise social media (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2009; 61). Social media can be defined as: Social Media is a group of Internetbased applications that buildontheideologicalandtechnologicalfoundationsofWeb2.0,andthatallowthecreation andexchangeofUserGeneratedContent(KaplanandHaenlein,2009;61). Anumberofonlinecommunicationchannelsexist,eachwiththepotentialofspreadingonline word of mouth messages. Figure 3 illustrates the various social media tools and divides the termsfromeachother,asmanyofthemoverlap;theseinclude,butarenotlimitedto:

43

Figure 3 Social media tools (own creation)

There are a variety of possibilities for companies wishing to utilise the communication channels found within social media. On these sites, many messages are passed on, as influencers use online media such as emails, chat groups, personal websites and consumer ratingsites(Thomas,2004;64). However,therearesomeaspectsthatthecompanyshouldpaycloseattentionto,andthese are relevant to all of the social media tools used in a marketing strategy, because there are some risks involved when engaging social media. Companies should choose wisely between thevarioussocialmediatoolsandservices,purelybecausetherearemanyandthecompany shouldfocustheireffortsintheareaswithmanypotentialcustomers(ComputerEconomics Report, 2010; 8). Furthermore, it is good practice to generate policies stipulating what a company can and cannot share in online settings (Computer Economics Report, 2010; 8), because a company may not want to share all of its information with the consumers and competitors. Another important aspect of social media is that it is a dynamic environment, andnewtoolscandisappearalmostasquicklyastheyenteredthevirtuallandscape,making socialmediabasedmarketingveryunpredictable(KaplanandHaenlein,2009;6465). An increasing number of people are participating in the various discussion forums (Andreassen et Streukens, 2009; 250), and because of the sheer number of potential

44

consumers online, the Internet has seen consumers and companies carry out an increasing amountofonlinebusiness(HoffmanetNovak,1996;51;KorgaonkaretWolin,1999;53).This isthemajorreasonwhymanycompanieswishtounleashthepossibilitiesofferedbysocial media. However, if marketers want to influence online word of mouth messages through social media tools, they must develop deep knowledge about the sites where messages are likelytobegenerated.However,companiesmustalsotakeintoaccounttheideathatseveral of the social media tools are very alike and overlap, a trend that will be developed in the followingsectionsnarratingtheusesofsocialmediatools. 4.7.1 OnlineCommunities An online community can be defined as: A wide range of Internet forums including markets and auction sites, electronic bulletin boards, listservers, social networking sites, blog hosts or sites,gamingcommunities,andsharedinterestWebsites(Milleretal.,2009;306).Interaction inonlinecommunitiesoccurswheneverpeopleconnectwitheachotheronthecomputer,via Internet networks, with the intention of sharing information regarding buying, selling, collaboratingoradviceseeking(WilliamsetCothrel,2000;81).Theinteractionbetweenthe consumers is a major driver of the growth in online communities (Pitta and Fowler, 2005; 269). Online communities offer consumers an opportunity to socialise and share their opinions, experiencesandknowledgewithfellowconsumersandInternetusers.Thesecommunitiesact as an arena to obtain and exchange information about products, and share general information. On social networks, it is easy to develop relationships with likeminded people (Bickart & Schindler, 2001; 32). It has been shown that participation in online forums can haveaconsiderableimpactonconsumerbehaviour,andisexpectedtoincreasethenumberof productpurchases(Bickart&Schindler,2001;32). Companies can utilise online communities to gather a variety of data about the consumers, includingdataconcerningproductsatisfaction,degreesofbrandloyalty,changesincustomer attitudesanddesireforfutureproducts(PittaandFowler,2005;266).HagelandArmstrong (1997; 151) suggest that one way to increase profitability on the Internet is by creating communitiesforitscustomerstosocialisein.

45

Researchhasshownthattheinformationexchangedinonlinecommunitiesismorerelevant toconsumers(Bickart&Schindler,2001;33).Thisisbecausepeoplegenerallytendtotrust theinformationoriginatingfromfellowconsumersanditisnormallyperceivedasunbiased, genuineadvice.Thisisakeyreasonwhyonlinecommunitiesarelikelytobeamajorinfluence uponpeoplesproductpurchases(Bickart&Schindler,2001;32). 4.7.1.1 Blogs Blogsareutilisedtosharefeelings,opinionsandinformation,andtheirnumberhasincreased significantly over time (Huang et al., 2008; 351), and it is easy for blog readers to leave comments for the bloggers and thereby interact with them. Usually, a single person writes blogs,buttheyareoftenwrittenbygroupsofpeople,dependingupontheexactnatureofthe blog.Corporateblogsareagrowingphenomenon,duetothefactthattheyserveasauseful interactiveonlineadvertisingtoolforcompanies(ChoandHuh,2008;239).Theseblogsoffer companiesawaytointeractwiththeirtargetaudienceonamorepersonallevel.Huangetal. (2008;352)stressedthatblogsarebecomingverysignificantbecausetheyhavethepotential toaffectalargenumberofpeople.Blogsrepresentaonetomanycommunicationflow. 4.7.1.2 SocialNetworkingSites Asocialnetworkingsitecanbedefinedasbeinginitiatedby:asmallgroupoffounderswho sendoutinvitationstojointhesitetothemembersoftheirownpersonalnetworks.Inturn,new members send invitations to their networks, and so on (Trusov et al., 2009; 90). Social networking sites are one of the fastestgrowing areas of the Internet and have become enormouslypopular(Trusovetal.,2009;9092). An online social networking site makes it possible for people to create their own personal profile, which usually includes a personal profile picture, lists of interest and preferences, a presentationoftheuser,asectiontoshareopinionsandmuchmore.Thepersonalprofileis either available to the members of the network only, or can be open to public access if the userprefersthis.Insection4.5,itwasshownthatoneofthemotivesforgeneratingwordof mouth messages is selfenhancement. This is perfectly consistent with the enormous popularity of social networking sites built upon usercreated profiles as a way to enhance oneself.

46

Anonlinesocialnetworkingsiteallowsuserstodevelopandgrowanetworkoffriendsbuilt uponsocialorprofessionalinteraction(Trusovetal.,2009;92).Itistypicallyeasytoaddnew friendsbysendingafriendrequest,bysearchingonaparticularfriendsname,orbybrowsing apeopleyoumightknowapplication.Acquiringnewfriendsisoftencentraltodeveloping value for users, because it adds new content and increases the level of personal interest (Trusovetal.,2009;93).Incontrasttotraditionalmedia,Internetsocialnetworkingsitesare bothcentredontheuserandusergenerated(ZhangetDaugherty,2009;53). For marketers, online social networking sites offer a great opportunity to target a specific audience. All the users of a site are potential customers as long as they are exposed to advertisingwhileusingthesites,ultimatelygeneratingrevenueforthecompanies(Trusovet al., 2009; 93). Social networking sites represent a onetoone and onetomany communicationflow. 4.7.1.3 Forums Forums are online communities formed around a specific interest (Pitta and Fowler, 2005; 266) and are usually divided into specific topic areas. Within each area, users start forum threadsaboutdifferenttopics,andthesethreadscancontinueforyears,allowingnewcomers to read previous communication within the forum and learn from a wider knowledge base (PittaandFowler,2005;265).Forumsrepresentonetoone,onetomanyandmanytomany communicationflow. 4.7.2 ReviewsandRating Online consumer review is the sharing of information between consumers and online consumer reviews are rapidly growing in importance and popularity, as a fairly new and exciting product information channel (Chen & Xie, 2008; 478). Reviews are often detailed comments,andmanyecommercecompanies,suchasAmazon.comandDell.com,makeiteasy forpeopletoreviewproductsandsharetheiropinionswithfellowconsumers.Addingtothe appeal, a review is frequently combined with a rating system, often symbolised by stars (Bakeretal.,2007;225). Relatively new research investigating online consumer behaviour showed that 97,9 % of a group of customers participating in the study used customer reviews before making online purchases;furthermore,theyfoundthemtobecredibleandaccurate(DohetHwang,2009;

47

195).Reviewsarestartingtoplayaveryimportantroleininfluencingconsumerspurchase decisions (Chen & Xie, 2008; 477). It is evident that consumer reviews are one of the most important drivers of product sales and consumer purchase decisions, due to this popularity andimportance(Chen&Xie,2008,477478). Itisimportanttonotethatcompaniesdonotcontrolwhattheonlineconsumerreviewssay, andthisiswhytheymustrelyontheirproductbeinggoodenoughtogeneratepositiveonline wordofmouth.Companiesarestartingtounderstandtheimportanceofsellinghighquality products,inlinewiththetheorythatonlineinfluencersaremorelikelytogeneratepositive onlinewordofmouthiftheproductsatisfiestheirneeds.Inrelationtothis,onlineconsumer reviewsareadoubleedgedswordthat,ontheonehand,canbenefitthesellerand,onthe otherhand,hurttheseller(Chen&Xie,2008;487). Onlineconsumerreviewscanbeaverybeneficialmarketingtool.Itcaneffectivelygenerate product interest across a broad range of people, and companies should investigate the potentialofallowingconsumerstoshareandexchangeproductinformationandexperiences on online communities (Bickart et al., 2001; 38). Reviews and ratings represent manyto manycommunication. 4.7.3 MediaSharing Mediasharingsites,likeYouTube.comandSlideShare.net,makeitpossibleforconsumersto createandsharemultimediacontent.Internetuserscansharecontentsuchasphotos,videos and PowerPoint presentations, easily and quickly (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2009; 63), and consumershavealreadybecomeanimportantpartofthemediadistributionchain(Haridakis andHanson,2009;317). Media sharing sites are not limited by the time of day, and the significant advantage of the mediasharingsitesisthatconsumerscanviewthemultimediacontentatanyconvenienttime (HaridakisandHanson,2009;317). Companiescanalsocreatevideosfairlyeasilyanduploadthesetomediasharingsites,with the possibility of reaching a large number of consumers. Many of these media sharing sites (especially YouTube) host contact channels for several companies because of their

48

considerable popularity amongst users (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2009; 63). Media sharing representonetomanyandmanytomanycommunicationflow. 4.7.4 Email Emailoffersaquickandeasymethodforcommunicatingwithotherpeople,anditispossible to correspond with a large group of recipients at the same time. Therefore, emailing is extremely important for both organisational and interpersonal communication (Wang et al., 2009;93).Emailrepresentsonetomanycommunicationflow. 4.7.5 InstantMessaging Instant messaging can be defined as: a computer application that allows synchronous text communication between two or more people through the Internet (Huang and Leung, 2009; 675). Companies cannot directly interact with their target audience through instant messaging,butitisatoolthatmanyconsumersusetointeractwitheachotheronlineand,as aresult,instantmessagingrepresentsanotherwayinwhichpeoplegenerateonlinewordof mouthmessages.HuangandLeung(2009;675)stressthattheuseofinstantmessagingkeeps growingandthatitheavilyusedbyyoungerpeople.

49

5 ProcessModelofOnlineWordofMouth
The purpose of this chapter is to suggest a process model of online word of mouth, created afterlookingattheessentialsofthetheoryrelatedinchapters3and4.Theultimateaimisto proposeaprocessmodelofhowtouseonlinewordofmouthsuccessfully.Thischapteralso includes a case, which analyses how a company has utilised the process model to do online wordofmouth. Thischapterincludesfollowingsections: Aprocessmodelofonlinewordofmouth Theprocessmodelstepbystep Acase:SpringfeedConsultancyandDanishRedCross Thoughtsontheprocessmodel

5.1 AProcessModelofOnlineWordofMouth
The process model offers companies, who do not know how to do online word of mouth, a concretemodelofhowitcanbedonesuccessfully.Theprocessmodeloffersastraightforward approachforacompanytoutiliseonlinewordofmouthcommunication.Theintentionisnot tosurprisewithnewtheories,buttomakeonlinewordofmouthmoretangible,manageable andeasiertoapproach. Theprocessmodelconsistsofsevensteps,andendswithanevaluationofwhetherornotthe passalong effect has been successful. The process model of online word of mouth is illustratedinFigure4.

50

Figure 4 A Process Model of Online Word of Mouth (own creation)

51

5.2 TheProcessModelStepbyStep
Thefollowingsectionsarebuiltuponthebackgroundresearchofchapters3and4. 5.2.1 StepOne:IdentifyObjectives The first step is to identify the overall objectives of the company. The objectives represent whatthecompanywantstoachieve,orputdifferently,whatthecompanywantsitsendresult tobe. Itisimportanttoidentifytheobjectives,sincethatallowsthecompanytohaveaclearplanof where it is going and what it wishes to accomplish. Objectives also make it easy for the companytotrackandmeasuretheresultsduringthelaterstagesoftheprocessmodel. 5.2.2 StepTwo:IdentifyTargetAudience Thesecondstepoftheprocessmodelistoidentifythetargetaudienceofthecompany.The target audience is a particular group of people that the company intends to aim the online word of mouth messages at, and defines who the company wishes to sell its products or services to. Identifying the target audience is crucial, because the company needs to ensure thattherightpeoplehearandreadtheonlinewordofmouthmessages. The marketing strategy must highlight the difference between the target audience and the influencers.Asmentionedpreviously,thetargetaudiencerepresentsthegroupofconsumers thatthecompanywantstosellitsproductsorservicesto,andtheinfluencersareindividuals that the company wishes to encourage to pass on word of mouth messages to the target audience.However,thereisafinelinebetweenthetwogroups,becausetheinfluencerscan also, in some scenarios, be a part of the target audience. This occurs when, for example, an individual in the target audience is encouraged by influencers and passes on the word of mouthmessageviaablog.Thismemberofthetargetaudiencebecomesaninfluenceraswell, makingtheflowofinformationdynamicandmultifaceted. This step is central, because identifying the target audience is a fundamental precursor to makingthefollowingstepsintheprocessmodelasaccurateaspossible,andcompaniescan makemuchmoreprecisedecisionsinthefollowingsteps.Thethirdstep:Theidentificationof theinfluencersisespeciallyinfluencedbythemakeupofthetargetaudience.Thereasonfor

52

thisisthatthecompanyultimatelywantstoidentifytherightinfluencersforpersuadingtheir targetaudience. 5.2.3 StepThree:IdentifyandSelecttheInfluencers This step concerns identifying and selecting the influencers who are most able to influence thechoicesofthetargetaudiencebysharingtheirknowledgewithlisteners.Aswasfoundin section 4.3, influencers are able to influence a wider group of people and their purchase behaviour,sothecompanymusttakefulladvantageofthisprocess,andtheinfluencersmust match the companys target audience if they are to reach the right people. As was found in section 4.3.1, the influencers recommendations are much more effective than those made directlybythecompany,sotheinfluencersmustbeidentifiedandtargeted. Whattobeawareofwhenidentifyingtheinfluencers Inreferencetosection4.4,thecompanymustidentifytheindividualswhoactivelycreateand spreadmessagesaboutproductsandservicestotheirfellowconsumers.Thecompanymust understand exactly who these influencers are, encouraging them to pass on online word of mouthmessageslateronintheprocessmodel. Thecompanymustalsokeepinmindthatinfluencerspossessseveralcharacteristics.These characteristicsareelaborateduponinsection4.3andsection4.3.1,whichincludedtheidea that influencers have great product knowledge, innovative product adopters and are truly involvedwithinspecificproductcategories.Theidealinfluencerstomeetthecompanysaims shouldbewellinformed,respected,andwellconnectedandacknowledgedintheirnetworks. The company should bear in mind that the influencers do not always meet the traditional perceptionofleadersinsociety,butareinfluencersbecauseoftheiruniquecompetenciesand abilities. Furthermore, the company might find that the influencers are part of some of the influentialgroupsdescribedinsection4.3.2. The company should be aware that influencers are not merely a few highly connected individuals,andshouldunderstandthatmanypeoplearepotentialinfluencers,asdiscussed insection4.4.Thismeansthatinfluencersarepotentiallyalargergroupofpeopleratherthan anelite,privilegedfew.Identifyingtheinfluencershasmuchtodowiththeexacttopicandin whichproductcategoryitlies.Asaresult,theidentificationoftheinfluencersoftendepends

53

upon which product category the company operates in, dictating which people have the highestlevelofknowledgeaboutthecompanysparticularproductcategory. Howtoidentifytheinfluencers Inorderforthecompanytoidentifyandselecttheinfluencers,thecompanyshouldgoonline andlearnwhatpeoplearesayingabouttheparticularcompanyorproduct. Thecompanycanidentifytheinfluencersinthefollowingways: Findoutwhereonlineconversationstakeplace;inwhichonlinevenuesdopeopletalk aboutthecompanyanditsproductorservice? Find out who the most active talkers are online. As suggested in section 4.4, if the company intends to target the right people, it must spend some time understanding whotheimportantpeopleare,whowillhavethestrongestimpactonotherpeople,and whoismostlikelytogeneratewordofmouthmessagesaboutthecompanysproduct orservice. Monitoronlineconversationsaboutthecompanyanditsproduct.Aswasmentionedin section 3.6.4, the fact that word of mouth happens online gives the company the advantage of observing consumertoconsumer conversations as they unfold. In contrast, this is much more difficult to monitor with traditional word of mouth. The company shouldutilisethegreatadvantages givenbybeingable tomonitor peoples conversations,astheycanlearnalotofusefulinformationwiththistactic. Building upon the previous suggestion, the company should also monitor online conversations about the companys product category and find out what people are sayingingeneral. Thisstepisimportantbecause,ifthecompanywantswordofmouthmessagestospread,it mustidentifythepeoplewhomostactivelyspreadmessagesaboutthecompanysproductto other people, as stated in section 4.4. This step is also important, because influencers often havearelativelylargenetwork,asdescribedinsection4.4,andthecompanyideallywantsthe wordofmouthmessagestoreachasmanypeopleinthetargetaudienceaspossible,another important reason for identifying influencers. If the company fails to identify the right

54

influencers,thewordofmouthmessagewillnotbepassedontotheintendedtargetaudience andthecampaignwillnotbeaseffectiveasthecompanywouldwish. 5.2.4 StepFour:SelectCommunicationChannels Thisstepisaboutselectingwhichcommunicationchannelsthecompanywishestoutiliseto spreadtheonlinewordofmouthmessages.Thecompanyshouldchoosethecommunications channelscontainingmanyinfluencers,allowingthemtohavemoreopportunitytoreachthis group. As it was mentioned in section 4.7.1.2, social media tools make it possible for the companytotargetaparticulargroupofpeople. Section4.4showedthatitisimportantforthecompanytohaveaproperunderstandingofthe chosencommunicationchannelinwhichthecompanysproductispopular.Thecompanycan thenutilisetheoptimumcommunicationchannelstoconnectwiththeinfluencersandbuild relationshipswiththem. Thisstepisimportantbecauseitisherethatthevastmajorityofonlinewordofmouthtakes place.Inrelationtosection4.7,itisthroughonlinemediathattheinfluencerspassonwordof mouthmessagesandtheseplacesarealsowherethelistenerstakenoteofthemessages.This stepisalsoimportantforlayinggoodfoundationsforthenexttwostepsintheprocessmodel of online word of mouth, which are to get the influencers to talk and the listeners to listen. Thecorrectcommunicationchannelsmustbechosenifacompanyintendstobesuccessfulin thefollowingsteps.Asrelatedinsection4.7,thecommunicationchannelsunlocknumerous possibilities for the company, because it is able to reach a great percentage of the target audience with relatively little effort. It is a huge advantage for the company if different communication channels are found to effectively generate product interest and increase productpurchases,inrelationtosection4.7. 5.2.5 FifthStep:GettheInfluencerstoTalk Thisstepfocusesongettingtheinfluencerstotalk.Section3.1highlightedtheideathatword of mouth is about the natural exchange of information through conversations between consumers. In addition, it was found in section 4.5 that people primarily have the desire to helpeachotherbecauseitishumannaturetodoso.Whatthecompanymustdoistotake advantage of this information exchange process, by turning it to its advantage. What the

55

companyideallywantsistohelpthisnaturalcommunicationprocessalong,byencouraging theinfluencerstotalk. Inordertogettheinfluencerstotalk,thecompanymustbeawareofwhatmotivatesthemto spreadwordofmouthmessages.Whenthecompanyhasanunderstandingofwhatmotivates thisprocess,thecompanywillhaveaclearerideaofwhatitmustdoinordertoencouragethe influencerstotalk.Influencersmaybeinspiredtopassonwordofmouthmessagesthrough additional motives, such as commitment and perceived value, as was suggested upon in section4.5. The company can find out what motivates its selected influencers by observing how these influencerscommunicateonlineor,aswassuggestedinsection4.4,ifthecompanyhasmade a visitor survey on its website, it can directly ask in the survey what motivations drive the websites visitors. The company may not build a completely accurate picture with this method, because the visitors do not represent a crosssection of the potential pool of influencers. However, a wellconducted survey may serve as good indicator of underlying motivations. Even if the company finds that the influencers are especially motivated by, for example, productinvolvement,thecompanyshouldmakeanefforttoencouragetheinfluencerstotalk basedaroundtheothermotives,becausethismightencouragetheinfluencerstoincreasethe amountofinformationtheyshare. Thefollowingaresuggestionsaboutwhatthecompanycandoinordertoencourageonline wordofmouthcommunication,basedonthedifferentmotives: ProductInvolvement Thecompanycanattempttoencouragethedegreeofsatisfactionamongtheinfluencersand stimulate the spread of online word of mouth messages to the related networks. This corresponds with findings from section 4.5, which suggested that satisfaction and good experiences with a company and its product are very likely to generate positive word of mouthmessages.

56

As mentioned in section 4.4, the company could also aim at forging longterm relationships withtheidentifiedinfluencers,providinganotherincentiveforthemtobecomeinvolved.This is consistent with the characteristics of online influencers elaborated upon in section 4.3.1, whereresearchshowedthatinfluencersarecharacterisedbytheirdeepinvolvement. The company can do the following to encourage the spread of online word of mouth messages: Provide the influencers with additional information about the product that is interesting to talk about positively. This could be, for example, excellent customer service, great deals on the companys product, or a range of similar benefits. This is consistent with the elaboration of perceived value in section 4.5, where it was found thattheinfluencersaremorelikelytospreadpositivewordofmouthtotheirnetwork iftheyreceivemorebenefitsthantheyinvested. Establish the companys presence online. This might give the influencers a sense of connectionwiththecompanyandcreateloyalty.Asshowninsection4.4,thecompany can easily meet the influencers online through the communication channels; the company can answer any questions the influencers might have and forge a strong, dynamic connection with the influencers. In relation to section 4.7.1.1 this could for examplebecorporateblogs,whichallowthecompanytoengagewiththeinfluencers onamorepersonallevelandareabletoaffectalotofpeople. The company can participate in online conversations and provide trustworthy and unique information to persuade the influencers in relation to section 4.4. If the companyistrulyhonestandsinceretotheinfluencers,listeningtothemandactively reactingtowhattheysay,theinfluencersmayfeelmoreconnectedtothecompanyand also more committed, especially if the influencers feel that they have a valued relationship with the company. A company might generate this goodwill by showing consumersthatitcaresaboutitscustomersandvaluestheiropinions.Asspecifiedin section 4.5, commitment often encourages word of mouth messages because, if influencersarecommittedtoacompanyanditsproducts,theyaremorelikelytospeak positivelyaboutittotheirnetwork. Listentowhatissaidaboutthecompanyinonlinecommunitiesandrespondtoit.If somethingneedstobechanged,thecompanyshouldtakeactionandrectifytheissue,

57

swiftly. This will signal that the company takes its costumers seriously and that it reactstowhattheyhavetosay.Section4.5showedthatthebetteraproductorservice offered by a company, the higher the level of customer satisfaction, with a resulting higherlikelihoodofgeneratingwordofmouthcommunication. Givetheinfluencerstheproductintheirhands,allowingthemtotalkaboutitonline.In this way, the company combines traditional advertising with online word of mouth. Thecompanycantrytogivetheinfluencersapositiveexperiencewiththeproduct,as mentioned in section 4.4, and offering a free product/product sample to the influencers will create positive feelings towards the company and should generate positivewordofmouth. AltruismandSocialBenefits The company can facilitate the process of getting the influencers to talk by doing the following: Withreferencetosection4.4,thecompanycanestablishasystemthatmakesiteasy fortheinfluencerstorecommendthecompanysproductandforthelistenerstoread the recommendations. In this way, tools could be created to make it easy for the influencerstosharetheiropinionswiththetargetaudience.Thiscouldbe,forexample, creating a sendtoafriend functionality for social networking sites, mobile devices andothersocialtools.Thecompanycoulddesignratingsystemsormakeitpossibleto writeconsumerreviews,anideaelaborateduponinsection4.7.2. The company can create a specific website to provide trustworthy and exclusive information, hopefully persuading the influencers to talk. As highlighted in section 3.3.2,itispossibleforthecompanytohaveadialoguewiththeconsumersonline,and thecompanymustusethistoitsadvantage.Section4.7.1showedthat,bycreatingan onlinecommunity,thecompanymakesiteasierforitscustomerstosocialiseandshare interests, encouraging influencers to pass on their recommendations, exchange information and good advice. Finally, a community makes it possible to develop relationshipswithpeoplewhosharesimilarinterests.

58

Selfenhancement Asmentionedinsection4.5,someinfluencersliketoenhancetheirselfesteembyappearing to be competent and smart consumers, ultimately impressing their peers. If this is the case, thecompanycanusethefollowingtactic: Providetheinfluencerswithadditionalinformationaboutthecompanyanditsproduct orservice.Forexample,thiscouldbebyofferingtheinfluencerselectronicnewsletters containingexclusivenews.Section4.5showedthattheinfluencersareencouragedto givethelistenersadviceandwillmakeagreaterefforttotalkwhentheiradviceiswell received. If the influencers have additional information about the company and its productorservice,theyhavemoreinformationthanotherconsumers,makingiteasier forthemtoappearinformed. Ingeneral Atthisstage,thecompanymustpayspecialattentiontothelinebetweennaturallyoccurring wordofmouthandpaidforadvertising.Theintentionbehindgettingtheinfluencerstotalkis toavoidturningthemintowhatcouldeasilybemistakenforpaidadvertisersoraffiliates.If the influencers become perceived as such, this could be very unfortunate, because it risks turningconsumersagainstthecompany.Thisstepisdesignedtoencouragetheinfluencersto keep on doing what they already do; generate sincere word of mouth messages and share themwiththeirnetwork.Section3.1showedthatgenuinewordofmouthhasnocommercial bias and is not paid for by a company. On the contrary, word of mouth messages are personally motivated and are part of peoples natural conversations; the company wants to encourage this to happen, organically. Therefore, an important point for the company to rememberisthat,whentryingtoencouragetheinfluencerstotalk,undernocircumstances shoulditpaytheinfluencerstopassonthewordofmouthmessages,becausethisiscertainly not genuine word of mouth communication and can backfire. In relation to section 4.4, the companymustnotpushthemessagesoutinaonewayflowbutengageinadialoguewiththe influencersinordertoencouragethemtogeneratewordofmouth.

59

Thisstepholdsgreatimportancebecause,inordertodoonlinewordofmouthsuccessfully, themessagesmustspreadandreachtheintendedtargetaudience.Thisiswhythecompany dependsupontheinfluencerstalking,andmustidentifytherightinfluencerstoperformthis step.Asuccessfulspreadoftheonlinewordofmouthmessagesdependsontheinfluencers sendingthemtoasmanyofthelistenersaspossible. 5.2.6 SixthStep:GettheListenerstoListen Itmustbenotedthatthelistenerscanbeboththetargetaudienceandinfluencers.Ifsomeof the target audience also turns out to be influencers, this is a positive development for the company.Section4.1.1showedthatinfluencersarealsoinfluencedbyotherpeople,sothey aresignificantinbothspreadingandreceivinginfluenceinadynamiccommunicationflow. Generaladvantagesforthecompany Whenthecompanywantsthelistenerstolisten,ithassomedistinctadvantages.Section3.4 showed that online listeners are characterised by their tendency to actively search for information online. This is why listeners, in general, are more open to the information that they hear and read. However, organisations should not take unfair advantage of this openness, simply because people are often easily annoyed if they receive spam emails or similarhardselltechniques,andmayfeelexploitedbythisbehaviour,asexplainedinsection 3.5. Moreover,itisanadvantagethatmostlistenersprefertolistentofellowconsumersinsteadof advertisers,asfoundinsection3.2.Thisisbecauseconsumerstrusttheirfellowconsumers much more than they trust advertisers and, since trust still is present in online settings, as explainedinsection4.6andsection4.7,thecompanystillhastheadvantage.Relatedtothis principleisthefundamentalideathatthewordofmouthmessagesmustbegenuinelycreated by the influencers and should not be sent directly by an organisation. The company must remember that the people listen to word of mouth messages because they believe that the influencersaretellingthetruthaboutthecompanysproductorservice.Whatthecompany can do is to lay the best ground for making the listeners feel as if they are in a safe environmentonline,aplacewheretheyfeelthattheycantrusttheinfluencerstobecredible, asdiscussedinsection3.2.

60

Themotivationsofthelisteners In order to get the listeners to listen, thecompanymustpay close attention to whatfactors motivatepeopletolistentoonlinewordofmouth.Asitwaselaborateduponinsection4.6, people tend to listen to word of mouth messages if they believe that the influencer is genuinely interested in their wellbeing. The listeners are also motivated to listen when the influencerappearstobeexperiencedorknowledgeableinthefield. Section4.6showedthatthecompanyitselfmusttakeresponsibilityforreducingtheriskthat the listeners perceive if they are to trust that the information they receive is valid and impartial. The company should appear to be as trustworthy as possible, with no hidden agendathatcouldeasilyscarethelistenersoff. Thecompanycandothefollowinginordertogetthelistenerstolisten: Thecompanycanmakeapresenceonline.Thiswillshowthatthecompanywantsto connectwithitstargetaudience;thisshouldcreateasenseoftrustworthiness. If the company participates in online conversations, this signals to the listeners that thecompanycaresaboutthem.Inthelongrun,thismayalsocreatearelationshipof trustbetweenthecompanyandthelisteners. Asrevealedinsection4.6,thecompanycanencourageormakeonlinecommunitiesfor thelisteners,creatingatrustrelationship. Inordertoreducerisk,thecompanycanprovidethepossibilityofmakingconsumer reviewsandratings.Thisisinconsistencywithsection4.7.2,whichsaidthatreviews playasignificantroleinconsumerspurchasedecisions. Interestingmessages Anotheraspectthatthecompanymustbeawareof,whentryingtopersuadethelistenersto listen,isthattheonlinewordofmouthmessagesmustbeworthlisteningto.Ifthecontentof the message is empty, the listeners simply refuse to hear it. Section 4.5 suggested that, if a productwasofhighquality,orreliableanddurable,itwouldcreatepositivewordofmouth communication.Ifthecompanysproductorservicecanliveuptothisideal,thecontentofthe wordofmouthmessagesshouldbeinterestingandrelevanttoconsumers.

61

5.2.7 SeventhStep:TrackandMeasureResults At this step, the company should track and measure the results it has achieved so far. The companyshouldevaluatewhetherornottheabovestepsoftheprocessmodelofonlineword of mouth have been followed correctly, allowing them to gauge the level of success. Put simply,didthepreviousstepshavethedesiredimpact? Inordertofindout,thecompanycanreflectuponthefollowingtwoquestions.Thisshouldbe completed before the company moves further into the process model: Is the passalong effectsuccessful?andArethecompanysobjectivesreached? Tracking and measuring, or observing and monitoring, can answer the two questions, and establishiftheonlinewordofmouthmessagesareflourishinginthechosencommunication channels,aswellasrevealingwhetherthetargetaudienceispickingthemupornot. It is important to track and measure the companys results and look at whether or not the companyreachedtheobjectivesitmadeinthefirststepoftheprocessmodel,establishingthe successoftheprevioussteps. SuccessfulPassAlong Ifthecompanycanansweryestothetwoquestions,thepassalongeffecthasbeenvisibleand the companys objectives achieved, the company has been successful in using the process modelofonlinewordofmouth. UndesiredPassAlongEffect Ontheotherhand,ifthecompanyfindsthatithasnotyetreacheditsobjectivesandthepass along effect has not been successful, the company should answer the following questions, allowingittofindoutwheretheproblemoccurred.If,forexample,theproblemwasthatthe propercommunicationtoolswerenotchosen,thisisthestepthatthecompanyshouldfocus onsolving.Itshouldalsorevisitthestepsthatfocusonmakingtheinfluencerstotalkandon gettingthelistenerstolisten,becausetheproblemmayalsoaffectthesestages. The company finds the problem by going back through the process model and finding out wheretheproblemarises.

62

Optimising Whenthecompanyhaslocatedatwhichsteptheproblemlies,itshouldoptimiseitseffortsat thatstageandcorrecttheproblem.Thecompanymustrestartfromthatstepintheprocess modelofonlinewordofmouthandcontinuetofollowthemodel.

5.3 ACase:SpringfeedConsultancyandDanishRedCross
The purpose of this section is to apply the process model of online word of mouth with a contemporarycase.Todoso,thisthesisanalyseshowacompanyisusingtheprocessmodel of online word of mouth in order to spread the word about a campaign via online word of mouth. The company is called Springfeed Consultancy, which is a company that develops mobile solutions,andadvicesindevelopmentaswellasmarketcharacteristicsofthegrowingmobile industry(www.springfeed.com). Danish Red Cross is a humanitarian movement, which works, among others, for the protectionofhumanlifeandtopreventandalleviatehumansuffering(www.drk.dk). Atthemoment,SpringfeedConsultancyiscooperatingwithDanishRedCrossonagamefor mobilephones.ThegameiscalledAfricaNeedsWater,andthepurposewithitistocreate awareness about the campaign and to raise money to Danish Red Cross via online word of mouth. The game itself is free to download, so there is no expense involved for the users, except if they choose to donate money to Danish Red Cross. The game is free of charge in ordertoretaintheusers. TheusersspreadthewordaboutthecampaignandthegamebysendinganSMSoremailtoa friend. A link to the game is combined with the SMS and email. The online word of mouth messagealsospreadsviasocialnetworks,whichinthiscasewillbeFacebookandTwitter. The campaign is still under development but it is getting launched within the following months. Specificsoftheconductedinterview,thegameandotherinformationaboutthecompanyand thecampaignusedinthefollowinganalysiscanbefoundinappendix2.1,2.2and2.3.

63

SpringfeedConsultancyandTheProcessModelofOnlineWordofMouth The following elaborates upon how Springfeed Consultancy follows the steps of the process modelinordertodoonlinewordofmouth.Whetherornotthecompanywillbesuccessfulis stillunknown,astheyareintheprocessoflaunchingthecampaign.However,thefollowing providesanexampleofhowacompanyhasgonethroughthestepsintheprocessmodelin ordertodoonlinewordofmouth. IdentifyObjectives: Based on data from Statistics Denmark, Comscore and Gartner, which all provide marketing insights and data, the company has found that there are approximately 500.000 750.000 potential users to the mobile game. These users are consumers, who own a mobile phone, which is usable for games, and consumers who has utilised the Internet on their mobile phoneswithinthelastthreemonths,paidviaSMSandplayedgamesontheirphones. The company has made the objective to reach 6080 % of the potential users within a time periodoffourmonths. Finally,thecompanysgoalconcerningthepassalongeffectisthatthisismorethan1forthe first 3040 % of users. After this point the company assumes the group of users will be wearingoff,andtheadoptionofnewuserswillnolongerbeexponential. IdentifyTargetAudience: The company has identified its target audience to be active mobile phone users, which the company also calls innovators and early adopters. This audience is between 1530 years of ageandaretypicallyusersofhighendsmartphones,suchasAndroidandiPhones. Withtime,thecompanywillfocusonusersbetween1540yearsofage,whousesmartphones suchasNokiaS60,BlackBerry,Samsungetc.Thecompanycallsthisaudienceearlymajority. Intheend,thecompanywilltargetusers,whouselowendfeaturephones,suchasolderSony EricssonandSamsungphonesetc.Thecompanyreferstothisaudienceaslatemajority. IdentifyandSelectInfluencers:

64

Some of the companys target audience and influencers overlap. The company expects that someoftheinnovatorsandearlyadoptersaregoingtoinfluencetheearlymajorityandlate majority through a onetoone communication flow. The reason why, is that the innovators andearlyadoptersfinditeasytoinstalltheapplicationontheirmobilephonesandtheyare abletohelpothersinstallingthegame.Inconsistencywithstepthreeoftheprocessmodel,in section 5.2.3, these influencers have particular product knowledge about the mobile application. WhenDanishRedCrosslaunchescampaigns,itusuallygetsalotofattentionfromthemedia. This is also expected to be the case with this campaign. This is why the company has identified other influencers to be bloggers/journalists, who are going to blog about the campaign. Danishcelebritieshavealsobeenidentifiedasinfluencers.Thereasonwhy,isbecauseseveral celebrities are already connected to Danish Red Cross as ambassadors, and they are often promotingnewcampaigns.Inthiscase,celebrities/ambassadorsfromDanishRedCrossare alsopromotingtheAfricaNeedsWatercampaigninordertoinfluencethelisteners. Both the bloggers/journalists (connoisseurs) and the celebrities are consistent with the influentialgroupsfoundbyDichter(1966)insection4.3.2. SelectCommunicationChannels: Thecompanyhaschosendifferentcommunicationchannelsinordertogettheonlinewordof mouth message to spread. In consistency with step four, section 5.2.4, the company has chosen communication channels in accordance with where the identified influencers are. Theseincludesocialmediatoolssuchassocialnetworkingsitesandconsumerreviewswhere theinnovatorsandearlyadoptersespeciallyareassumedtobepresentandblogs,wherethe bloggerswillbepresent. Theonlinemessageispartlypassedonviatheusersmobilephones.Theapplicationcontains a sendtofriend functionality using SMS and email. This way, the individual user has the possibility to be both target audience and influencer, if he/she passes on the message. This communicationflowisonetoonecommunication,whichcanspreadrelativelyquicklyinan onlinesetting.

65

As already mentioned, the company has also chosen blogs and social networks as communication channels. By doing so, the communication flow will in this case be oneto many. Thecompanyalsocreatesawebsitewithadditionalinformationaboutthecampaign.Thisis incoherencewithstepfouroftheprocessmodel,insection5.2.4.Thewebsitealongwiththe social networks will most likely be a part of building relationships between the influencers and the campaign/company. The website is being promoted via Facebook and Twitter from theapplicationonthephone. Finally, the company also utilises consumerrating systems, which exist on the various applicationstores.Thecompanydoesnotchoosetheratingsystemspersonally,buttheyarea mandatory part of the application stores. In order for the mobile game to achieve a high rating,thecompanyiswellawareoftheimportanceoftheapplicationstoworkproperlyand thattheusabilityishighaswellasthegameitselfisreasonable.Theconsumerratingsystems representamanytomanycommunicationflow. Finally,thecompanycombinesonlinewordofmouthwithtraditionalmarketingmethods,as the celebrities (ambassadors) will be exposed on TV. The company has chosen to do so in ordertoenhancetheonlinewordofmouthmessages. GettheInfluencerstoTalk: The company strives to make it easy for the users to share information about the mobile applicationinordertogettheinfluencerstospreadtheonlinewordofmouthmessage.Todo so,thecompanycontinuouslykeepontestingandoptimisingtheusabilityinordertomake theproduct/applicationasgreataspossible.Thisiscompatiblewithstepfive,section5.2.5, which stated that if a product is of high quality and reliable, this stimulates word of mouth communicationaboutaproduct. Furthermore,thecompanymakessuretocoverthefourmainmotivesforpassingonwordof mouthmessages: Altruism:TheSendtoafriendfunctionalitymakesiteasytosendthemessagetofriends. Furthermore,asmentioned,thecompanycreatesawebsitewithadditionalinformationabout

66

the campaign including pictures, videos etc., with the purpose for bloggers/journalists and ambassadorstorefertoandcollectadditionalinformationaboutthecampaigntopasson. Influencersmayalsobeencouragedtospreadthewordaboutthemobileapplicationbecause of the charity part of it that it aids people in need. This also makes the overall online messageabouttheapplicationtospread. Socialbenefits:Thewebsite,whichthecompanycreates,alsoincludesawindowthatshows picturesofpeoplewholikesthisfromFacebook.Iftheuserofthewebsiteatthesametime is logged on his/hers profile on Facebook, it is possible to see pictures of ones Facebook friendsinthiswindow.Onthiswebsite,itisalsopossibletolinkvideosoftheapplicationto various blogs. In the application, there is also a sharethis on Facebook and Twitter, or a likethisonFacebook.Whattheusersshareisalinktothiswebsite,whichthecompanyhas createdforthepurpose.Bysharingproductinformationonsocialnetworksthisalsocreates tiesandsolidaritybetweentheusersandthesocialnetworkoffersaplacewhereuserscan socialiseandexchangeinformation. Productinvolvement: The company makes it possible to discuss the mobile application via the social networking site, Facebook, with other users. Furthermore, the company also providesadditionalinformationabouttheproduct/applicationonFacebookandthewebsite, sotheinfluencershaveextrainformationabouttheproducttotalkabout. Selfinvolvement: By utilising social networks and sendtofriend functionality the influencers at the same time signals to its surroundings that he/she contributes to a humanitarian organisation like Danish Red Cross. The influencers can also signal through discussions on Facebook that they have knowledge about this product/application to the surroundings,andthusappearascompetentcustomers. Finally,anadditionalmotive,perceivedvalue,isalsocovered.Asthemobileapplicationitself isfreeofcharge,theusersmostlikelywillfeelthattheyarereceivingmorebenefitsfromthe mobileapplicationthantheyhaveinvested. GettheListenerstoListen:

67

In consistency with step six, section 5.2.6, the company reduces any risk involved in downloadingandinstallingtheapplicationsbysigningitwithacertificate.Thecompanydoes soinordertopreventpeoplefromnotdownloadingandinstallingtheapplications. The company also enhance the credibility online by creating a website about the campaign, whichishostedandrunbyDanishRedCross.AnonlinepresencebyDanishRedCrosscreates atrustworthyenvironment,andthewholecampaignappearscredible. Theconsumerratingsystemsintheapplicationstoresalsoreducerisk,thelistenermightfeel, asthelistenerscanseehowhigharatingthemobileapplicationhasreceivedandwhatother usersaresayingabouttheapplication. Furthermore,thesendersmobilephonenumberandemailaddressesareusedintheSMSor emailinordertomaketheseappearmorecredibleandtrustworthy.Inthiscasethesender andreceivertypicallyknowoneanother,whichaddstothelistenerbeingconfidentthatthe influencerisgenuinelyinterestedinthelistenerswellbeing.Inaddition,passedonmessages hasanalreadymadetext,howeverthiscanbeadjustedbytheinfluencerinordertomakeit morepersonalandbemorerelevanttothelisteners. Thecompanyalsoremovesanyobstaclesthatmayoccurinrelationtologgingonorsigning upinordertostartthegame.Thecompanystrivestomakethemobileapplicationassimple aspossible. TrackandMeasureResults: AlinkinanSMSoremailhasatrackingid,whichmakesitpossibleforthecompanytotrack andmeasuretheresultsofthecampaign.Thistrackingidtellsthecompanywhomandwhat hassentthemessage. Bydoingso,thecompanygetsinformationonalltheplatformsabout: Howmanyinvitationsauserhassent Whenthemessagewassent Whenthemobileapplicationwasdownloaded Whichmobilephonethemessagewassentfrom Identificationofwhichmobilephonethemobileapplicationwasinstalledon

68

Whothemessagewassentto Whichoperatorswereutilisedinthetransaction

In relation to Android, BlackBerry and iPhone it is possible for the company to track and measurehowoftenthemobileapplicationisutilisedandforhowlong. Finally, the company can store server side who donated via SMS. In agreement with Danish RedCross,thecompanydoesnotpassonanysensitiveinformationabouttheusers. Asitappearsfromtheabove,allthestepsoftheprocessmodelhavebeenimportanttothe companytoputintopractice.Inotherwords,thecompanyhasnotfounditrelevanttoskip anyoftheminordertoencouragewordofmouthmessages.Howsuccessfulthecompanywill be in encouraging online word of mouth messages is still unknown, as the campaign is still underdevelopment.Butthiscaseservesasanillustrationofhowacompanyhasutilisedthe processmodelinordertocreateawarenessandraisemoneytoDanishRedCross.

5.4 ThoughtsontheProcessModel
Thestepsoftheprocessmodelhaveasimilarstructureasthetheoryfromchapter3and4. Thereasonwhyisthattheprocessofthethesishasbeeniterative,whichiswhythetheory and the steps naturally will take the same structure. This way, the understanding and readabilityshouldbecomebetterandmoreunderstandable. Theparticularorderofthestepshasbeenfoundvalidbecauseoftheirinterdependence.The analysed case supports the order of the steps, as the company follows the steps in its campaign. However, the process model can be characterised as being general, in the sense that how SpringfeedConsultancyutilisedthemodel,isnotnecessarilythesamewayanothercompany shouldutiliseit.Thisdependsonwhichobjectivesaparticularcompanyhasidentified.Inthe sameway,thesocialmediatoolshavedifferenteffectsandshouldbeutilisedaccordinglyto whattheobjectivesare. Theprocessmodelprovidescompanieswithatheoreticalbackgroundonhowonlinewordof mouthcanbeusedsuccessfully.Theprocessmodelprovidescompanieswithadeeperinsight into the online word of mouth communication. Several companies make the mistake of

69

focusing heavily on the particular social media tools rather than identifying the right influencers and looking deeper into the subject, by including relationships with the consumers, having conversations with them and listening to what they have to say. In contrast,thisisincludedintheprocessmodelofonlinewordofmouth.

70

6 Conclusion
This thesis elaborated upon the subject of online word of mouth communication, and developing a process model based upon the main focus. This thesis also included other aspects,whicharehighlyrelevantinrelationtoonlinewordofmouth.Thisthesisanswered the problem definition by suggesting a process model of online word of mouth based upon acceptedtheoriesandanalysedhowacompanyhasutilisedtheprocessmodelinordertodo onlinewordofmouth.

6.1 MainFindings
Word of mouth communication is a powerful mechanism because it directly affects consumers.Itispersonallymotivatedandspontaneous;itisnotplannedbutisanaturalpart of peoples daily conversations. It is a valuable source of information and a persuasive communication tool, reducing any doubts that the listeners may have. This way, both traditional and online word of mouth communication can influence peoples buying behaviours,aswellasinfluencefinalpurchasedecisions,andithasastrongeffectonthelevel of new customer acquisition. Trust, credibility and personal relevancy are the major forces behindthepowerofwordofmouthcommunication. Word of mouth communication has been given new importance because of new communications technology, which allows word of mouth to take place in an online setting, moving considerably faster and reaching a larger audience. The online setting allows consumerssharingthesameintereststointeractandpassononlinewordofmouthmessages, even to strangers, as the communication flow is multiple. The communication flow is more complexinanonlinesettingbecauseitisfeasibletoreachamuchlargergroupofpeople.In anonlinesetting,itispossibletocommunicateonetoone,onetomanyandevenmanyto many.Atthesametimethecommunicationisalsobidirectional,bothbetweentheconsumers, but also in the sense that it is possible for companies to engage in conversations with their targetaudienceandreachconsumersveryquickly.

71

In general, online word of mouth does not lose any of its source credibility or inbuilt trust between consumers, even though online word of mouth has no facetoface element. Recommendations are still judged as being trustworthy and credible, simply because they originate from fellow consumers with no wish to manipulate listeners. However, trust must be earned over time in some cases, and people are evaluated according to their ability to contributetoconversations.Itisimportantforthecompanytocreatetrustandcredibilityin an online setting, given that the level of confidence between consumers and companies is extremelyimportanttoonlineclients.Inadditiontothis,onlineconsumersaregenerallyvery opentoonlinewordofmouth,becausetheyactivelysearchforrelevantinformationonline. Both traditional and online word of mouth communication are much more influential than traditional marketing methods. However,asitwasseenin thecase,SpringfeedConsultancy combinedtraditionalmarketingmethodswithonlinewordofmouthinordertocreateabuzz. Companies utilising the process model can with advantage include traditional marketing methodsaswellasapartofencouragingwordofmouthcommunication. Viralmarketingisaspecifictypeofwordofmouthcommunicationandisbuiltuponcreating epidemicgrowthandtargetingasmanypeopleaspossible.Contrarytoonlinewordofmouth, whichconsistsofgenuinemessagesofadvice,viralmarketingcanbecategorisedasmarketer initiated advertising, subtly different from consumerinitiated word of mouth. Creating epidemicgrowthwithonlinewordofmouthmessagesisdesirable,ifthisisabletotargetthe righttargetaudience. Influencershavebeenfoundtobeofgreatimportance,becausetheyarealinkbetweenmass mediaandindividuals,givingadviceandrecommendationstolistenersthroughonlineword of mouth messages. This is a major reason why influencers are important for any company wishing to use online word of mouth successfully. Companies can identify influencers according to the background of their unique characteristics and who are the most active talkersonline.Companiesencourageinfluencerstopassonwordofmouthmessages.Asitis seeninthecase,influencerscanfurthermoreactashelperstothelisteners.Becauseoftheir high product knowledge, influencers can help the listeners with basic problems concerning theproduct.

72

A main finding concerning the nature of influencers is that they are not restricted to elite socialgroups.Influencersareverylikelytobedrawnfromamoderatelyconnectedmajority of people, implying that companies should pay attention to this when they try to identify onlineinfluencers. It is important that the company recognise that it is the influencers who generate word of mouthmessagesandnotthecompany.Thecompanycannotcontrolwordofmouthmessages, butitcantrytoinfluencetheprocess,inthebestpossibleway,byencouragingthespreadof the messages. What the company wants is to encourage the natural information exchange processesoccurringbetweenconsumersonadailybasis.Relatedtothisidea,itisvitalthat thelistenersandinfluencersdonotfeelexploitedbythecompany;theymustnotdevelopthe impression that the messages were marketer initiated. This will backfire and may well hurt theimageofthecompany.Trustisoftheessenceandthecompanymustmaintainanethical approachtoitsstrategy. Influencersaremotivatedtogeneratewordofmouthmessagesforseveralreasons.Especially altruism, selfenhancement, social benefits and product involvement have been found to be motives for passing on messages. These motives, especially product involvement, coincide with the characteristics of the influencers. Motives for listening to word of mouth messages includes risk reduction, genuine advice giving and knowledgeable influencers. In relation to thecase,SpringfeedConsultancymadesuretocoverallthemainmotivesforpassingonand forlisteningtoonlinewordofmouth.Thismightbeanadvantageforanycompanytodo,asit canbedifficulttofindoutwhatexactlymotivatestheinfluencers. Socialmediatools,thetruefoundationofspreadingonlinewordofmouthmessages,theyall makeitveryeasyforconsumerstoshareideas,opinionsandrecommendations,andtheexact socialmediatoolortoolsthatthecompanyshouldutilisedependsuponwherethecustomers andinfluencersmeetandshareideas.Thisway,socialmediahaveamplifiedtheimportance and level of online word of mouth communication. Social media tools can be used to great advantage. The various social media tools provide different results. It depends on what the companysobjectivesare.However,itisimportanttorememberthatonlinewordofmouthis still about people and not merely about utilising social media tools. It is important to

73

understandthat,associalmediatoolsrapidlychange,consumerswillremainthesame.They willstilllookfortraditionaltrustandcredibilityintheonlineenvironment. Inordertoharnessthepowerofonlinewordofmouthsuccessfully,thisthesisshowedthatit is important for the company to 1) identify objectives, 2) identify the target audience, 3) identifyandselectinfluencers,4)selectcommunicationchannels,5)getinfluencerstotalk,6) get the listeners to listen, 7) track and measure results; each of these steps are of equal importance. None of the steps could have been excluded, as they were interdependent. The process model provides important guidelines for any company, who do not know how, to utiliseonlinewordofmouth.Howonecompanyutilisestheprocessmodelisnotnecessarily thesamewayanothercompanywouldutiliseit,becausethedifferentstepsdependsonwhat the companies objectives are. The different influencers and the different social media tools, createdifferentresults. Itisimportanttokeepinmindthatonlinewordofmouth,firstandforemost,isaboutpeople, and it is the influential people who pass on the word of mouth messages. Therefore, it is essential to understand these consumers and listen to their needs and wants, responding accordingly to these desires if word of mouth is to be encouraged. Online word of mouth is aboutconsumerparticipationandinvolvement.

6.2 SuggestionsforFurtherResearch
Itisreasonabletoassumethatonlinewordofmouthwillbecomeevenmorerelevantinthe future.Thisispartlybecausemorecompanieswillrealisethelatentpowerofwordofmouth messages,andpartlybecauseofthepossibilitiesthatnewtechnologygrants.Socialmediais continuinglyincreasingincomplexityandscope,somanycompanieswanttobeapartofthe development. The process model of online word of mouth has been made on the background of theory. Furtherresearchcouldtakeafewdifferentdirections: Theprocessmodelofonlinewordofmouthhasonlybeentestedbyonecompany.Itis suggested that it will only improve the model, if more companies tested the model, becausehowtheprocessmodelisutiliseddependsontheobjectivesofthecompany.

74

Thiswillmakeiteasiertoadjustpossiblefaults,andrefineandoptimisetheprocess model. Onlinewordofmouthisstillafairlynewsubjectforresearch,andmoresocialmedia toolsandnewliteratureappearseverymonth.Thisiswhynewknowledgecanbeused toimprovetheprocessmodelinthefuture. As the subject of online word of mouth will increase in the future, more research concerningcombiningonlinewordofmouthwithtraditionalmarketingstrategieswill reapdividends.

75

7 References
Allsop,D.T.,Bassett,B.R.,Hoskins,J.A.(2007).WordofMouthResearch:Principlesand Applications.JournalofAdvertisingResearch,Vol.47,No.4,pp.398411. Andersen,I.(2003).Denskinbarligevirkelighedvidensproduktionindenfor samfundsvidenskaberne.Samfundslitteratur,2.Udgave,2.Oplag Andreassen,T.W.,Streukens,S.(2009).Serviceinnovationandelectronicwordofmouth:isit worthlisteningto?ManagingServiceQuality,Vol.19No.3,pp.249265. Arndt,J.(1967).Wordofmouthadvertisingareviewoftheliterature.NewYork:Advertising researchfoundation AugustodeMatos,C.,Rossi,C.A.V.(2008).WordofMouthcommunicationsinmarketing:a metaanalyticreviewoftheantecedentsandmoderators.JournaloftheAcademicMarketing Science,Vol.36,pp.578596. Baker,A.,Rajagopalan,B.,Parameswaran,R.(2007).ExplainingConsumerRatingsinOnline RecommenderSystems.AmericanMarketingAssociation,Vol.18,pp.225226. Bayus,B.(1985).WordofMouth:TheIndirectEffectsofMarketingEfforts.Journalof advertisingresearch,Vol.25,No.3,pp.3139. Beckmann,S.C.,Bell,S.(2001).Viralmarketing=wordofmouthmarketingontheInternet? (AndacasestoryfromtheNordiccountries).CopenhagenBusinessSchool,pp.15. Belch,G.E.,Belch,M.A.(2007).AdvertisingandPromotion.AnIntegratedMarketing CommunicationsPerspective.McGrawHillInternationalEdition.SevenEdition. BezjianAvery,A.,Calder,B.,Iacobucci,D.(1998).NewMediaInteractiveAdvertisingvs. TraditionalAdvertising.JournalofAdvertisingResearch,Vol.38,No.4,pp.2333. Bickart,B.,Schindler,R.M.(2001).Internetforumsasinfluentialsourcesofconsumer information.JournalofInteractiveMarketing,Vol.15,No.3,pp.3140. Brooks,R.B.Jr.(1957).WordofmouthAdvertisinginSellingNewProducts.TheJournalof Marketing,Vol.54,No.3,pp.154161. Buttle,F.A.(1998).Wordofmouth:understandingandmanagingreferralmarketing.Journal ofStrategicMarketing,Vol.6,No.3,pp.241254. Chen,Y.,Xie,J.(2008).OnlineConsumerReview:WordofMouthasaNewElementof MarketingCommunicationMix.ManagementScience,Vol.54,No.3,pp.477491.

76

Cheung,M.Y,Luo,C.,Sia,C.L.,Chen,H.(2009).Credibilityofelectronicwordofmouth: Informationalandnormativedeterminantsofonlineconsumerrecommendations. InternationalJournalofElectronicCommerce,Vol.13,No.4,pp.938. Cho,S.,Huh,J.(2008).CorporateBlogsasaFormofeWOMAdvertising:AContentAnalysisof SourceCredibilityandInteractivityinCorporateBlogs.AmericanAcademyofAdvertising ConferenceProceedings,pp.239241. ComputerEconomicsReport(2010).SocialMediaUseRemainsEarlyStageintheEnterprise. Vol.32,No.2,pp.614. DeBruyn,A.,Lilien,G.L.(2008).Amultistagemodelofwordofmouthinfluencethrough viralmarketing.InternationalJournalofResearchinMarketing,Vol.,25,pp.151163. Dellarocas,C.(2003).TheDigitizationofWordofMouth:PromiseandChallengesofOnline FeedbackMechanisms.ManagementScience,Vol.49,No.10,pp.14071424. Dichter,E.(1966).HowWordofMouthAdvertisingWorks.HarvardBusinessReview,Vol.44, No.6,pp.147166. Dobele,A.,Toleman,D.,Beverland,M.(2005).Controlledinfection!Spreadingthebrand messagethroughviralmarketing.BusinessHorizons,Vol.48,No.2,pp.143149. Doh,S.J.,Hwang,J.S.(2009).HowConsumersEvaluateeWOM(ElectronicWordofMouth) Messages.CyberPsychology&Behavior,Vol.12,No.2,pp.193197. Duan,W.,Gu,B.,Whinston,A.B.(2008).TheDynamicsofOnlineWordofMouthandProduct SalesAnEmpiricalInvestigationoftheMovieIndustry.JournalofRetailing,Vol.84,No.2,pp. 233242. Dwyer,P.(2007).Measuringthevalueofelectronicwordofmouthanditsimpactin consumercommunities.JournalofInteractiveMarketing,Vol.21,No.2,pp.6379. East,R.,Hammond,K.,Lomax,W.(2008).Measuringtheimpactofpositiveandnegativeword ofmouthonbrandpurchaseprobability.InternationalJournalofResearchinMarketing,Vol. 25,No.3,pp.215224. Eccleston,D.,Griseri,L.(2008).HowdoesWeb2.0stretchtraditionalinfluencingpatterns. InternationalJournalofMarketResearch,Vol.50,No.50,pp.591161. Feick,L.F.,Price,L.L.(1987).TheMarketMaven:ADiffuserofMarketplaceInformation. JournalofMarketing,Vol.51,No.1,pp.8397. Fisher,T.(2009).ROIinsocialmedia:alookatthearguments.DatabaseMarketing& CustomerStrategyManagement,Vol.16,No.3,pp.189195. Flynn,L.R.,Goldsmith,R.E.,Eastman,J.K.(1996).OpinionLeadersandOpinionSeekers:Two NewMeasurementScales.JournaloftheAcademyofMarketingScience,Vol.24,No.2,pp.137 147. Gildin,S.Z.(2002).UnderstandingthePowerofWordofMouth.RevistadeAdministracao Mackenzie,Vol.4,No.1,pp.91106.

77

Gilje,N.,Grimen,H.(2002).Samfundsvidenskabernesforudstningerindfringi samfundsvidenskabernesvidenskabsfilosofi.Kbenhavn:HansReitzelsForlag. Godes,D.,Mayzlin,D.(2004).UsingOnlineConversationstoStudyWordofMouth Communication.MarketingScience,Vol.23,No.4,pp.545560. Godin,S.(2001).UnleashingtheIdeavirus.NewYork:Hyperion. Goldenberg,J.,Libai,B.,Muller,E.(2001).TalkoftheNetwork:AComplexSystemsLookatthe UnderlyingProcessofWordofMouth.MarketingLetters,Vol.12,No.3,pp.211223. Goldsmith,R.E.,Horowitz,D.(2006).MeasuringMotivationsforOnlineOpinionSeeking. JournalofInteractiveAdvertising,Vol.6,No.2,pp.116. Goldsmith,R.E.,Flynn,L.R.,Goldsmith,E.B.(2003).InnovativeConsumersandMarket Mavens.JournalofMarketingTheoryandPractice,Vol.11,No.4,pp.5464. Gruen,T.W.,Osmonbekov,T.,Czaplewski,A.J.(2006).eWOM:Theimpactofcustomerto customeronlineknowhowexchangeoncustomervalueandloyalty.JournalofBusiness Research,Vol.59,No.4,pp.449456. Hagel,J.,Armstrong,A.G.(1997).NetGain.ExpandingMarketsThroughVirtualCommunities. TheMcKinseyQuarterly,No.1,pp.140153. Haridakis,P.,Hanson,G.(2009).SocialInteractionandCoViewingWithYouTube:Blending MassCommunicationReceptionandSocialConnection.JournalofBroadcasting&Electronic Media,Vol.53,No.2,pp.317335. Helm,Sabrina(2000).ViralMarketingEstablishingCustomerRelationshipsbyWordof Mouse.ElectronicMarkets,Vol.10,No.3,pp.158161. HennigThurau,T.,Gwinner,K.P.,Walsh,G.,Gremler,D.D.(2004).Electronicwordofmouth viaconsumeropinionplatforms:whatmotivatesconsumerstoarticulatethemselvesonthe Internet?Journalofinteractivemarketing,Vol.18,No.1,pp.3852. Hoffman,D.L.,Novak,T.P.(1996).MarketinginHypermediaComputerMediated Environments:ConceptualFoundations.JournalofMarketing,Vol.60,No.3,pp.5068. Hogan,J.E.,Lemon,K.N.,Libai,B.(2004).QuantifyingtheRipple:Wordofmouthand AdvertisingEffectiveness.JournalofAdvertisingResearch,Vol.44,No.3,pp.271280. Huang,H.,Leung,L.(2009).InstantMessagingAddictionamongTeenagersinChina:Shyness, Alienation,andAcademicPerformanceDecrement.CyperPsychology&Behavior,Vol.12,No.6, pp.675679. Huang,J.H.,Cheng,Y.F.(2006).HerdinginOnlineProductChoice.Psychology&Marketing,Vol. 23,No.5,pp.413428. Huang,L.S.,Chou,Y.J.,Lin,C.H.(2008).TheInfluenceofReadingMotivesontheResponses afterReadingBlogs.CyberPsychology&Behavior,Vol.11,No.3,pp.351355.

78

Hung,K.H.,Li,S.Y.(2007).TheInfluenceofeWOMonVirtualConsumerCommunities:Social Capital,ConsumerLearning,andBehavioralOutcomes.JournalofAdvertisingResearch,Vol. 47,No.4,pp.485495. Kaplan,A.M.,Haenlein,M.(2009).Usersoftheworld,unite!Thechallengesandopportunities ofSocialMedia.BusinessHorizons,Vol.53,pp.5968. Katz,E.,Lazarsfeld,P.F.(1955).PersonalInfluencethepartplayedbypeopleintheflowof masscommunication.FirstFreePress. Keller,E.(2007).UnleashingthePowerofWordofMouth:CreatingBrandAdvocacytoDrive Growth.JournalofAdvertisingResearch,Vol.47,No.4,pp.448452. Kiecker,P.,Cowles,D.(2001).InterpersonalCommunicationandPersonalInfluenceonthe Internet:AFrameworkforExaminingOnlineWordofMouth.TheHaworthPress,Vol.11,No. 2,pp.7188. Korgaonkar,P.,Wolin,L.(1999).AMultivariateAnalysisofWebUsage.JournalofAdvertising Research,Vol.39,No.2,pp.5368. Kozinets,R.V.,Valck,K.D.,Wojnicki,A.C.,Wilner,S.J.S.(2010).NetworkedNarratives: UnderstandingWordofMouthMarketinginOnlineCommunities.AmericanMarketing Association,Vol.74,pp.7189. Lam,D.,Mizerski,D.,Lee,A.(2005).CulturalInfluenceonWordofMouthCommunication. AmericanMarketingAssociation,Vol.16,pp.910. Leskovec,J.,Adamic,L.A.,Huberman,B.A.(2007).TheDynamicsofViralMarketing.ACM TransactionsontheWeb,Vol.1,No.1,pp.246. Lewis,R.,Mobilio,L.,Phelps,J.E.,Raman,N.(2005).UnderstandingPassAlongEmails: MotivationsandBehaviorsofViralConsumers.InC.P.Haugtvedt,K.A.Machleit,R.F.Yalch, ed.OnlineConsumerPsychologyUnderstandingandInfluencingConsumerBehaviorinthe VirtualWorld.NewJerseyLondon:PsychologyPress.Ch.3. Lyons,B.,Henderson,K.(2005).OpinionLeadershipinaComputerMediatedEnvironment. JournalofConsumerBehaviour,Vol.4,No.5,pp.319329. Mason,R.B.(2008).Wordofmouthasapromotionaltoolforturbulentmarkets.Journalof MarketingCommunications,Vol.14,No.3,pp.207224. Miller,K.D.,Fabian,F.,Lin,S.J.(2009).StrategiesforOnlineCommunities.Strategic ManagementJournal,Vol.30,No.3,pp.305322. McKee,D.,Simmers,C.S.,Licata,J.(2006).CustomerSelfEfficacyandResponsetoService. JournalofServiceResearch,Vol.8,No.3,pp.207220. McWilliam,G.(2000).BuildingStrongerBrandsthroughOnlineCommunities.Sloan ManagementReview,Vol.41,pp.4354.

79

Moorman,C.,Zaltman,G.,Deshpande,R.(1992).Relationshipsbetweenprovidersandusers ofmarketresearch:TheDynamicsofTrustwithinandbetweenOrganizations.Journalof MarketingResearch,Vol.29,No.3,pp.31428. Myers,J.H,Robertson,T.S.(1972).DimensionsofOpinionLeadership.JournalofMarketing Research,Vol.IX,pp.4146. Nisbet,E.C.(2005).TheEngagementModelofOpinionLeadership:TestingValidityWithina EuropeanContext.InternationalJournalofPublicOpinionResearch,Vol.18,No.1,pp.330. Phelps,J.E.,Lewis,R.,Mobilio,L.,Perry,D.,Raman,N.(2004).ViralMarketingorElectronic WordofMouthAdvertising:ExaminingConsumerResponsesandMotivationstoPassAlong Email.JournalofAdvertisingResearch,Vol.44,No.4,pp.333348. Pitta,D.A.,Fowler,D.(2005).Internetcommunityforums:anuntappedresourceforconsumer marketers.JournalofConsumerMarketing,Vol.22,No.5,pp.265274. Rogers,E.M.(2003).DiffusionofInnovations.NewYork:FreePress Schindler,R.M,Bickart,B.(2005).Publishedwordofmouth:Referable,consumergenerated informationontheInternet.InC.P.Haughtveds,K.A.Machleit,Yalec,K.A.,ed.Online ConsumerPsychologyUnderstandingandInfluencingConsumerBehaviorintheVirtualWorld. NewJerseyLondon:PsychologyPress.Ch.2. Sernovitz,A.(2009).WordofMouthMarketing.NewYork:KaplanPublishing. Smith,T.,Coyle,J.R.,Lightfoot,E.,Scott,A.(2007).ReconsideringModelsofInfluence:The relationshipbetweenConsumerSocialNetworksandWordofMouthEffectiveness.Journalof AdvertisingResearch,Vol.47,No.4,pp.387397. Stern,B.B.(1994).ARevisedCommunicationModelforAdvertising:MultipleDimensionsof theSource,theMessage,andtheRecipient.JournalofAdvertising,Vol.23,No.2,pp.515. Sun,T.,Youn,S.,Wu,G.,Kuntaraporn,M.(2006).OnlineWordofMouth(orMouse):An ExplorationofItsAntecedentsandConsequences.JournalofComputerMediated Communication,Vol.11,No.4,pp.11041127. Sundaram,D.S.,Mitra,K.,Webster,C.(1998).WordofMouthCommunications:A MotivationalAnalysis.AdvancesinConsumerResearch,Vol.25,No.1,pp.527531. Thomas,G.M.(2004).Buildingthebuzzinthehivemind.JournalofConsumerBehaviour,Vol. 4,No.1,pp.6472. Trusov,M.,Bucklin,R.E.,Pauwels,K.(2009).EffectsofWordofMouthVersusTraditional Marketing:FindingsfromanInternetSocialNetworkingSite.JournalofMarketing,Vol.73,No. 5,pp.90102. Villanueva,J.,Yoo,S.,Hanssens,D.(2008).TheImpactofMarketingInducedVersusWordof MouthCustomerAcquisitiononCustomerEquityGrowth.JournalofMarketingResearch,Vol. XLV,No.1,pp.4859.

80

Wang,J.,Chen,R.,Herath,T.Rao,H.R.(2009).Visualemailauthenticationandidentification services:Aninvestigationoftheeffectsonemailuse.DecisionSupportSystems,Vol.48,No.1, pp.92102. Ward,J.,Ostrom,A.(2002).MotivesforPostingNegativeWordofMouthCommunicationson theInternet.PublishedinExpandingtheScopeofWordofMouth:ConsumertoConsumer InformationontheInternetbyBickart,B.,Schindler,R.M.AdvancesinConsumerResearch, Vol.29,pp.428430. Watts,D.J.,Dodds,P.S.(2007).Influentials,Networks,andPublicOpinionFormation.Journal ofConsumerResearch.Vol.34,pp.441458. Weiman,G.,Tustin,D.H.,Vuuren,D.,Joubert,J.P.R.(2006).Lookingforopinionleaders: Traditionalvs.ModernMeasuresinTraditionalSocieties.InternationalJournalofPublic OpinionResearch,Vol.19,No.2,pp.173190. Williams,R.L.,Cothrel,J.(2000).FourSmartWaysToRunOnlineCommunities.Sloan ManagementReview,Vol.41,No.4,pp.8191. Windahl,S.,Signitzer,B.,Olson,J.T.(2009).UsingCommunicationTheory.London:Sage. SecondEdition. Zang,J.,Daugherty,T.(2009).ThirdPersonEffectandSocialNetworking:Implicationsfor OnlineMarketingandWordofMouthCommunication.AmericanJournalofBusiness,Vol.24, No.2,pp.5363. Zeithaml,V.A.(1988).ConsumerPerceptionsofPrice,Quality,andValue:AMeansEndModel andSynthesisofEvidence.JournalofMarketing,Vol.52,No.3,pp.222. SpringfeedConsultancyinformation,retrievedMay18th http://www.springfeed.com/about/?lang=da DanishRedCrossinformation,retrievedMay18th http://drk.dk/om+roede+kors/organisation/rde+korsorganisationen

81

Appendix1
DEFINITIONS: Traditional word of mouth can be defined as: Oral, persontoperson communication between a receiver and a communicator whom the receiver perceives as noncommercial, concerningabrand,aproduct,oraservice(Arndt,1967;3). Online word of mouth can be defined as: Any positive or negative statement made by potential,actual,orformercustomersaboutaproductorcompanywhichismadeavailabletoa multitudeofpeopleandinstitutionsviatheInternet(HennigThurauetal.,2004;39). Viralmarketingcanbedefinedas:Viralmarketingisinitsessenceacommunicationstrategy thatusesideas,slogans,catchphrasesandiconsoracombinationhereoftotransmitamessage concerning a product as fast and as widespread as possible within a given target group. It is oftenpartofabrandingstrategyanditusuallyseekstoaddressopinionleadersandoftenalso earlyadopters(Beckmann&Bell,2001;1). Social media can be defined as: Social Media is a group of Internetbased applications that buildontheideologicalandtechnologicalfoundationsofWeb2.0,andthatallowthecreation andexchangeofUserGeneratedContent(KaplanandHaenlein,2009;61). Influencers can be defined as: The individuals who were likely to influence other persons in theirimmediateenvironment.(KatzandLazarfeld,1955;3).

82

Appendix2.1
Informationaboutthecampaign,SpringfeedConsultancyismakingincollaborationwithDanish RedCross. Introduktion DettedokumenthartilformlatbeskriveDRKspilletsopbygning,afhngighedersamt planlgning.Determentsomhjlptilfllesforstelseforhvordanoghvadderskal produceresogikkesomenegentligspecifikation.

Figur 1 Livscyklus for applikationen

Sidenavigeringoglayout Vropmrksompatenkelteelementerafhngerafhvilkentelefonbrugerenbenytter.

83

Forside Frstesidebrugerenserforklarermedbaggrundsbilledetatdether erenkampagneforvand.Ellerserderikkeandetendetlogofor DRKsamtflgendeknapper:


Startspillet,derfrerbrugerentilselvespillet Vildusttte?,derfrerbrugerentilstttefunktion.Deter vigtigattekstenafspejleratdererflerevalghereftersledes atbrugerenikkeernervsforatklikkepknappen. Vidstedu?,derfrerbrugerentilvidstedufakta Spredbudskabet,derfrerbrugerentilmulighedforatdelespil


medandrebrugere

Omos,derfrerbrugerentilinformationomkringDRKog SpringfeedConsultancy
Afslut,derafslutterapplikationen

Spillet Selvespilleterdeltopitodele. Navigering Navigeringenmedknapperergemtunderselvespillet.Nr brugerenbenyttersoftbutton(menuknapper)ellerreturknappen, vilflgendemenupunktervises:


Genoptagspillet

Vildusttte?,derfrerbrugerentilsttteside Spredbudskabet,derfrerbrugerentilspredbudskabside Tilbage,derfrerbrugerentilbagetilforsiden

Gameplay Selvespilleterbyggetoppflgendemde:

Etglasibundensamlerfaldende objekterop.Brugerenstyrerglasset fremogtilbagemedhjre/venstre navigeringstast,ellervedattrkkei glassetpentouchskrm. Derer4typerfaldendeobjekter,2der tllerpointopf.eks.2strrelser vanddrber,og2dertllernedf.eks. mudrededrberderindikererat vandeterforurenet.

84

Pointdersamlesvisessompengei verstevenstrehjrne. Iverstevenstrehjrnevisesentrist lilledreng.Joflerepointdesgladere bliverhan. Drbernefaldermedstigende intensitet. Nrbrugerenertrtafatspille trykkerhanpensoftbuttoneller returknappen.

Vildusttte? SidengiverbrugerenmulighedforatsttteviaSMSelleropkald. Detervigtigtatforklarebrugerenprcishvadderskernrder trykkespknapperne. Sidenerbyggetoppdennemde:

Indledendetekstderfortlleratvedatklikkepknappen SendSMSherundervilderblivesendtenSMSmed tekstenDRKtil1231fraapplikationen,dervilblive trukket100krgennemoperatrenogatbrugerenvil modtageenSMSsombekrftelsepdonationennrden ergetigennem.iPhonebrugerevilffortaltatdeskal skriveDRKfrdesenderbeskeden.


SendSMSknap

Tekstderfortlleratbrugerenogskanringeoptilen automatisktelefonsvarerp90565654ogdonere100kr
Ringopknap

EfterensuccesfuldSMSafsendelseelleropkaldbliverbrugeren spurgtomikkehan/hunnskeratspredebudskabethvorefter brugerenhavnerpspredbudskabetsiden

85

Vidstedu? Sidenfortllerpsimpellisteform (overskrift,tekst,billede)forskelligefactsom vandogproblemeriAfrika.

Spredbudskabet Sidenbederbrugerenomatsprede budskabetomkampagnenogapplikationen. Detkanhan/hungrevedatsendeenSMS elleremailtilenvenhvoridereretlink, ellervedatdeledetpsocialenetvrk,i frsteomgangFacebook. Sidenerbyggetoppflgendemde:

Indledendetekstderfortllerhvor vigtigtdeteratfortlleandreom denneapplikationogkampagnen. Indledendetekstderfortlleratman kansendeetlinkdirektetilenvenved atbenytteknapperneherunder.Det


kosterkunprisenpenSMS. SendSMSknap Sendemailknap DelpFacebookknapderlinkerien browsertilm.facebook.com/sharer.php ellerfacebook.com/share.php

86

SendSMStilven Dennesideerafhngigafplatformenidetderskalkunnesgesp telefonnummerogbenyttesT9ordbogitekstfelter.Derer3


elementerpsiden: Modtagerfelthvorbrugerenkantilfjeettelefonnummer vedsgningellerskrivedirekte Tekstfeltmedstandarttekstsombrugerenkanndreforat fdettilatlydemerepersonligt Readonlylinktildownloadsiden

Sendemailtilven ForenkeltetelefonervildervremulighedforatsendeenemailistedetforSMS(iPhone, Android,BlackBerryogandre). DaviharmerepladsenienSMSvildervre

EnbeskrivendetekstderfortllerlidtomkampagnenogRdeKors Hvordanmaninstallererapplikationenptelefonen,herunderetlinkietikkeklikbart formatudentrackingkode,sledesatfolkderlseremailenpenikketelefonnemt kaninstallere. Klikbartlinktilfolkdererpentelefonkannemtinstallere

Omos SammelayoutsomiVidstedu,menmedinformationomDRKogSpringfeed. Downloadside(linkiSMS/email) Downloadsidenerdensidederprsenteresforbrugerennrdenneklikkerplinketsendt viaSMSellerlinketdervisesandetstedsogskaltastesdirekteindibrowseren. Subdomne Detervigtigtatviharetkortdomnenavn,f.eks.http://m.drk.dkfordidetskalpasseindien enkeltSMSogskalkunnetasteshurtigtindienbrowser. Indhold Downloadsidenskalvremobilvenlig,dvs.1)vreXHTMLW3Ccompliant2)kunvise absolutndvendigedata+grafik. Viskalviseflgendeindhold: Overskrift:VlgenafflgendeplatformeforatdownloadedetnyemobilspilfraDRK:

87

iPhone/iPodTouch:MedlinktilAppleAppStore. Android:MedlinktilAndroidMarket. Andretelefoner:MedlinktildirektedownloadafJavaMEapplikation. SidenbliverforhbentligtaldrigvistfordivilaveretHTTP302redirecttiletafovenstende afhngigafHTTPUserAgent.Mendetkanvreuseragenternogetviikkeforventer, brugerenvildownloadeviasinPCellertelefonenikkeundersttterHTTP302. Tracking Foratvikanoptimeredeviraleparameter,omderertelefonerderikkefungereretc.vilvi gerneloggedatavha.linkettildownloadsiden. DentelefondersenderenSMSstterdataomsigselvviadownloadlinketderlggesi SMSen.EnSMSkunnef.eks.sesledesud: HejPeter PrvdetnyespilfraDanskRdeKors.Klikplinketogdownloadspillet http://m.drk.dk?Gl3q2eHI755kke7HuskatfortlandreomdetogsttRdeKors! Kodenvilfortlle: Id Frste4karakterer Foratholdestyrphvemsenderhvormangebeskeder Random4cifregenereretfrstegangderstartes Sammenmeduseragent,tidspunktforinstallationskullegrerisikoenfor kollisionsminimal PlatformenderharsendtSMSen o Frstekaraktererfabrikanten,nste4ermodellen o Svikanseomdererplatformederikkeerreprsenteret,samthvilke platformedererinfluencerschoice o Derlavesetudtrkfraplatformensledesati=iPhone,m=Motorola,n=Nokia etc.efterfulgtatmodelnummer Tidspunktforinstallation o 3karakterer o I10minintervallerefterinstallationen Tidspunktforafsendelse o 3karakterer o I10minintervallerefterinstallationen Antalafsendtebeskeder o 1karakter o o o o

88

Serversideskalderloggesflgendedata: HTTPUseragent(svikansepopularitetenafforskelligeplatforme) IPadresse(foratidentificereoperatr) Tidspunkt

Ovenstendeloggesforhvertrequestoggrestilgngeligforossvikanlavestatistikker. ForAndroidogiPhonevilvibenytteFlurrytilatlavedetaljeredestatistikkerom brugsmnstre. Applicationstores Dererendelapplicationstorespmarkedetijeblikketderkandrivebrugere.Visatserp flgendeifrsteomgang: AndroidMarket(Google) AppleAppStore(Apple) GetJar(uafhngig) OviStore(Nokia) PlayNow(SonyEricsson) SamsungApps(Samsung) LGApplicationStore(LG)

Tidsplanogafhngigheder ViharflgendeafhngighedertilDRK: Tidsplan 15.maj:iPhoneapplikationenpbegyndes 20.maj:JavaMEapplikationengodkendesafDRK 23.maj:intensivtestafJavaMEapplikationenpleaddevices 23.maj:Androidapplikationenpbegyndes 28.maj:Downloadsitekrer 28.maj:Websitekrer 4.juni:iPhoneapplikationensubmittestilAppStore Downloadsideelleradgangtilsammesvikansikreosatsidenerfunktionelog mobilvenlig BilledmaterialeellerdesignudarbejdetafellersammenmedDRKsgrafikere Websidetilkampagnenderfortlleromkampagnenoghvordanmandownloader applikationen Applicationstoresskalgodkendeapplikationerneindendelggesop ApplikationentilJavaMEtelefonerneskaltestesogsigneresindendekanreleases

89

4.juni:JavaMEapplikationensendestiltestogsignering 18.juni:Releaseafwebsite,downloadsiteogapplikationer

18.juni:JavaM

90

Appendix2.2
PowerPointfromSpringfeedConsultancy

91

92

93

94

95

96

Appendix2.3
TranscriptfrominterviewwithJensVesti(partnerandconsultantinSpringfeedConsultancy). Theinterviewhasbeenrecordedandafterwardstranscribed. InterviewmadeMay2010 Interviewer:AnnChristinaSrensen(ACS)andInterviewee:JensVesti(JV) ACS:HiJens,thankyoufortakingthetimeansweringmyquestionsaboutthecampaignyouare makingincooperationwithDanishRedCross. JV:Youarewelcome! ACS:Canyoutellabitaboutthecampaignandwhatthepurposeofitis? JV: Sure! We are currently working on an application, which is a game that the users can download to their mobile phones and pass on to their friends as well. The game is quite simple and easy to use. The purpose of the game is to create awareness about the game, DanishRedCrossandtoraisemoney.ThecampaigniscalledAfricaNeedsWater,andthe mobile game is about gathering drops of water in a little cup and to miss polluted water. Depending on how good the user is to gather the fresh water, it is indicated in the top left corner how much money the user has gathered. The user can then choose to donate this moneytoDanishRedCross,torecommendthegametoafriend,toexitthegameetc. ACS: In the power point presentation, which I received from you, you state that you expect to reach 500750.000 potential users. Where did you come about these numbers? And how are thesepotentialuserscharacterised? JV:Well,wehavereachedthesenumbersonarathercomprehensiveresearchmadewithdata fromStatisticsDenmark,ComscoreandGartner.Theseusersarecharacterisedbyfirstofall owning a mobile phone, which can be used to play games on. The users have furthermore utilised the Internet on their mobile phones within the last three months and paid bills by SMS.Weareexpectingtoreach6080percentofthesepotentialuserswithin4months. ACS:Theseusersarealsoyourtargetaudience,howwouldyoudescribethem? JV: We have divided our target audience into 3 groups! The first group are innovators and early adopters. These are characterised by being active mobile phone users and they are typicallybetween1530yearsandnormallyusehighendsmartphones,suchasAndroidand iPhones,whicharerelativenewphonesonthemarket.Thisistheprimarygroupofourfocus. Thesecondgroupistheearlymajority.Theyare1540yearsold,andtheyusesmartphones suchasNokiaS60,BlackBerry,Samsungetc.Wefocusonthisgrouplateronintheprocess. Thethirdgroupisthelatemajority,whichwewilltargetintheendofthecampaign.Thelate majorityhaslowendfeaturephones,whichareolderSonyEricssons,Samsungsandthelikes.

97

ACS:Areyoutargetingbothfemalesandmales? JV:Yes!Ourgametargetsbothgenders! ACS:Whatdoyoudotogetpeopletoreturntoyourgame? JV:Wemakeusabilitytests! ACS:Whatisthat? JV:Usabilitytestsareabouthowwemaketheapplicationaseasytousefortheuser.Wetest thiswithrepresentativegroupsfromthetargetaudience. WealsouseFlurry,whichisastatisticsmodulethattellsussomethingabouttheusageofthe application.Howmanytimesdooneuserusesthisapplication,doeshepassthemessageon etc. ACS:Isitspecificinformation,ormoresuperficialinformationyoureceiveabouttheusers? JV: We have promised Danish Red Cross not to pass on sensitive information. We will not identifyaspecificuser,butwewillidentifytheinstallationoftheapplication.Sowecansay somethingabouthowmanyusersutilisetheapplication,howoftentheydonateandthelikes. ACS: So what are the particular elements that make a user to play the game over and over again? JV:Thegameiseasytoapprehend.Atthesametime,thegamechallengestheuser,soitisnot too easy to utilise. In the near future, we also include a social aspect, in the sense that it is possibleforfriendstochallengeeachotherwiththegametobeateachothersscores. ACS:Inyourpowerpointpresentationyoumentionthatyouwouldlikebloggersandjournalists, topassonthewordabouttheapplication.Arethereotherinfluentialpeopleyouhavethoughtof tocreateawarenessaboutthecampaign? JV: Definitely! First of all, the bloggers are important to pass on the word about the application.Wehaveexperiencewithbloggers,suchasjournalistsinthemobilefield,whoare alwaysveryinterestedinnewapplications.Andnow,especiallywithamobileapplicationin cooperationwithDanishRedCross,weexpecttobewrittenaboutintheblogs. DanishRedCrosshasseveralfamouspeopleconnectedtotheorganisationasambassadors. When Danish Red Cross does new campaigns, such as this one, these ambassadors are also utilisedtospreadtheword. And finally, we also have some people within the target audience, which we expect to be influential people. As the innovators and early adopters are skilled mobile users, some of themwillmostlikelyhelptheearlymajorityandlatemajoritywithinstallingtheapplication. ACS:Howaretheseinfluencerswithinthetargetaudiencegoingtoinfluencetheearlyandlate majority? JV:ViaSMSoremails,onFacebookandTwitter!

98

ACS:TheFacebooksite,isitgoingtobeafansiteofthecampaignandmobileapplication? JV: Yes thats correct! The fansite on Facebook is a place for the users, and additional informationwillalsobeavailablehere. ACS:Howarethefamouspeoplegoingtospreadtheword? JV:BasicallyonTV!Weimagineittobeone.g.GoodMorningDenmarkandthelikes. ACS:Iwouldalsoliketotalkaboutwhichchannelsyouareusingtospreadtheonlinewordof mouthmessages.Youhavealreadymentionedemails,blogsandsocialnetworkingsitessuchas FacebookandTwitter.Areyouexpectingtouseotheronlinechannels,suchasonlineconsumer reviews,ratings,forumsorthelikes? JV:Well,no,butIguesswedouseratingsystems,astheseareconnectedtotheappstores, where the mobile application can be downloaded its free. But we do not choose this ourselves, though, as they are a part of the app stores. However, we are aware of the importance of a good rating, which is why the application has to work properly and have a highusabilityandareasonablegame.Sowearecontinuallyworkingatsolvinganyproblems, which might occur with the use of the application. We keep testing it and optimising the usability.Wehavealsoremovedproblemsthatsometimesoccurwhenpeoplesignuporlog onagame. ACS:Yes,Iknowaboutproblemswithsigningupanditisprettyannoying! JV:Exactly!Peopleeasilygetannoyedandquicklyleavetheprogram,appetc.ifthereisany problem. This is what we are trying to avoid. So we make the application as simple as possible,andalsosigntheapplicationwithacertificate,sopeoplecanseetheauthenticityof it,aspeoplealsotendtobecomesuspiciousatdodgylookinglinks.Andwearetryingtoavoid thistoavoidtheuserfromnotinstallingtheapplication. ACS:Canyoutellmeabitaboutthewebsite,youarecreating? JV:Wecreatethewebsite,butitishostedandrunbyDanishRedCross!Thewebsitecontains supplementarytextsaboutDanishRedCross,ourcompany,thecampaignandthegameetc., so people can get more information about the game and the campaign. We also upload picturesandvideosforespeciallybloggersandjournalisttouse,iftheyarewritingaboutus.It isalsopossibletolinkthesevideostoblogs.Viatheapplicationonthephone,thewebsiteis promotedthroughFacebookandTwitter. We also integrate the website with Facebook! On the website we have a window displayed, withpicturesofsomeofthepeoplewhoarefansofthecampaignandgameonFacebook.If theusersatthesametimeenteringthewebsiteisloggedonhisprofileonFacebook,thenhe canseeallofhisfriends,whoarefansalready. ACS:Howareyougoingtotrackandmeasuretheresultslateronintheprocess? JV:WehaveatrackingidonthelinksintheSMSandemails.Thismakesitpossibleforusto trackthenumberofinvitationsaparticularuserhassent,howmanymessagesthathasbeen sent,whentheappllicationwasdownloade,whoitwassentto,identificationofwhichmobile

99

itwassentfrom,whichoperatorwereusedetc.Wecanbasicallyretrievealotofinformation fromthistrackingid.WealsostoreserversidethedonationssentbySMS! Wearealsoabletomeasurehowoftenanapplicationisutilisedandforhowlongtimewith phonessuchasAndroids,iPhonesandBlackBerries.WeuseFlurryforthis. ACS: But you havent tracked and measured your results yet, as the campaign is still under development? JV:Thatsright!However,weexpecttoreachourobjectives,andifwedont,wefindoutwhat theproblemisandtakeitfromthere! ACS: You mention creating a viral effect in your power point presentation. In my thesis I talk about a successful pass along in relation to how well the passing on of online word of mouth messages will be. Have you any idea concerning your passalong effect, if >1 represents a messagepassedon? JV:Yes!Ourgoalisdefinitelytobeabletoreachmorethanonewithapproximately3040%of thefirstusers.Wearepreparedthatthegroupofuserswillbewearingoffeventually,which meansthattheadoptionofnewusersnolongerwillbeexponential. ACS:Inwhatwayhastheprocessmodelcontrolledtheprocessofyourcampaign? JV: It has structured our view on how we identify our objectives and how we utilise influencers.Ithasgivenusvaluableinformation,especiallyabouttheroleoftheinfluencers. ACS:Hastheparticularorderofthestepsintheprocessmodelbeenimportant? JV:Ithasinourcase.Firstandforemostitisaboutfindingoutwhoourtargetaudienceis,to understandthisgroupandwhatwewanttoachieveinthefirstplace.Wehavefollowedthe stepsoftheprocessmodelinthatparticularorderandthishasworkedforus. ACS:Howwouldyouevaluatetheprocessmodel? JV: To us, the process model has made good sense to utilise, in order to find out how our campaign could spread via online word of mouth communication. However, the process model is more minded on campaigns and not on optimising our products. In this way, it is muchmoremarketingorientatedratherthanfocusingonproductdevelopment.However,we haveutilisedthemodeltofindoutwhattodowithourcampaign,andwehavegonethrough thestepsseveraltimes.Thisway,ithasbeenveryinformative. A usable point with the model is to focus on the target audience before thinking about the communication channels. We have many customers, who wish to use Facebook, for no particularreason.Whenweaskwhy,theyanswer;becausetheywanttoreachalotofpeople. Theydonotthinkabouttargetingtherightaudiencesorinfluencersatall.Thismodelmakes iteasierforustoexplaintoourcustomerswheretheyshouldputtheirmainfocus.Itcanbe veryexpensivetochoosecommunicationchannels,especiallyifthesearethewrongones. ACS:Thankyouverymuchforyourtimeandgoodluckwiththecampaign. JV:Cheers!

100