Bridging the traditional/social gap with WOM

There are many things that fascinate me about the communications space right now. Human behavior and social tools. The staying-power of great advertising. Yeah, there’s a list. And another line on there is the gap between the digital/social media kids and the “traditional” side of the house.

How many times have you heard the digital kids in your agency whine and moan about how the traditional PR/communications people “just don’t get” social. That they think it’s some plug-in tactics after everything is figured out. How the program would be so much better if social media had a seat at the table from the beginning. You know, when everything’s integrated.

But what I’ve found is that as much as that may be true, many of the social kids don’t really understand what “traditional” PR/communications people do. Like, at all. You’re probably nodding your head right now because you know it’s true. It’s not all press releases and pitching stories. It’s actually a WHOLE lot more than that. Just ask them.

So to be the Word of Mouth guy of the group has made me realize that WOM is the answer to bridging that gap between social and traditional. When my team and I talk about a word of mouth program or concept with the social kids, their eyes light up, because they can easily see the digital hooks. And when we have that same conversation with the traditional folks, they easily get it too, because it’s a natural extension of what they are already doing. (Yes, ideally everyone would be in the same room when that conversation happens, but one thing at a time.)

I’m not saying that WOM is always the magic bullet. But I AM saying that it can be the bridge. The word of mouth discipline has its feet firmly planted in both the online and offline worlds (this is the part where I remind you that 90% of word of mouth conversations still happen offline). Because, built the right way, WOM programs that engage people in remarkable experiences push people online. And the reverse is also true. It’s actually a cycle: online to offline and offline to online.

So when you’re starting to work on that new project or even when the word “integrated” comes up, remember that word of mouth can help bridge the gap between two worlds. It just may be the difference between just another campaign that falls flat and a powerful, successful engagement.

1 Comment

  • August 12, 2012


    hi spike: have you seen an ecosystem map of both sides of the spectrum and your WOM bridge?

    I am looking for an ecosystem that shows the ooodlles of tools people are using e.g. in QnA online communities i use Quora, but wondering what else is out there.

    Also given oodles of tools + increasing at rapid rate still in Aug 2012, sorta hoping for some segmentation of the tools from a “user experience” perspective

    For example: if we take online communities, they come in many different flavours and thus difference influence
    – professional communities
    – pure hang-out
    – QnA like Quora

    seen anything?

Leave a Reply