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Word of mouth, weak ties, and selfishness

Gord Hotchkiss write a great article in MediaPost about some of the key ideas underpinning how word of mouth travels:

  • Weak ties are important. Word of mouth only travels a short distance to people that you have strong ties with (family, close friends, co-workers).  For it to travel widely, it needs to be able to jump across week ties (loose acquaintances, random contacts) to fresh networks of people.
  • Selfishness matters. We won’t tell anyone If we think we’re going to lose out on a hot deal, or there is a scarce offer that we know about. You don’t tell anyone until after you score the great seats at the sold-out concert.
  • The web extends weak ties. When we recommend something online it is seen by tons of people that we have little or no relationship with.  Readers of a product review or blog post are really weak ties – you probably don’t know them.  But the web lets you influence them.
  • This stuff ain’t new.  Gord quotes studies from the ’70s and ’90s. The science of word of mouth has been around for a while.  We’re just finally putting it together into something we can work with.

Read the article here.

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