You’re talking to a friend, a coworker or a relative and they mention the “new” health concern they are experiencing, a place they’ve been to, a lover they have fallen for or a thing they bought — a gadget, an outfit, a car, a meal, etc. If you remember the last time you found yourself in this situation listening to a beloved or not so beloved newbie go on and on, maybe you can recall how you felt. Were you intrigued or excited? Was it a happy feeling or did you feel sad? Maybe a little jealous?
WoMO is Word of Mouth Online. Word of mouth has been a predominant way to spread ideas for ages and 90% of it happens offline. At the core, it’s about storytelling, creating a narrative that educates, entertains or informs, invoking strong feelings in an audience. Creating word of mouth online, particularly for health related topics, depends on the sharing of really powerful stories from person to person and spreading to larger and larger audiences or multiple different types of audiences on the Internet. No wonder it’s challenging and near the top of any business’ communications spending list.
Now let’s not confuse WoMO with WOMM or Word of Mouth Marketing. While WoMO happens naturally without any intentional incentive, WOMM is a deliberate effort by marketers to create word of mouth both online and offline.
So, do you have WoMO? There are a number of variables to consider when answering this question, but you can summarize them into what I call the Three E’s: 1. Empathy, 2. Engagement and 3. Empowerment.
Empathy is having the ability to relate to others and perceive their feelings from their perspective instead of your own, commonly thought as “walking in their shoes.” In order to empathize with your audience, you have to get to know them. Really know who are the real people who make up your online audience by actively listening to their stories and reflecting heavily on those stories. The next step, engagement, requires you to become a partner to select members of your online audience to help them tell their story. This can take the form of recorded videos, photos and written word and live video streams or pod casts. These can be generated by you or by users themselves. Lastly, you focus on empowerment. This phase of building WoMO takes those stories and gives your online audience an easy way to consume, distribute and discuss them. Often, social media is a preferred vehicle but it doesn’t have to be. Email and texting are still very potent forms of communication that appeal to almost everyone.
It is essential to progress through deliberate, repeated phases of empathy, engagement and empowerment to build and maintain WoMO. In a series of upcoming posts, we’ll dive deeper into the Three E’s and how to measure your effectiveness in each one of them.