Word of Mouth + Social Media = Ongoing Revolution

Earlier today I received a Facebook notification that a friend of mine is “so excited for Sasquatch; Indie music unite!” Curiosity peaked, I googled Sasquatch and, lo and behold, I stumbled upon the website for a huge music festival based in Washington State that I had never heard of before. This led me to think back on how I had previously learned about music festivals. I had never seen traditional advertising for them; I had always heard about them through word of mouth, either in person or through a social network.

The pairing between word of mouth and social media is natural; sharing opinions, ideas, and experiences is the core to social networking. It is such an important aspect of our Advertising/Marketing world – and unfortunately, a sometimes abused aspect – that some of the prominent marketing members banded together to form the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). The goals of WOMMA are to clear the air of any former misuse of word of mouth marketing via social media and to put forth an honest, powerful tool to be used by forward thinking companies. In their recently published Measurement and Metrics Guide, WOMMA explains the relationship of word of mouth and social media as three-fold: social media can be understood as online word of mouth activity, social media is a collection of digital venues in which word of mouth occurs, and social media is an engine or set of tools to achieve word of mouth marketing goals.

So how do music festivals benefit from this relationship? In the Advertising/Marketing business, we like to call it the “Snowball Effect.” Word of mouth spreads fast; word of mouth on social media spreads faster. The large music festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and, yes, Sasquatch have big-name sponsors that bring in big-name bands. Big bands attract active Internet users. Once the users have the reins, they use social media to influence their friends and peers. That filters down to my friend who is “so excited for Sasquatch” and has gotten me excited – and willing to travel across country to attend.