World of Mouth™

My business partner and our creative director Syd recently coined an expression that I can’t get out of my head. We were in a strategy meeting with a client and he said, “Well, this is where world of mouth™ comes in…”  At first I thought he’d misspoken. Didn’t he mean “word of mouth”? “No,” he corrected me, “I mean World of Mouth™'”.

World of mouth™ is more than just the one act or event, or a linear sequence of “sharing”, that constitutes “word of mouth”. World of mouth™ is a deeper lens into how we recommend things we like (or recommend against things we hate). It predates social media – but social media has accelerated and exposed World of Mouth™ in a huge way.

An insight into World of Mouth™ comes from the annual global “Trust” survey by PR firm Edelman. In their extensive surveying of “Influentials” (meaning people who are influential by some measure) on whom and what they trust, it’s no surprise that increasingly people do not trust big institutions like Church and Government, Corporations (especially after the recent financial crises), CEOs, you name it. We’re less and less trusting overall. But very often, in a multiple choice answer scenario, the majority highest score for trust goes to: “Someone like me”. This includes both one’s friends/peers and also strangers who bear a similarity to us and our situation. Someone I can identify with, or someone who’s like me.

So, when I’m making a choice about what movie to go see, which restaurant to take my date to, what refrigerator to buy, what car to lease, or what school to send my kids to — I am very likely to be swayed by someone I trust. For example, what are the ever-popular Zagat’s Guides? Ratings by people who are probably like me in many ways, who’ve tried the restaurant and scored it along 3 standard measures. When I’m interested in seeing a movie during a weekend, I’ll often ask my friends Jacob or Kerry – because they’re movie buffs, I trust them and they know my tastes. Think about it, what are user ratings and social media “likes”? All part of the World of Mouth™ – the social ecosystem around each of us where recommendations are transmitted to and fro through many different channels, but with one purpose:  To share a strong like or dislike with the people who matter to me because I care about them. Or to receive a reco from someone, because I trust them to know what’s good.