You can tell times are changing when traditional media companies recognize and even promote the value of word-of-mouth. I received the following promotion from MSNBC today. The logic goes something like this:
- Word of mouth is a large and growing marketing force
- Engaged consumers make the best customer evangelists
- MSNBC viewers are engaged
- Therefore MSNBC programming is the best place to start and encourage a word-of-mouth campaign
Well, almost. Engaged consumers are the best for launching word-of-mouth (duh!) but I believe that engagement is directly related to a program's relevance. Since MSNBC programming is diverse, it's difficult to claim that viewers are universally more engaged.
Still, I love the fact that a major media company acknowledges the importance of WOM. Furthermore, MSNBC seems to understand that, in addition to purchase potential, consumers also have promotional potential. Rather than touting the usual age demographics and household income as a reason to communicate with its audience. MSNBC is saying, "Talk to our audience because they are more likely to spread your message to their social network."
This is a profound change and long overdue. The consumer is no longer simply the target of an advertiser's message. They are also the conduit through which it flows. Consumers are a media channel.
Kudos to MSNBC for recognizing this. Let's hope more media follow. Spread the fire. GS