Word of mouth on the Internet: Being aware of message distortion

Based on an interview with Kristine De Valck, assistant professor of marketing at HEC Paris, research@HEC no 27, June-July 2012.

Kristine De Valck

Kristine De Valck and her co-authors analyze an electronic marketing campaign designed to promote a specific cell phone model among bloggers. They show that, unlike conventional marketing campaigns, on blogs the message can be distorted depending on who is selected to talk about the product and the kinds of communities to which they belong.

Business Digest partners with HEC Paris and the HEC Foundation in the production of research@HEC.

“Marketers and sociologists have recognized the importance of word of mouth as a naturally occurring phenomenon for more than half a century, suggesting, for example, that word of mouth affects the majority of all purchase decisions,” says Kristine De Valck. “However, these theories and observations about informal, unsolicited word of mouth were constructed in a marketing world untouched by the Internet.” The Internet’s accessibility, reach, and transparency have enabled marketers to influence and monitor word of mouth as never before. Kristine De Valck lists the ways marketers can achieve their goals online: “listening in” to online conversations, moderating word of mouth, engaging in dialogue on social media forums, giving products to people of influence, and so on. Notably, such tactics change word of mouth from a natural, spontaneous phenomenon, whose power, notes Kristine De Valck, rests primarily in the fact that participants are not commercially motivated, to a more artificial, calculated, and commercialized force in which bloggers are co-opted by marketers to become product advocates. [read more]

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Word of mouth on the Internet: Being aware of message distortion
Published in research@HEC, no 27, June-July, a journal that has been promoting the research of HEC Paris professors since 2007.
Based on an interview with Kristine De Valck, associate professor of marketing, and the article “Networked Narratives: Understanding Word-of-Mouth Marketing in Online Communities” by R. V. Kozinets, K. De Valck, A. C. Wojnicki, and S. S. Wilner, published in Journal of Marketing (March 2010, vol. 74, n° 2, pp. 71-89), which earned her the Prix Article Professeur of the Fondation HEC in 2010.