Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Speaking of Viral, er, Word of Mouth

We are working on some Word of Mouth Campaign ideas for a client (a more viable approach for their objectives than traditional marketing). One thing that always seems obvious as we discuss strategies for seeding community conversations: employee ambassadors.

Of course, employees are ambassadors in their communities (both the online and offline incarnations)--whether their organization wants them to be or not. How can the community conversations that employees have about thier company and it's industry align with the organization...and vice versa?

Pursuing congruence between employee and organization in word of mouth campaigns certainly depends on:

1. Employee culture (are they empowered and engaged? are they team oriented? are they articulate and informed?)

2. Organizational context (is it a confrontational and competitive landscape; a highly collaborative, partnering situation; or a combination, frenemies-like territory?)

Assuming that the culture and context support the very idea of a word of mouth campaign, we beleive that there are a few guiding principles that can be used to evaluate employee-enabled tactics that might be employed in a word of mouth campaign:

Employee's should be supported in conversations that are:

1. Based on the facts (objectively and as they are known)

2. Connected at the grass roots (i.e., relying on peer-to-peer rather than status-driven information flows)

3. Community-centric (conversations should be focussed on the relevance of the conversation to the community, not the organization)

4. Take the High road (promoting positive, uplifting themes rather than negative attacks)

These may not be the principles best employed for grassroots political campaigns, but we beleive they make employee-engaged word of mouth work for everyone engaged in the dialogue.

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