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Why Social Is the New Word-of-Mouth Marketing, and What That Means

by Brewster Stanislaw  |  
January 7, 2015

Word-of-mouth is the oldest, most powerful marketing channel in the history of mankind.

It's so old that it was marketing before marketing even existed. And it's so powerful that it's the most trusted source of product, content, and experience information for nearly every consumer in the world. We'll always trust the opinions of peers and like-minded individuals over marketing copy geared to make us purchase.

Word-of-mouth started with people interacting in person and sharing preferences, then people writing letters... Eventually, technology advances, such as the telephone, led to people expanding on this sharing of information. With the emergence of the Internet and the mass adoption of smartphones, social media has helped word-of-mouth become as powerful and pervasive as ever.

The difference today is that brands can now use word-of-mouth in ways they couldn't before.

And if you think about it, social is word-of-mouth. Except now it's digital, which means it has a whole new set of properties. It's trackable, attributable, and optimizable.

Those properties offer marketers a tremendous opportunity to understand word-of-mouth today—what's being said to drive sales, who's saying it, and where it's being said.

That has never been possible until now.

An Example

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Brewster Stanislaw is CEO of Inside Social, an early-stage technology company located in Seattle,Washington.

LinkedIn: Brewster Stanislaw

Twitter: @Brewws

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  • by Chris Finnie Wed Jan 7, 2015 via web

    I can see how companies would be able to tap into comments on their product pages, Facebook groups, or other company-sponsored spaces. And I agree completely that many are missing the boat if they're not paying attention to these. Unfortunately, in my own experience, that's still the case.

    But is there a way to see what people are saying about your products when they're away from areas you control? Is there, for example, a bot that can scrape up content with your product names in it?

  • by Luis Wed Mar 4, 2015 via web

    Hi Brewster,

    Very interesting perspective... the idea that "social is a more potent version of something we already understand very well—word-of-mouth", make us marketers find the way to apply methods that we already know in a digital format...which finally become easier instead of obsessing with the next new tool to create ROI


  • by Ankit R Mon May 9, 2016 via web

    Nice article! We know that consumers value word of mouth and marketers believe it is effective, however, they are not focused on it- they are focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting”
    If companies want to win the marketing race in 2016, they need to unleash the power of word of mouth. Need to encourage satisfied customers to share their positive experience online. There are many technologies that enable companies to facilitate WOM. If you're looking for more information on referral marketing and advocate marketing solutions, you should check out It will help you to have a better understanding of what I am talking about.

  • by Nicolas Cassidy Mon Jun 6, 2016 via web

    This is very well written. Completely agreed that Heineken is brilliant for capitalizing on organic social sharing. We have done similar research on Word of Mouth Marketing if you're interested in checking it out:

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