Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why WOMMA is wrong ma

Word of mouth is spontaneous, uncoached, unrehearsed, non-commercial, un-incentivized reports from a user of a product to a potential user.

Word of mouth marketing is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.

This is what many of us have been fearing: a wholesale, widespread usurpation of the authentic, unbiased, user-to-user recommendation network of blogospheric buzz.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association is an example of such trust-web hijacking.

I've already voiced my disapproval of WOMMA on their site, and debated the CEO. There seems to be a large orientation to "how can companies take advantage of blogospheric buzz?"

WOMMA does not define word of mouth advertising, since it's an oxymoron. It can't be defined without deconstructing itself in the very attempt to establish itself. It is illegitimate from the get-go.

How, exactly, do they propose to supposedly "unleash the voice of the consumer" and "make it simpler for friends to tell friends about stuff they like"?

I prefer the Consumer Reports methodology. They accept no undue influence, aka advertising, to keep their opinions, their content, pure and reliable. Consumers seem to agree with that strategy, judging by the success Consumer Reports has had over a rather long haul.

WOMMA is the opposite of Consumer Reports. They teach companies how to exploit blogospheric conversations for commercial gain, and I just know how well that's going to fly in blogoland. We simply do not wish to hear from paid enthusiasts.

While it's not as heinous as covert, undisclosed product endorsement or dis-endorsement, disguised as friendly, authentic, no-agenda opinion (as in the stealth marketing of a PayPerPost), it's still not an approach that will win in the long run.

WOMMA states they help companies "amplify and facilitate" conversations, and "empower the voice of the consumer". For marketers to attempt to "harness", "leverage", or "exploit" this system seems self-defeating and anti-blogospheric to me. I think the best way to "influence" the influencers is by contributing your expertise to a conversation, with absolutely no commercial agenda, just altruistic concerns.

This altruism and sincere contribution will generate good will. But to try to coax a blogger to try then post about your product, or to post comments at blogs in a spammy, self-serving manner is not how viral marketing is meant to work. Such self-serving and exploitation of the blogosphere will eventually backfire and give place to the more helpful and selfless contributors of relevant and helpful content.

..but what do I know? I'm nobody in particular.

But now, I have to append "I'm not getting compensated in any way for stating this" whenever I praise or recommend a product spontaneously on a blog comment or post. What a drag.


Canopenner said...

Yes I agree that does seem counterproductive in the long run.

Also I dont think you need to append you messages because I think your reader trust you not to endorse products you dont really endorse.

I know I do. Even more so after today.

Have a great day, afternoon or night, whichever is applicable.

steven edward streight said...

I most of the time avoid discussing movies, products, services, etc.

But when I do, I try to slam and glam simultaneously, in an honest Abe manner.

Usually, when I show a product in a video, I'm making fun of product placement. Rarely, I may feel sorry for an obscure product, like Four absinthe beer, and toot a horn for it a little bit, still in a jejune style.