Tuesday, 3 August 2010

What is the Future of Word of Mouth in a Virtual World?

In the past word of mouth, referral or recommendation in most cases, was how businesses grew their client base. It is on this process that many business networking groups have established themselves. As a Charter director and past member of a BNI Chapter I have certainly benefitted from this organisations word of mouth based programme.

Many of these business groups, established around this solid foundation, were created in a time before the virtual revolution that has brought us E-mail, the world wide web and social media, such as this Blog, Twitter, Face Book and Linked In etc. All these "social media" communication processes allow a written, faster and wider reaching recommendation and referral, "word of mouth" based networking to take place.

So in our fast paced business world of the 21st century where is the true home of word of mouth? Is it in the multitude of networking groups and clubs that meet around the world, or is it in the numerous variety of on line networks in the virtual world?

You will have your own view on this, but personally I believe we, the human race, need the additional dimension that only face to face communication can provide. To gauge a referral we need to hear the intonation of the voice, observe the sincerity in the voice and the direction of the eye. The true home for word of mouth remains in the business clubs, but today can be backed up by written testimonials in the virtual world. What do you think?