In addition to a seemingly countless number of other changes, social media usage has lent the volume and visibility needed to include peer-to-peer recommendations in today’s lineup of viable content marketing strategies. In fact, because many (if not all) of today’s marketing shifts are consumer-centric, word-of-mouth (WOM) could very well wind up being the most effective piece of the puzzle.

The Power of Opinion

People have always been better than marketers at influencing other people, especially their friends, but today’s social platforms have taken that influence to a much more significant level by functioning sort of like megaphones. Really big, really powerful megaphones.

We’ve seen the damage this can cause brands in a handful of highly publicized examples, (e.g. Dooce vs. Maytag; United Breaks Guitars) but what about the perks? If 80 percent of all B2C and B2B transactions involve some form of word-of mouth-recommendation during the purchase cycle (Forrester: North American Technographics Empowerment Online Survey), then influencing and amping up those conversations is quickly becoming an opportunity that no one can afford to miss.

Facebook Open Graph = WOM on Steroids

The Open Graph stands to intensify this movement beyond anything we’ve previously seen. As more content is seamlessly shared into the Facebook platform, the more its massive user-base of 900 million and counting will like, talk about and re-share that content.

“The greatest thing about approaching a C2C social marketing strategy through the combination of WOM and Facebook’s Open Graph is that it has the potential to make that R(eturn) grow organically and continuously -- simply because it’s backed by consumer honesty,” wrote Angela Bandlow, VP of Marketing, Extole, in a recent blog post. “It’s true Return.”

Complementary Pieces

While WOM marketing is in the process of becoming a real heavy hitter, you shouldn’t bank solely on what consumers are saying about you, your brand or your content. At last year’s Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s conference (WOMMA), Russell Sparkman of FusionSpark tweeted a really smart -- and sweet! -- analogy:

Nakano_July10.jpg

“... content is the core, the substance ... the peanut butter,” he explained. “Word-of-Mouth is the chocolatey shell that carries and transports the content.”

In other words, quality content is still good -- and very crucial -- all on its own. But paired with the right context? Delicious.