Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Word of Mouth

It's amazing how much difference book reviews--or the lack thereof--can make to the success of any given book. The more reviews are out there, the more likely people are to buy, especially if the reviews are positive. I know that's certainly the case with me. When I'm shopping on Amazon, or even if I'm planning to go to a brick-and-mortar store and buy, I always read a good portion of the Amazon reviews of a book first, to see what the general consensus was. Sometimes the things people say they hate about a book are the very things that will make me buy it, and sometimes what people dislike about a book are also the things I know that I'd also like to avoid. It depends on what the issues are. But without the reviews, I would never know until after I'd spent money.

Careers can be made or broken upon word-of-mouth alone. Many people like to go with the flow. They like to trust one another's opinions. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. In the case of building success for a book or other product, it's essential. Everyone's experience of using a product is subjective, but if the general consensus about that product is positive, then people tend to go into their own experience expecting something positive. If all the reviews about that very same product had been negative instead of positive, then the person reading the review would have been expecting a very different outcome. They might not have bought the book at all, or they would have read it but been prepared to dislike it.

The interesting thing about this is that it's all about perception, and perception is often driven by consensus. What does that say about us as people? That we're all more dependent on and more connected to one another than we realize, perhaps.

Word-of-mouth (or word-of-speaker, in the following case) has extended to our machines and technology as well. Someone recently commented that whoever came up with the default text message sound for the new Droid phone had a stroke of genius in marketing. The phone exclaims its own name when it receives a text. "Droid!" has already become the new catchphrase in our family. You can't not know about it, and the way it sounds is also distinctive enough to stick in the mind. Consensus seems to be that it's cool. And so it spreads....

No comments: