Imagine you asked an open-ended question about how members of an audience learned about a concert. Imagine you came up with these responses.
Thinking beyond the numbers, “word of mouth” permeates more than it initially seems. Why? Because “word of mouth” is not only words from lips. Recommendations, references, and interpersonal info dissemination come in forms beyond face-to-face and vocal. Here is my calculation of who really learned of this event because another human shared:
38 are self-reported “word of mouth” people
+ 15 (at least half of the “listings,” since these critics are trusted people)
+ 10 (half of the “emails,” since people, not just companies, send emails)
+ 4 (friend of the artist-this one is just a more specific “mouth”)
+ 1 (block newsletter could easily be considered friendly social gossip)
This really is 68 instances of social sharing (aka word of mouth)! (Though I wonder if we should be labeling it either of these terms.)
Line items on most arts marketing budgets (and probably most all marketing budgets, for that matter) and job descriptions are not in sync with the ranking above. Could it be because we cannot easily measure money allocated to and effort on behalf of sharing?
I would argue that measurable output is more important than input, especially today. We can cut budgets all we want, but providing customers with a megaphone undoubtedly gives organizations more bang (be it good or bad) for the buck.
So how can we spend time and money on social sharing? How can we make the shift in our budgets and job functions? (This goes for nonprofits and for-profits.) Here are two ideas, one simply and one not:
- Make every touchpoint sharable, via incentives, AddThis buttons, whatever.
- Think of every annoying audience member as a potential opportunity. (If someone is bugging you it is because they care. Even if they care only about themselves, in their mind it is still in relation to you. If you show you care back, they will notice and still care. If you don’t care back they will care even more. (Haven’t we all been here?) There is a chance they will tell others either way; at this point you cannot stop them from caring.) Here are some unconventional steps one arts organization took after embracing annoyances.
So now I ask, what could this be called in our budgets and on our job descriptions? CRM? Fire-fighting? WOMing?