Word-of-mouth is the most coveted treasure a brand can have, and the most difficult to plan for. Or at least that’s the common line of thought, according to a recent article in TechCrunch. But there is in fact a science behind word-of-mouth, the article posits, and it is not random, and sheer luck is not the reason why people talk about some things more than others.

In addition to analyzing Big Data and the reasons behind why people make certain choices, researchers, including the article’s author Jonah Berger, are studying the human data behind our decisions to talk and share. Berger looked at word-of-mouth data culled from more than 10,000 brands, ranging from Coca-Cola to Walmart to start-ups, trying to understand not only which products or online content goes viral, but the motivations behind those outcomes.

Berger breaks his findings into six reasons for why people share stuff, including:

Triggers: the more we’re reminded of something, the more we talk about it

Social Currency: If a brand makes us look good, we pass it on

Emotion: Caring = Sharing

Public: We are wired to mimic (and therefore share) things we see done publicly.

Practical Value: We love sharing useful stuff.

Stories: If a brand builds a narrative, people will share it.

According to Berger, these elements are part of a broad formula that, if followed, raise a brand’s chances of stirring up word-of-mouth. Check out TechCrunch to read more.

Brief Take: Knowing the elements of great word-of-mouth doesn’t make it any easier to do them well.


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