Facebook, Twitter give viral marketing a pulse

MUMBAI: Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are increasingly helping brands to create a viral impact on consumer purchase choices through word of mouth (WoM).

Citing an example while speaking at the The Mindshare Brand Equity Compass 2010 here today, Perfetti Van Melle India CEO Sameer Suneja said that a particular telecom company wasn‘t entertaining my friend‘s complaint. Irritated, he set his status message on Facebook against the telecom company. This was followed by some friends spreading similar status messages and the viral impact led the telecom firm to act in haste.

"In an hour‘s time, the telecom operator agreed to help and requested in changing the status message. Such is the power of social networking," he said. 
According to marketers, WoM is fast catching up via the social networking sites with 70 per cent of Indians aged 15-34 age group. Also, about 60 per cent consumers trust and take purchasing decisions based on online discussions.

According to Suneja, WoM works for rational purchases, there are different categories of rational purchases including food. "Buying food products are high on impulse and in such cases WoM plays the catalyst," he says.
Author Chetan Bhagat is also of the opinion that WoM does the trick when there aren‘t sufficient marketing budgets. "If one is to attract a crowd for an event in a short notice, WoM is a very effective medium. But, it‘s effective when the news is fresh and ‘awesome‘. A marketing budget of Rs 500,000-7, 00,000 can buy a lot of space on the internet which can be effectively used."
So how does WoM work as a marketing tool? Says FritoLay India CEO foods division & Pepsico India region president Gautham Mukkavilli, "A stressed consumer looks in for simplified choices. Before zeroing in on what to buy, the consumer makes sure he accesses his personal space that can be anything from dance class to a blog."

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