Monday, May 21, 2007

How to Design for Word-of-Mouth

Increasing the likelihood of word-of-mouth ...

"The holy grail of design is to make something so wonderful and remarkable that people can’t imagine life without it. People are so happy with it that it sells itself. This idea was expounded on beautifully by Seth Godin in The Purple Cow, a new rendering of the age-old business ideas of differentiation and competitive advantage.

The big benefit of word-of-mouth is that your marketing budget goes toward zero, as your users become your marketers. If they’re so passionate about your design they’ll tell their friends about your service, and you don’t need to. And, most likely, what they say is more influential than what you can say anyway. Focusing on this value, the unbiased social value, is central to social design.

But what has to happen for word-of-mouth to actually work? We tend to gloss over it as a single activity…that you generate word-of-mouth and then you’re all set. If you can only generate word-of-mouth then all will be right with your business.

But word-of-mouth is actually very complicated from a design standpoint because it’s not a monolithic activity. It’s a bunch of smaller steps that work together. On one hand this makes it tougher because there are many little problems to solve. On the other hand, it gives designers a clearer picture of what to focus on.

To actually make it work, you have to nail most, if not all, of the following steps. There are a lot of them!

1. Get someone excited about your product and service
For the sake of argument let’s imagine that you can do this…we’re focusing on the telling-others part for the moment.

2. Give the sender a way to share that excitement with someone else
If your users don’t interact in a face-to-face manner, you’ll have to create a tool to help them do this. It might come in the form of a “share this” feature on your site, for example. This feature sends an email to someone else telling them that you found it interesting. Alternatively, someone may simply tell others in their own way, via email or IM. The difference between providing them with a tool and letting them use their own tool is that you can usually measure the effectiveness of your own tool. That’s incredibly important because you know how well you are or are not doing."    (Continued via Bokardo)    [Usability Resources]

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