Why word of mouth marketing is like great street art
By Ted Wright July 29, 2019
I am a huge fan of great street art … you know the exuberant expressions found painted on the sides of buildings and empty concrete spaces in nearly every big city in the world.
To me, it is an unbridled and authentic story somebody is expressing to the world. I love it so much, I “collect” the best pieces I see and share them on Instagram.
I was reading how some of these street artists are now being commissioned to do large public installations – murals on large walls – and it occurred to me that this is a metaphor for what is happening with word of mouth marketing today.
The true influencer
Unfortunately, the word “influencer” has become almost a derogatory term today as YouTube and Instagram stars manufacture a reality to shill products. So I prefer to use the word “advocates” for the people out there who are authentically and organically singing the praises of your products and services.
Research shows that about 10 percent of the population across all cultures are these “super sharers” who very naturally live to tell stories about the products they love. Our job as word of mouth marketers has always been to embed our own authentic, interesting, and relevant stories into those advocate narratives.
Street art stories
You can view street artists as a similar kind of natural storyteller. They do what they do for the pure joy of it. Nobody is paying them to tell these stories. The art comes from an inner delight or pain.
And yet, the very best artists may eventually be rewarded with a commission. Perhaps they will become one of the lucky ones who gets noticed and paid by a city to spread their story in a more formal manner, perhaps even under contract. Their art becomes an “installation” and part of the fabric of the community.
The artist was paid to tell a story, but it doesn’t mean the artist isn’t authentic and passionate. It just means they are monetizing their work and displaying their talent on a bigger canvas.
Likewise, there can be overlap between “paid” influencers and true advocates in the commercial realm. At a minimum, we would predict that at least 10 percent of the paid influencers are also natural advocates like the rest of the population.
There is a lot of corruption in the influencer world because there is so much money flowing in that direction. Becoming an “influencer” is no longer simply an authentic expression of joy, it is more often a highly-engineered career choice.
The moral of this story is “focus.”
There is a lot of hype and distraction in this commercial world. Stay focused on what is true. People trust people, especially those who always deliver a story that is authentic, interesting and relevant.
This was true a thousand years ago and it’s true today. Focus on the truth, not the influencer marketing hype.
Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth.