Marketers over the last few years seem to have rediscovered the value of word of mouth in terms of generating long-term profitable business relationships. As is often the case when we discover something good we sometimes over do it, by going too far.
I recently joined Twitter. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is a micro blogging site limited to 140 characters. I decided I needed to dive into social networking so I don’t get left behind.
In addition to meeting lots of interesting people from around the world and learning all sorts of interesting things I might not have been exposed to, there is also a lot of what I consider to be Noise. Many of the Tweople (People who Tweet) are obviously Affiliate Marketers. These individuals are paid to drive web traffic and or transactions to other web sites. Wikipedia describes this trend in great detail.
Many of these individuals will make an intriguing post that when you follow the link to read more and investigate, you are lead to a website to purchase a juice product, to get your colon cleansed or to join the latest MLM program. These are all valid products BUT the way you get there is often misleading. “The latest consciousness raising break through,” can lead you to a cleanse, for example.
What I observe in myself is that when someone refers me to a product, a service, or an information source because they have found it beneficial and they are being generous I learn to trust them and they gain credibility. When it is a blatant attempt to get me to visit a site or to buy a product, I learn not to trust them and by extension the products or services that they are selling.
So if this is the case for many, as I suspect; what are the implications for this growing phenomenon? How can business engage their customer in meaningful trust building vs. trust diminishing ways?