Electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM)
Electronic word-of-mouth communication (eWOM) is any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual or former customers about a product or company which is made available to multiples of people and/or institutions and is spread over the internet (Cheung et al, 2010).
The concept of eWOM is closely related to the application of user-generated content (UGC) in the digital advertising “mix” and the definitions of eWOM often overlap to include viral advertising (Wang et al, 2011). In fact UGC becomes e-WOM when people share content in an Online Brand Community (OBC).
There are various techniques that marketers intentionally use to trigger eWOM. They try to become part of the communication process and engage consumers by making use of UGC to accomplish advertising goals (Wang et al, 2011). This is because eWOM has a powerful impact on consumer purchase decisions. These techniques are know as ‘eWOM Advertising’. An example of an ‘eWOM Advertising’ technique is when brands invite consumers to write product reviews (whether positive or negative) to assist other consumers with buying decisions.
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Traditional word-of-mouth (WOM,) was originally defined as an oral form of interpersonal non-commercial communication among acquaintances (Cheung et al, 2010) and is actually the oldest form of promoting products and services known to have been happening offline. For example, a consumer comes across something new, odd, funny or relevant and tells his or her friends or the people he or she meets, about this discovery. Basically, it focuses on person-to-person contact, however on the internet it can become viral if its message is persuasive or funny enough (Estrella-Ramón et al, 2017). This traditional WOM phenomenon has evolved into a new form of communication, namely eWOM communication.
While in traditional word-of-mouth, the message disappears as soon as it is spoken, in the case of eWOM, the message remains over a period. eWOM includes blogs, online reviews, social media posts and messages posted on online groups.
- Cheung, C. and Thadani, D. (2010) The Effectiveness of Electronic Word-of-Mouth Communication: A Literature Analysis [Online] Available: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.453.4915&rep=rep1&type=pdf [Accessed: 19 July 2018].
- Wang, Y. and Rodgers, S. (2011) Electronic Word of Mouth and Consumer Generated Content. From Concept to Application [Online] [Accessed: 16 July 2018].
- Estrella-Ramón, A. and Ellis-Chadwick, F., (2017) “Do different kinds of user-generated content in online brand communities really work?”, Online Information Review, Vol. 41 Issue: 7, pp.954-968.