Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Identify Network Hubs for Word-of-Mouth Marketing

The structures through which Word-of-Mouth spreads are similar to networks as shown in the figure below. There are certain hubs that are connected to other nodes and it these hubs that spread word of mouth to these nodes.

It becomes important for marketer to target these hubs to spread word of mouth to as many people as possible. In Word-of-Mouth parlance, these hubs are called Network Hubs or Opinion Leaders. According to Emanuel Posen, an expert on the subject, Network Hubs are individuals who communicate with more people about a certain product than the average person does.
To enable marketers to identify these Network Hubs, some common characteristics that are exhibited by these individuals have been observed and identified. The acronym used for these characteristics is ACTIVE:
  1. Ahead in adoption
  2. Connected
  3. Travellers
  4. Information-Hungry
  5. Vocal
  6. Exposed to media

By “Ahead in adoption” it is meant that Network Hubs are early to adopt or reject an idea or an offering than the others.

They are “Connected” in the sense that they are more cosmopolite i.e. more oriented towards the outside world.

It has been observed that opinion leaders generally travel more than an average individual. They make more out-of-town trips. Today, this behaviour is complemented by virtual travelling i.e. surfing more and more websites on the internet.

Opinion Leaders often serve as ‘local experts’ because they are well-informed since they always want to learn more. Because of this trait of theirs, it is not unusual to see many people approaching opinion leaders for advice on what to purchase and what not.

Network Hubs are “Vocal” not because they are necessarily out-spoken, but because they voice their opinions more often.

And finally, they are more exposed to media. This may be true because they read more magazines and watch more advertisements or because they themselves are part of the media. This is why many marketers approach personalities and experts, who are more exposed to the media, to talk about their products in person or in editorials.


nikhil said...

hey...some very interesting observations have been made on this subject in the book "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwel. It describes how a small but precisely targeted push can cause a popularity of a new product...its a fantastic book..! hope u enjoy reading it..!

Gunjit Jain said...

Thanks for the suggestion Nikhil. Fortunately I have read the book already. It is definitely a good read!

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