Word of Mouth

From Brad Stone’s article in the New York Times, looking at how marketers are trying to overcome ad saturation and inject messages into the conversations people are having on their social networks:

“We don’t want to create an army of spammers, and we are not trying to turn Facebook and Twitter into one giant spam network,” said Joey Caroni, co-founder of Peer2. “All we are trying to do is get consumers to become marketers for us.”

The idea is that, rather than just automatically ignoring the ads, people might trust ads that come from their friends.

Could this work? Yes, but probably not for long. A few people might make a little money for a few months, but over time, the people targeted by these ads will get fed up and stop following the people peddling the ads.

You can’t pay for word of mouth advertising. You can’t make people talk about your product by paying them to do so. These sorts of things, for them to work in a meaningful way, have to be spontaneous and real. If they are artificial, these conversations will be hollow, especially if the advertising Twitter user doesn’t really believe what he’s saying.