by: Josh Hawkins
In an audience Q&A reported in AlwaysOn, Chris Anderson provides a concise explanation of the impact of word of mouth marketing from a long tail economic perspective - influencing "tastemakers" and finding markets in niche communities.
"One of the big trends we're seeing is that traditional advertising models are becoming less and less effective—and this is true for television, radio, print, and direct mail. Across the board, their efficiencies are declining, and people are starting to tune it out. People are becoming very skeptical of the overwhelming brands and marketing messages being thrown at them. At the same time, they're becoming more and more influenced by word of mouth—by what other people think.
"The internet has amplified word of mouth. Collaborative filtering is amplified word of mouth statistically measured. Blogs are amplified word of mouth. Celebrities are, in a sense, amplified word of mouth. And any kind of conversation about products is amplified word of mouth.
"I think the question marketers are asking these days as the whole push becomes less and less effective is, How can we influence the tastemakers? The answer to that depends on the product. You obviously want to participate. You want to find the tastemakers and give them privileged access. You want to give them products. You want to treat them well. You want to give them insight into the product line...
"In the future, brands are going to be people—the people you trust, the filters you trust. Some of them will be celebrities, and some of them will be micro celebrities—famous to just 15 people. And some of these brands will be the social networks you trust because they advise you well...
"[B]ecause the long tail has many little tails, you have micro hits and micro celebrities. You're not famous for 15 minutes; you're famous to 15 people. The virtue of this kind of micro celebrity is that it allows for targeted search: For the right keywords, this person will be the No. 1 authority in that space. And that space becomes more and more narrow. As the tail gets longer, you become not just the celebrity in TV technology, but also DVR technology or maybe just TiVo technology or TiVo API technology. It gets narrower and narrower, and yet you're still the No. 1 celebrity in that space."