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May 17, 2006

Tracking Word Of Mouth With The Relational Ethnography Approach

Dr. Walter Carl writes an interesting post about the process of tracking conversations in word of mouth marketing. Essentially, if word of mouth marketing reviews audience conversations to understand how word of mouth happens organically, a researcher would want to track conversations between audience members to discover how the word of mouth process occurs.

Walter describes three approaches, a diary based method, a transcription of the conversations and lastly a transcription of the conversation with additional commentary. Essentially, participants will be asked by an interviewer for their understanding of what was said in a conversation.

Walter tells us the reason for using this last method, "Specifically you want to ask the participants in the WOM episodes about how they make sense of their own interaction and to provide insights that an outside analyst wouldn't have access to since s/he is not an "insider" to the relationship. Here, then, you're gaining insights into how the relational connection and history serves as a basis of influence in the WOM episode."

Walter had highlighted an article in Advertising Age (registration required if you have not subscribed) that discusses a methodology used by the company The Keller Fay Group. Where the diary approach is used to set a benchmark of organic word of mouth events. There's no interaction from a company's word of mouth marketing effects. Walter suggested that those results could then be compared with a company's word of mouth marketing campaign efforts using other organized methods; I assumed that Walter meant the "relational ethnography" approach.

Basically, you can compare the organic word of mouth process with a company-sponsored word of mouth marketing campaign. And see how the company-sponsored word of mouth marketing campaign can be improved upon in light of the results from the organic WOM process.

Though I was thinking what if you get better results from the company-sponsored world of mouth marketing campaign than the organic process? It would be interesting to ask the community if anyone has ever seen that happen.

Posted by johncass at May 17, 2006 9:28 AM

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