It may sound like I am stating the obvious here, but the circle is round. Further more, it has no end.
Before the Internet, television, radio, billboards and even pamphlets, there was word of mouth.
Someone found something awesome and told everyone else about it.
Technology has been steadily changing the way consumers and companies tell others about interesting products and services, but the heart of the action has stayed the same. Think of it as the difference between standing in the middle of Times Square and saying something, yelling something, yelling something through a large plastic cone, yelling something through a microphone hooked up to an enormous sound system.
People all over the world talk about social media as if it is some sort of marketing revolution. As if social media is allowing us to do something new. Yes, the scope and method have both changed. But at the core, we are doing the same thing we always have: Telling the people around us about things we like.
I went to a hippy-dippy private school for grades 1 – 3 where we sang lots of songs. One of which was about friends, and it goes like this (to be sung in rounds):
“This circle is round, it has no end/ That’s what it’s like to make new friends”
And that is how I have come to think about what marketers are now calling “Word of mouth marketing.” We have always shared things we like with people we like, now we just have an incredibly large and fast electronic pipeline uniting our network.
Television gave companies ultimate control of what was pushed to consumers. The Internet has brought us further around on our circle by connecting more people than ever before in the history of the planet. Information and ideas can now flow freely around the globe in a way our ancestors never could have imagined. The urge to share those bits of knowledge and creativity has always been there, we are just doing it again. And on a whole new scale.
The question should never be what is next. The question should always be, where on the circle are we?