Networked Narratives: Understanding Word-of-Mouth Marketing in Online Communities

R. Kozinets, K. DE VALCK, A. Wojnicki, S. Wilner

Journal of Marketing

March 2010, vol. 74, n°2, pp.71-89

Departments: Marketing, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Advertising and promotions, Consumer communication, Online communities, Online consumer behavior, Internet marketing, Social media word of mouth

Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing'firms' intentional influencing of consumer-to-consumer communications'is an increasingly important technique. Reviewing and synthesizing extant WOM theory, this article shows how marketers employing social media marketing methods face a situation of networked coproduction of narratives. It then presents a study of a marketing campaign in which mobile phones were seeded with prominent bloggers. Eighty-three blogs were followed for six months. The findings indicate that this network of communications offers four social media communication strategies'evaluation, embracing, endorsement, and explanation. Each is influenced by character narrative, communications forum, communal norms, and the nature of the marketing promotion. This new narrative model shows that communal WOM does not simply increase or amplify marketing messages; rather, marketing messages and meanings are systematically altered in the process of embedding them. The theory has definite, pragmatic implications for how marketers should plan, target, and leverage WOM and how scholars should understand WOM in a networked worldadvertising and promotionsconsumer communicationInternet marketingonline communitiesonline consumer behaviorsocial mediaword of mouth