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When word of mouth needs a bit of context

Referral The idea of great WOM has always appealed to me. Even way before the Net. I love a great referral! And it is a very human thing to do. I guess that is why this social media thing appeals to me so much.

Someone tells you about a great band, a fabulous restaurant, a tip on a great deal somewhere and so on and so forth. In person you can vet this WOM offering and clearly see whether it is going to be something you are interested in, or not.

For example I have a very close friend who differs 180 degrees in taste from me. Almost in everything. In fact, and not joking here, if he likes something I automatically stay away from it. And if he really hates something I will run out and grab it. Probably a dozen of them! But, he is one of my best friends.
So today, in the last 30 minutes, three different people I know suggested I check out something – they were – in no special order – a band, a video and an blog article. These folks I know pretty well and happily went.

Without a doubt probably the worst recommendations I have ever seen. The band really sucked, the vid was banal and lame and the article seemingly was penned by a 12 year old. Oh, hang on … it was penned by a 12 year old.Well, in fact, not a 12 year old, but a youthful relative of my friend. Got it!

Ok, so for the hell of it I just went back to the three folks and asked them if these referrals involved relatives or close friends. Yep they were – all relatives. Great I said. Excellent.

I am still saying to myself they suck. Or at least I do not like them.  But I am happy to support folks in what they do – especially friends and family of those I care for and quite frankly any kid who is trying to do stuff. Because to me, a kid who is attempting music or art is worth a listen. It is a damn sight better than a kid sitting on his or her ass day in and day out watching TV.

Not every relative is going to be Paul Simon, a Marty Scorsese or a budding Hemmingway. Of course some folks are going to suck – and by suck I mean I did not like it. Hell, I might be the only person in the world that does not like it. But that does not mean we cannot recommend them! These are most often kids of close relatives who have made your friends very proud. And as I believe these kids should be encouraged to continue the effort. It is a small sacrifice to put up with a not so great performance if it gives the kids an audience and encourages them. In fact I suggest we ALL do that more!

All I ask is that you provide some context for the WOM. I will happily sit through a not-s-great experience to support a friend or relative of a friend. Just let me know!

Also by giving context one will avoid the awkward situation of maybe blurting out the truth that, in fact, the piece you saw or experienced was not very good and maybe hurting their feelings.

One Comment

  1. Paul Castain
    Paul Castain July 17, 2010

    Couldn’t agree with you more!
    We also see this quite a bit within social networking communities (not just friends)sort of a herd mentality.
    Thanks for bringing this issue front and center!
    Paul Castain

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