The new media are not just incremental improvements. They are fundamentally new ways of doing things. They are supplanting the old media because something basic is changing. So, High Definition TV is only a quality improvement until it becomes so realistic that it changes people’s behavior. For instance, people actually stay home and invite friends over to watch a current movie via Blue-Ray DVD because it’s actually a better experience for them than going out to the movies: better video, ability to stop, better food, cheaper popcorn, ability to talk, etc.
Notice that almost every one of these increases both overload and word of mouth in some way. Some are actually WOM media, some stimulate WOM, and others force it.
It’s hard to believe that the following media emerged that weren’t even mentioned in the first edition this book because they didn’t exist or hadn’t caught on yet:
This isn’t a complete list, it’s in no particular order yet, and the categories are fluid and overlapping. It’s just to give you a flavor of how much we’ve been hit with in the last 10 years.
|Blogs||The whole world of Twitter, WordPress, Technorati, Blogger, TypePad, etc.|
|Rating & Review sites||Zagat, Yelp, Opentable, Tripadvisor, , C-net, hotels.com,, etc.|
|Social Networking||Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Myspace|
|Social Bookmarking||(Digg, Diigo, Stumbleupon, Reddit)|
|Mass Collaboration||Open Source Movement, Google Wave, Google Docs, Various Microsoft Collaboration Tools|
|Wikis||WikiPedia, WikiHow, WikiNews…|
|Remote meetings||GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect, etc.|
|Webinars, Remote Courses, etc.||University of Phoenix (current enrollment: 240,000+), 1000’s of private courses, etc.|
|Texting, Video chat||ICQ, iChat, Jabber, Buzz, etc.|
|RSS feeds, Newsreaders, News aggregators, Mega News Sites||“Reverse Browsing”: Google Reader, Netnewswire, Feedblitz, Feedburner, etc.|
|Customer-generated Media (CGM):||YouTube, Flickr, …|
|Recommendation Engines||Netflix, Jinni, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Last.fm|
|MP3 players||iPods, Podcasting|
|500+ Cable, Fiber Optic and Dish Channels||CableVision, Fios, Dish Network|
|Downloaded TV Episodes||iTunes downloads, etc.|
|Web TV viewing||Hulu, Network web sites|
|Flat Screen TV, HDTV, 3-D TV and Movies||IMAX, home screens|
|Universal Remote Controls||Important means of skipping commercials, switching to other content. Lets people pause and engage in WOM.|
|Bigger than Movies and Music combined!|
|Microsoft X Box, Wii, Playstation|
|TiVo, Apple TV, Roku, Slingbox|
|Smart Phones||iPhones, Android Phones, etc.|
|Web 2.0||All customer-provided content sites|
|Shareware, donationware, etc.||Variably priced, payment optional, etc.|
|Filesharing Protocols and sites||Napster, LimeWire, Pirate Bay, BitTorrent, Magnet Links, etc.|
|Portable, High-Capacity Drives||USB Flash Drives, High Capacity portable drives|
|Music/Movie/Video Downloading services||iTunes Store, Apple TV, NetFlix,|
|E-Books & Readers||Kindle, iBook, Sony Reader, Zook, etc.|
|Digital Cameras, Video||Complete conversion to digital from film, pocket cameras with video.|
|Digital Photos and Video||Picassa, Flickr, Lightroom, iPhoto|
|Web Apps||Google, Google Apps, Microsoft Office Web Apps etc.|
|Mass Collaboration, Hive Mind|
|WOM agencies||Unknown in 2000, too numerous to mention now.|
|Advocacy Networks||BzzAgent, Tremor|
|Auction Sites||EBay (in its comparative infancy in 2000)|
|eCommerce, Electronic Payment Systems||PayPal, Google Checkout, millions of web sites|
|Very Fast Broadband and Broadband Wireless|
|App phones||IPhone, Android, etc.
With hundreds of thousands of apps, many designed to locate products, ratings, comparative prices, etc.
|VOIP||Skype, Vonnage, etc.|
|Ubiquitous Network Access||3G, 4G, WiFi, WiMax, VPNs|
|Cloud Computing: unlimited storage & processing on demand.||Amazon EC2, Google, etc.|
|Word of mouth agencies
…to name only broad categories. Some of these categories have hundreds to thousands of instances: Thousands of eBay merchants, thousands of rating sites, travel sites, mash-ups, etc.
Remember when we all had AOL accounts, brick-like cell phones, dial-up modems and used Yahoo as our search engine? That was right around 1997.
Gone — or almost gone — are faxes and faxback, hotlines, pagers, classified advertising, newspaper stock listings; physical dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses; physical recording media such as floppy disks, records/cassettes/CDs/DVDs (almost), PDAs, photographic film, simple bulletin boards/forums, dial-up modems, Physical Maps, Traveler’s checks, telegrams, travel agents, pay phones.
Soon to be obsolete, or nearly so: Newspapers and magazines (in the paper forms we know them), paper books & bookstores, conventional libraries, handwritten prescriptions, land lines, paper money, major broadcast TV networks and cords connecting anything.
Notice that the new arrivals are almost all things that increase our interactivity and connectedness, and, thereby, our overload. They also increase our ability — actually necessity — to engage in word of mouth.
So, the Secrets you can learn from this are:
Involvement and collaboration is what it’s all about now.
The new media have brought a whole new level of overload.
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked in my speeches and interviews is, “Don’t all the word-of-mouth tools, such as feeds, blogs, the proliferation of other web sites, etc. cause chaos? There is so much crap out there, how do people sort it out?”
It turns out that WOM is a self-improving system (much more about this concept in upcoming posts — subscribe to this feed, I think they’re going to be spectacular!!!) People become infomediaries, screeners, reviewers, etc. Tools are developed to help people sort, filter and evaluate information and sources. We are in the beginning of the Information Revolution — the means for creating and delivery have gone through the roof (word processing, voice dictation, digital cameras on the creation side, and the web, cell phones, ebooks, etc. on the delivery side). But the means to manage these have lagged. So, Google results flood us, but we haven’t developed sufficient means for sorting out all the hits.
We are now seeing – and will continue to see at an increasing rate until the problems are sufficiently solved – a great deal of energy put into the invention of information management systems, as distinct from creation and delivery systems. These are becoming spectacularly popular, such as digg and del.icio.us. While they have been getting a lot of attention, I think their significance is underestimated.
I just stumbled upon a great one that I think will be the next very big hit: StumbleUpon
It’s an add-on to Firefox or Internet Explorer, and makes the switch from Safari to Firefox a no-brainer. It installs a toolbar and when you click on its Stumble button, it takes you to a website that fits your preferences, which you can continually adjust by rating the websites. The choices are uncannily interesting. It’s almost spooky. The selections are in your preferences (some of mine are marketing, magic, etc.) and they are the ones that are highest rated by other people. You can also rate web sites that you navigate to in the course of other browsing. It has built-in communities, ways of viewing other like-minded people’s selections, etc. It’s the most addicting thing I’ve found on the web in years: much better than digg and the others. It’s like having BoingBoing that is custom tailored to your interests. Beware, it’s highly addicting.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and Consultant
Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing