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 / Winter 2013 / Issue 73(originally published by Booz & Company)


Jonah Berger Is Over Twitter

Plenty of offline companies are successfully prompting word of mouth as well. For example, we can see triggers in action with Geico’s “Hump day/happier than a camel on Wednesday” campaign. Geico was trailing far behind Progressive a few months ago, in terms of online search. But after this campaign came out, Geico took the lead. There’s a big spike for this campaign, in particular every Wednesday. Hump day rolls around, and it reminds people of the ad and of Geico. They go searching for the ad, they share it with others, and it helps build word of mouth about the brand. As a result, that ad is one of the most viral, most shared ads online at this moment.

S+B: What’s the next frontier in terms of behavioral research and marketing?
One thing that my colleagues and I are thinking about now is how the different channels that we use for sharing affect what we say. Face to face, we don’t want to sit in silence, so we say anything to pass the time. But online is a written medium, which allows us more time to construct and refine what we want to pass on. We curate our online identity. We can delete our post, we can revise our post, or we can decide not to send it.

Online it’s much more about social currency—how is this going to make me look (and if it won’t make me look good, how can I revise it), whereas offline it’s much more about triggers—what’s top-of-mind that can fill the conversational space. By carefully considering how people share in a given context, companies can better design their messages for that context. Tailoring messages based on the communication channel will be essential for marketers. 

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