For all the wonders of digital marketing and social media, it’s a little easy for us marketers to forget the astounding power of personal relationships in advocacy for a brand. Several years back I read a great little book called Contagious (2013) by Jonah Berger about why things go viral, or why people share ideas in general. Berger posited that it’s a blend of social currency, triggers, emotions and narrative (among other factors) that drive people to contribute and share resources in everyday conversation. Briefly, here are those components:

  • Social currency means having something valuable enough to spend (share) in a social context and receive a positive feeling for that contribution.
  • Triggers refer to cultural or social rhythms that offer the reminder to share that social currency. Singing Friday by Rebecca Black every Friday, just because it’s Friday.
  • Emotions, in this context, refer to the happiness, sadness, frustration, anger or humor attached to an idea. Emotions are tied to memory.
  • And Narrative simply means a story-based structure (beginning, middle and end) that provides the delivery vehicle for an idea

I find that more than digital relationships, it’s face-to-face interactions that present these four elements in the right human tincture that make for good memory.

Still True

Recently, we decided to take a little of our own advice and conduct an anonymous brand perception survey among our clients to find out how they felt about us and our industry. The results were both illuminating and encouraging, but one particular finding stood out from the rest.

We asked where our clients get information to make decisions about working with a business like ours – their defining and influential sources. Here’s what we heard:

  1. Word of Mouth (75%+ respondents)
  2. Google
  3. Our Website
  4. Everything else

After spending some time looking through the individual results, I suppose it’s not a huge revelation, but I was still pleasantly surprised. Going in, I thought that as a PR and marketing outfit maybe all the earned and social media we go after would have a greater impact.

With Word of Mouth leading so clearly, it changed the trajectory of how we’re planning our own new business strategy for 2019 toward a much stronger mix of networking opportunities, referral requests and many, many coffees (I’ll drink at least a swimming pool’s worth of coffee this year).

That’s not to say we’ll ditch the rest of the marketing mix, but it’s more likely that our social, earned and owned media will point toward opportunities to create face-to-face connections more than they will our services and capabilities.

Allison Matz

Matz joins the Boileau team with writing and communication experience from her previous role as Academic Department Coordinator at Grand Valley State University, her alma mater. She earned her degree in English literature and writing and enjoys being able to express creativity and storytelling through her chosen career.

Berkeley Benson

Prior to joining Boileau, Benson worked as a writer and illustrator for both agency and in-house organizations. In 2018, she graduated from Cedarville University with a bachelor’s in professional writing and information design.

About the Author

Vince Boileau
Vince is a strategic thinker, communicator and leader. He is passionate about helping others to tell complex stories with nuance and authenticity. Vince is dedicated to growing a company that creates meaningful change for our clients, team and the communities where we work. He earned his bachelor's in communications from Grand Valley State University in 2008, served for three years as editor and assistant director at a media production company and joined Boileau & Co. in 2012. In his free time, Vince enjoys playing and recording music, socializing over nerdy board games, watching good sci-fi, and doubling as a jungle gym for his three kids.
More posts from Vince Boileau

Recent & Related

Good Writing Starts with Empathy

Good Writing Starts with Empathy

In spite of so many shared societal experiences over the past two years, our connection to one another feels low on the ground these days. We all felt the same exhaustion and experienced the same pandemic stress, yet we have a hard time recognizing that our neighbors...

Why Kids Know What IYKYK Means and You Don’t

Why Kids Know What IYKYK Means and You Don’t

Children are acutely aware of how expansive the world is and how little they understand it. That’s a large part of what makes them fun to be around—they still have a lot to learn. Curiosity for kids is the default. Why is the sky blue? What makes that top spin? How do...

How to Launch a Podcast for Your Business: A Complete Guide

How to Launch a Podcast for Your Business: A Complete Guide

Create a fantastic podcast that will educate, entertain and edify your audience (and maybe do something for your business at the same time). Introduction to Podcasts What is a podcast? If you’re on this post, you probably already know what a podcast is, but because...