Word of Mouth Through Triggers

Word of Mouth Through Triggers

Influencer Marketing
Social Media Marketing


Last month, WOMMA was fortunate enough to have viral expert Jonah Berger come speak at our annual WOMM-U conference in Chicago where he discussed his six steps towards creating contagious content. Triggers, or the T in his six STEPPS system, was the rather popular stage that resonated with our word of mouth marketing audience.

The Wharton marketing professor and best-selling author of Contagious describes triggers as little environmental reminders for related concepts and ideas. For example, what is the first word that comes to mind when I mention peanut butter?

Chances are, you are now thinking of jelly. Let’s try another. What comes to mind when I say Philadelphia? Some may say the Liberty Bell, but many think of Philly cheesesteaks. These are examples of triggers and instant word of mouth marketing for brands doing no work whatsoever.

However, to truly take advantage of effective triggers, marketers need to grasp the idea of ongoing word of mouth instead of immediate word of mouth. One great example in his book is when an employee walks into their office wearing a pirate outfit. That day, there is no doubt everyone in the office will be joking and kidding around with the employee, but chances are, one week or one month from then, most people will have forgotten that moment.

Instead, in order to really capitalize on your existing word of mouth marketing programs, you need to create consistent triggers to enhance ongoing word of mouth. That means, your product or service needs to be top of mind of your consumers on a frequent basis, not just the day you decide to wear a pirate outfit to work.

As much as I hate doing this, a very good example of being top of mind on a frequent basis is Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song. The video is below, but forewarning, the lyrics are pretty horrid.


Needless to say, the song needs work, but did you happen to see how many times that video has been viewed. To date, over 53 million. Yes, I said million.

Looking a little deeper, let’s see when people searched this video from March 2011 through April 2011. Thanks to Jonah Berger, he did the research for us. Before you look, I will tell you that you will see spikes on a certain day of the week. Can you guess which one?

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You guessed it. Every Friday generated the most searches for that week. How come you ask? The trigger of hearing that song before, knowing the name of the song and knowing the lyrics of that song set off a little bell in peoples’ minds to go and listen. Every Friday, this song was top of mind because the day of the week set off a trigger and that encourages people to go and search for the video. Despite a horrible song, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is a prime of example of how triggers can make a product or service go viral with ongoing word of mouth.

I encourage anyone who enjoyed this post to check out Berger’s Contagious which will undoubtedly ignite an idea in your head that will only strengthen your current word of mouth marketing program.

This is a guest post by Jacob Hurwith, Marketing and Social Media coordinator, WOMMA

Jacob Hurwith

After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jacob began his career as a freelance journalist for various Sun-Times in Chicago. He then rejoined the real estate arena working for a prominent commercial brokerage firm. Jacob handled all public relations, email marketing, social media and design initiatives for the organization. Since joining WOMMA, he has had the privilege to fine tune his writing skills as the blog editor for the All Things WOMM blog. When he is not working, Jacob loves to run along the lake, write, cook, attend Chicago White Sox games and spend time with his college buddies.

Written By

Dennis O'Malley , CEO

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