Lost in Translation: The Social Shaping of Marketing Messaging

Open access


Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) does not travel as unidirectionally and straight as previously assumed. Rather, consumers are active co-producers of value and translate and transform marketing meanings. Word of mouth resulting from marketing communications can be anything from euphoric to resistant, and the discourse evolving around a product seeding has a strong impact on how this product is perceived. As messages become translated into meaningful, communally shared material, particular cultural restraints cause possibilities open up, rules to become less constraining, and the principles and guidelines for successful social branding engagement to become much more about human relationships than one-way communication. Social brand engagement is a genuine, natural interconnection between brand mentions and consumer-to-consumer social experiences. Therefore, simply observing the reach and valence of product mentions is too short sighted. To effectively attain social brand engagement, promotions need to seem authentic and congruent with people, media, other content and the offline or online context. A deep analysis of what is going on in the prospective environment of a message to be seeded is a precondition for the optimal design of a WOMM campaign and the accurate interpretation of its success.