Chew, P. and Wirtz, J., National University of Singapore, Singapore
With the advent of the Internet age, word of mouth (WOM) is now able to spread faster and achieve a wider reach, compared to before. The success of hotmail demonstrates the power of what has now been termed as "viral marketing" by some. Our study uses qualitative methods to uncover the psychological and personality motivations of people spreading positive WOM via the Internet. Specially, we seek to understand what factors differentiate those who spread positive WOM, from those who do not. Also, there have been many studies about computer-mediated communication (CMC) and its characteristics, but very few on just WOM itself. One defining feature of CMC is anonymity. Anonymity has been known to have a disinhibiting effect on people, and it influences the way they communicate. Thus, we look into how anonymity affects the spread of positive WOM. In addition, there are many virtual communities and these social interactions do result in WOM being spread. Thus, we also study how tie strength interacts with anonymity to impact on positive WOM. Lastly, we will examine the managerial implications of positive Internet WOM and see what companies can do to encourage satisfied customers to give referrals.