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Who or what really influences word of mouth trends?

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Purpose - To explain the crucial factors in word-of-mouth (WOM) trends. Design/methodology/approach - Summarizes Duncan Watts' questioning of the role of influencers in marketing and the implications for theories of influence. Findings - Watts' results point to the importance of a well-known network theory, Granovetter's strength of weak ties, which implies that sometimes a person with just a few weak ties may be more influential than an individual who is well connected within a group. Suggests that much of the theory surrounding influencers relies on anecdotal evidence with ambiguous language, post-hoc reasoning and a biased selection of events and believes that more empirical testing of underlying assumptions about influence is needed, taking the form of focusing on processes of influence and on tangible outcomes. Concludes that influence is the outcome of a complex combination of properties about people, contexts and networks and that certain people can be more influential than others outside their immediate social network. Research limitations/implications - Recommends unveiling the interaction between psychometric and sociometric forces of influence and comparing the effect of campaigns on conversions. Originality/value - Warns that sometimes good stories travel faster and further than true ones and that this applies to marketing hypotheses and marketing messages alike.

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