Word-­of-­Mouth Rhetorics in Social Media Talk

38 Pages Posted: 7 May 2012 Last revised: 8 Jan 2013

See all articles by Anat Toder Alon

Anat Toder Alon

Peres Academic Center

Frederic F. Brunel

Boston University

Susan Fournier

Boston University

Date Written: May 7, 2012

Abstract

Although researchers and practitioners have access to a growing body of evidence on the effects of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) frequency and valence, a more detailed understanding of eWOM content is needed in order to better influence these social media-enabled conversations. Based on an ethnomethodological analysis of community conversations in a popular parenting online forum, we reveal that eWOM is a powerful social act in which consumers use of a broad repertoire of eWOM rhetorical methods. The repertoire for advice-seeking talk includes five components: seeker's legitimacy, topic legitimacy, request formulation, solicitation of responders and requested response framing. The repertoire for advice-giving includes four components: foundation of authority, advice framing, advice focus, and advice scheme. For each of these components in the two repertoires, we identify corresponding rhetorical methods that can be used in the conversation (over 30 methods in total). Preliminary evidence also suggests that rhetorical alignment between advice-seekers and givers drives effectiveness of eWOM advice. The proposed rhetorical framework has relevance and implication for the many areas where social media and marketing meet.

Keywords: Electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM), Word-of-Mouth (WOM), Rhetorical Methods, Social Media, Online Forum, Community

Suggested Citation

Toder Alon, Anat and Brunel, Frederic F. and Fournier, Susan, Word-­of-­Mouth Rhetorics in Social Media Talk (May 7, 2012). Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2012-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2052737 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2052737

Anat Toder Alon

Peres Academic Center ( email )

P.O.Box 328
Rehovot, 76120
Israel

Frederic F. Brunel (Contact Author)

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617 353 4609 (Phone)
617 353 4098 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://smgnet.bu.edu/mgmt_new/profiles/BrunelFrederic.html

Susan Fournier

Boston University ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617 353 2773 (Phone)

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