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WOMF?!

November 10, 2008

I started hearing the ads on the radio a few weeks ago. “Have you tried that new restaurant?” “No, not yet, let’s go on WOMF and see what people are saying about it!” “WOMF?”

No, it is not a variation on the phrase that it naturally elicits as a response: WTF. WOMF stands for Word of Mouth Forum, a web forum for people to share opinions on local restaurants, stores, services, virtually anything that can be bitched about or lauded.

I didn’t think much of the ad until I walked into a cafe recently and there was a little card dispenser placed in a strategically visible part of the counter holding business cards advertising the service. Hmm, this WOMF seems to be gaining a little traction, or at least has a tenacious marketing team, I thought.

A little research turned up that WOMF is an Australian idea that they (the people behind WOMF) are trying to turn into a global force. Interestingly Hawaii is one of only a few states that has WOMF so far. Geographically it makes sense, but also culturally. There is already a strong word-of-mouth culture here in Hawaii.

Paradoxically this may be the kiss of death for WOMF – the service will have to compete with a strong, pre-existing, organically grown network. Not to mention a plethora of sites such as outside.in that already seem to offer similar services.

I don’t really care if it lives or dies. I just see it as an interesting – and literal – incarnation of the elusive word-of-mouth phenomenon that everyone’s trying so hard leverage.

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