Word-of-Mouth Rhetorics in Social Media Talk
38 Pages Posted: 7 May 2012 Last revised: 8 Jan 2013
Date Written: May 7, 2012
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
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