Or at least it could be argued that it has evolved to a point that it is unrecognizable in its current format. Here’s how it used to work: before mobile devices completely changed how consumers found information, shopped and communicated, if you wanted to find inside information, you had to ask.
Usually, this meant getting the opinion, recommendation or review from a friend, neighbor or co-worker. The reason word of mouth was so dominate for so long was because you knew the source. It wasn’t a billboard telling you they had the best service and rates. It was a friend. You trusted them.
Now in the true digital age of our human existence, we want the same reliable results, without the time and hassle of having to inquire or ask. That desire has lead to review sites and local listings information, where complete strangers share their experiences and curious consumers eat it up.
One of the main reasons local review sites work so well is because of the law of averages. Let’s say there are 50 reviews about a restaurant online. Sure, there could be a handful that were manipulated. Maybe a competitor posted a bad review. Maybe a customer just caught the establishment at the wrong short-staffed and busy time. But if 40 people agree that the place is either good or bad, you can most likely trust that.
The second main reason is that people who post reviews usually don’t have an ulterior motive outside of sharing their experience. They don’t work for any restaurant nor do they have a “dog in the fight.” If they had a good time, they post. Bad time, even more so.
For local information there’s Yelp, Angie’s List, Citysearch, Open Table, TripAdvisor, YP, Zagat and hundreds more. Word of mouth is now written and from complete strangers. And it works and users love it.