Matt Morrison explains why social media is inherently marketing resistant

October 29, 2009 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Events | 3 Comments
Tags: influence, porter novelli, social media marketing, word of mouth

There was a sense in the room, at our WOM UK espresso briefing yesterday morning, that Global Head of Digital for Porter Novelli Matt Morrison (aka @mediaczar) was saying what many marketers are secretly realising but few are brave enough to admit: that pushing brand messages in social media doesn’t work.

WOM Espresso 1

After the packed room of agency professionals, brand execs, academics, and interested civilians had had their fill of coffee, croissants and networking, Matt explained the different ways in which PN have attempted to model the influence of individuals in social media in order to push brand messages – and just how inadequate those models have proved to be.

In his presentation (embedded below), Matt looked at the elements that make someone influential in a network – their popularity (otherwise known as reach), their betweenness (how central they are in connecting others), their homophily (how they flock together with likeminded folk) and their susceptibility (how persuadable they are) – and demonstrated how PN created visual maps of influence for key individuals. However, he also discussed how impossible it is in practice to truly track our influences. Most social media campaigns simply result in an unsustained and isolated  ’hiccough’ of activity thanks to the inevitable clash between brand self-interest and the motivations of their customers.

This isn’t to say the conclusions were entirely bleak. Matt agreed that an ethical and authentic word of mouth approach, which puts the messages and needs of the consumer before those of the brand, and relies on listening and co-creation rather than one-way broadcasting, is both effective and inspiring. The problem is instead the reluctance of brands to value this approach, or invest the required budget in a fully sophisticated WOM strategy.

The takeaway message was that education is essential – brands must understand what truly effective and consumer-focused word of mouth means, and costs, if they are to have any meaningful engagement in social media. Until then, many agencies will get away with cheap, pointless viral campaigns that give WOM a bad name. For me, it was an empowering endorsement of WOM UK’s mission to provide education and professional and ethical development.

This is what we love to see in our espresso briefings – provocative issues and challenges aired in a safe space where those interested in WOM can illuminate and debate what’s really happening in the industry. Look out for November’s espresso being hosted by Face, and come along to hear Dr Martin Oetting on November 18th if you want a taste of just how powerful WOM marketing – done the right way – can be.

November WOM Thought Leader event: Dr Martin Oetting discusses The Ripple Effect: Driving word of mouth with empowerment

October 27, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Posted in Events | 4 Comments
Tags: martin oetting, social media marketing, the ripple effect, wom uk, word of mouth marketing

On 5pm Wednesday 18th November join us for our monthly WOM thought leadership event when Dr Martin Oetting will present ‘The Ripple Effect: Driving word of mouth with empowerment’, followed by discussions and networking over a glass of wine.

martinAcademics have been researching word of mouth since the 1950s, yet few have tried to find out how to actually stimulate it. Having studied the past 60 years of WOM research, Dr Oetting made the fascinating discovery that companies can create ripple effects if they treat customers and consumers like their best employees – empowering them and making them part of the marketing process. Combined with the tools of the social web, from Facebook to blogs, this becomes a powerful recipe for marketing in the 21st century – and Dr Oetting will show you how.

Martin Oetting is partner and Chief Research Director at word-of-mouth marketing network trnd (Munich/Barcelona). ‘Ripple Effect’ is his doctorate dissertation, newly published by Gabler (Science), and you can read a recent interview with him at SocialMediaBiz here.

In line with the social, conversational spirit of WOM UK sessions, the presentation will be FREE TO ALL and take place from 5-6.30pm with discussion and networking continuing afterwards over a glass of wine from 6.30-8pm (and really inspired individuals are welcome to join us in a local pub after that!) The event is being held at Grey, The Johnson Building, 77 Hatton Garden, London, EC1N 8JS, and we’d like to thank Grey for very generously sponsoring the event.

Pre-register with [email protected]. WOM UK members get first refusal, so hurry – this is one not to be missed.

Member profile: Steve Barton of OgilvyOne and Advokator

October 23, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Posted in Member profile | Leave a Comment
Tags: ogilvyone, social media marketing, steve barton, wom uk, word of mouth marketing

Welcome to our new series of Member Profiles blog posts, intended to give you an insight into who’s behind the association and what they’re currently up to. These are the people who are leading the educational and ethical agenda of WOM UK, and who provide ongoing talks, workshops and consultancy for our members, so come along to our next event and say hi.

steveFirst up is Steve Barton, the ex-President and now Treasurer of WOM UK who has been central to the establishment and development of the association. Steve grew up in Rocky River, Ohio, and graduated from Brown University in 1984 with a degree in Organisational Behaviour and Management. He arrived on the international marketing scene in 1990 when OgilvyOne transferred him from New York to London, and since then, he has managed international communications and developed award award-winning strategies for a number of blue chip companies; Microsoft, Save the Children, Compaq, IBM, Kodak, VSO, Holiday Inn, Kellogg’s, Unilever and Zurich Inusrance are just a few.

Steve blends strategic insight with entrepreneurial drive. He has successfully started up a number of communications agencies in London, including Jones Mason Barton Antenen, Leonardo (for Leo Burnett), and Keevill Barton Kershaw. Steve returned to Ogilvy in 2008 as Global Brand Partner on the Zurich Insurance business. He is also a director of word of mouth marketing company Advokator and a Non Exec Directory for digital agency Maynard Malone.

He is a regular keynote speaker and chair at conferences around the world on such topics as word of mouth marketing, digital and direct marketing. He runs workshops at corporate events for the likes of Royal Mail, IBM, Orient Express Hotels, and Celerant Consulting. And he can be seen regularly in the media – Campaign, Marketing, CNBC Money Wheel, BBC2 Working Lunch and Skynews.

You can catch Steve speaking at Media140 in London on Monday 26th October; hear him talking about his presentation at AudioBoo. He’ll also be attending our next WOM UK Espresso Briefing on Wednesday 28th October, where Porter Novelli are presenting on Social network analysis: approach and case studies. All our briefings are free, so click here for full details and to register for a place – there’ll be plenty of time to talk WOM over a coffee and croissant before the briefing with Steve and the other WOM UK crew.

Make your affiliations clear with

October 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Posted in Ethics | Leave a Comment
Tags: advertising,, disclosure, Ethics, social media, word of mouth

Interesting post over at Mashable about new service, which allows social media users to broadcast any affiliations they have with advertisers and brands. Coming on the heels of the new FTC Guidelines in the US (whereby lack of transparency can be punished with a hefty fine), the site will prove useful to online opinion-formers from any country who want to protect themselves and their readers. provides six simple bits of code to grab and display at the bottom of a post or tweet to express your degree of independence, such as complete freedom; employee; sample or trial; paid conversation; and a custom badge.


It’s an interesting nod towards just how different social media could look in the future, as self-consciousness around advertising and the power of the consumer voice trickles down to even the most casual users.

Join us at WOMMA’s Summit 2009

October 19, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Events | 1 Comment
Tags: las vegas, social media, wom uk, womma, womma summit 2009, word of mouth


Who needs an excuse to go to Vegas? Well, we’ve got a good one: WOMMA’s 2009 Summit, the annual event that gathers together top agencies, marketers and brands for 3 days of presentations, discussions and networking about global word of mouth, running from 18th-20th November. This year the theme is Creating Talkable Brands: Beyond Social Media and sessions include the likes of:

- Scott Monty, Global Head of Social Media at Ford, on Making Ford Social
- Lauren Bernshausen of Coca-Cola on using WOM to test market new beverage concepts
- Amanda Zaky of Mars on establishing an integrated corporate social media policy
- Neil Beam of AT&T and Natalie Petouhoff of Forrester Research on WOM ROI
- Answers from academics on WOM’s toughest questions

… and much much more. You can check out the full agenda and register here. WOMMA is WOM UK’s partner across the pond and we’re delighted to see the US branch of so many of our own members such as Ogilvy and Porter Novelli talking at the event. I (WOM UK President Molly Flatt) will be attending throughout and reporting back on the buzz so let us know if you’re coming along as I’d love to see any current or prospective WOM UK members there. If you’re very nice, I might even buy you a cocktail…

OK, so it’s a bit of a WOM UK sales pitch

October 14, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Posted in News | Leave a Comment
Tags: Ethics, membership, professional development, social media marketing, wom uk, word of mouth marketing

We’ve just produced a shiny new one-pager outlining the membership benefits and levels of WOM UK, so it seemed only fair to bring it to your attention. Seriously, if you’re interested in the word of mouth industry and you haven’t yet joined the agencies, brands, data bureaux, research firms, academics, and social media movers and shakers already taking full advantage of our professional and ethical development resources and events (see our list of current members here), you’re missing out on a very vibrant scene. We’ll help you stay at the frontline of the marketing revolution, and this is definitely the time to get involved.

Download our PDF below and email [email protected] to ask any questions, sign up, and make sure you’ll get everything you need out of WOM UK.

October Espresso Briefing: Global PR leaders Porter Novelli present their latest WOM case studies

October 12, 2009 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Events | 2 Comments
Tags: Case studies, porter novelli, PR, social media, word of mouth

Word of mouth is an industry awash in rhetoric. Everyone’s got their piece to say about why consumer buzz is the lifeblood of brands, their golden rules and their do’s and don’ts. But there are far fewer practical examples of good WOM campaigns: the thinking behind them, the execution, and the results. Our free monthly Espresso Briefings – work in progress updates from leading practitioners – aim to redress the balance.

On 8.30am, Wednesday 28th October, Matt Morrison, Global Head of Digital for Porter Novelli, will present on Social network analysis: approach and case studies.


The presentation will be “work in progress” covering a brief background on social network analysis and how Porter Novelli have applied it to Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere to identify clusters & cliques, and spread WOM through influencers, spreaders, and hubs.

Matt will talk about some of their other clients’ case studies (the good the bad and the ugly!) – notably the phone-around they ran for HP TSG – and some of PN’s experiments like OPML and their resulting learnings. By looking at how UK politicians, US congressmen, and the PR industry use Twitter, Matt will drill down into what makes a successful microblogging campaign. And he’ll share the knowledge, processes, and tools  that they use for gathering and processing data, like Perl scripts and Yahoo! Pipes.

Join us for the presentation, along with breakfast and networking until 10am, at Porter Novelli, 31 St Petersburgh, Place, London W2 4LA – email [email protected] to register. Members get priority on places, so if you haven’t already joined us, what are you waiting for?

Emanuel Rosen revisits the rules of buzz at WOM UK event

October 8, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Events | 5 Comments
Tags: buzz marketing, emanuel rosen, social media, the anatomy of buzz, wom uk

Yesterday morning’s inaugural WOM UK Thought Leaders event kicked off with a bang (or should that be a buzz…) with Emanuel Rosen‘s fantastic presentation The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Lessons in Word of Mouth Marketing. With 100 WOM practitioners, marketing agencies, brands, academics and curious individuals packed into Ogilvy’s luxurious Canary Wharf pad armed with coffee, carbs and a free copy of Emanuel’s book, there was a great atmosphere and a high level of debate.


Emanuel’s presentation clearly outlined 7 key strategies for stimulating buzz, along with an overview of research, a cautionary note of common misconceptions, and a quick look at the future of the industry.


His use of inspiring and original case studies showed how the theories of WOM marketing are already being used across the globe with great success, and the exhortation running through the session – that brands find ways to use WOM for genuinely positive and socially beneficial purposes – brought a great sense of empowerment to the room. See his presentation below.

We’ll shortly be uploading the video of the presentation – in the meantime big thanks are due to Emanuel, our sponsors Ogilvy, Porter Novelli, Pass It On Media and 1000heads, and all the attendees for helping make the event such a success.

Our November Thought Leaders session will feature Dr Martin Oetting, Chief Research Director at European WOM marketing network trnd, presenting his doctoral dissertation on ‘The Ripple Effect’ – how companies can spread WOM by treating their customers like their best employees. Watch out here and on our Twitter feed for more details.

FTC release Guidelines for Endorsements (and Bloggers) in the US

October 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Posted in Ethics, News | 2 Comments
Tags: FTC guidelines for endorsements, social media ethics, wom uk, womma, word of mouth ethics

FTCThis morning has seen the final release of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s guidelines for endorsements and bloggers  in the US. Although WOM UK is focused on professional and ethical development within the UK, word of mouth marketing is a global industry. Thanks to social media many campaigns operate internationally, both on and offline, so these guidelines will doubtless impact on the conduct of businesses and marketers this side of the pond. It’s worth downloading the PDF and having a read.

We’re doubly interested in the release because our sister organisation in the US, WOMMA – with whom we share a Code of Ethics and Best Practice – has been key in influencing the guidelines. Check out this post outlining their meaning by WOMMA President John Bell, and leave a comment on what impact you think they might have for the UK.

WOM UK Guest Post: Emanuel Rosen on The Dangers of Secondhand Buzz

October 5, 2009 at 10:17 am | Posted in Events, Guest post | 1 Comment
Tags: emmanuel rosen, negative word of mouth, secondhand buzz, wom uk

As a teaser for his presentation in London at 8.30am this Wednesday 7th October, internationally renowned word of mouth author Emanuel Rosen has written an exclusive article for us on one of the big worries for brands in social media: negative, uninformed WOM. Read on below and make sure to register for his talk – you’ll get a chance to network with the UK’s top WOM agencies and get a free copy of his book too!

EMMANUELOne of the most interesting studies I read in conducting the research for my new book was done by Dr. Robert East from Kingston University in London. He found that about 30% of negative word of mouth comes from people who never owned the product that they were talking about. If you’re a marketer, I’m sure this is pretty upsetting: you’re working hard on developing a product or a service, and people are badmouthing it without giving it a chance.

But consumers should be annoyed by this too because secondhand buzz is not very helpful. In its purest form, word of mouth is a filtering mechanism that we use in order to find good products. In a society where every person recommends only products that they personally tried and liked, good products will quickly rise to the top. When people simply relay information that they heard, you get something that could be best described as a buzz bubble, as depicted in some book reviews that I found on “I haven’t read this book but judging from the online reviews below, I don’t think it’s a very good book” (one star). Or “I haven’t read this book yet, but my friend has and she said it was a really cool book…” (five stars).

As consumers and as marketers, we should try to reduce secondhand buzz. Specifically, here’s what marketers can do about it. A good way to start is to divide the people who talk about your brand into four groups: experience-based promoters (“I tried it. It’s great”), experience-based detractors (“I tried it. It’s terrible”), secondhand promoters (“Julie says it’s great”), and secondhand detractors (“Joe says it’s terrible”). And here’s what you should do with each group:

1. Maximize the number of experience-based promoters
Research shows that experience-based buzz is more likely to bring sales. The Keller Fay Group found that 53% of the people who listen to experience-based positive buzz mark 9 or 10 on a 0-10 scale of likelihood to purchase a product. In the case of second-hand positive word of mouth, the percentage of people who mark the top boxes drops to 33%. And that’s why it’s so important to trigger your happy customers to spread the word. A big part of word-of-mouth marketing is about reminding people who had a positive experience with your brand to talk about it. This will not stop the secondhand detractors from talking, but will reduce the percentage of their comments in the overall mix.

2. Encourage secondhand promoters to try your product
Of course it’s great that these secondhand promoters are buzzing about your brand, but their ability to create actual sales is not as high as the experience-based promoters. So secondhand promoters should be triggered to keep spreading the word, and equally important – to actually use the product! Their buzz will become more valuable.

3. Listen to experience-based detractors
Listening to bad buzz can be painful, but by doing it you achieve two goals: first, you can find unhappy customers (experience-based detractors), solve their problem, and possibly turn them into promoters. Even more importantly, you may identify problems in your system that will allow you to improve the experience of future customers and reduce additional negative buzz. (And there are so many ways to listen to buzz these days: pick up the phone and talk to customers, meet them at retail outlets, read what’s being said about you in blogs and Twitter, set up a private online community, run surveys, talk to the people at your call center…)

4. Three things to do with secondhand detractors
First, you should listen to them, too. They may be repeating a valid complaint, thus helping you identify a problem that is fixable. Second, you can try to find them and let them try the product, although this may be impractical in many cases. Third, as mentioned earlier, you should reduce their influence by encouraging your happy customers to talk. Perhaps the most important thing here is to build an immune system that will reduce the impact of their negative comments on the rest of your audience. There’s a name for this immune system. It’s called reputation, and it is affected by the consumer experience with your product and by what they have heard about you over the years. This is where advertising and public relations can help too in setting the facts straight. Word-of-mouth marketing does not work in isolation.

The main point is this—a firm can and should be proactive about minimizing unjustified negative word of mouth and maximizing positive word of mouth. You can’t afford to leave things to chance.

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