Using crowdsourcing and co-creation for adaptive brand planning

November 26, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Events, Research | 1 Comment
Tags: adaptive brand planning, co-creation, crowdsourcing, research 3.0, social media, wom uk, word of mouth

Word of mouth marketing is usually associated with building consumer advocacy, but this week’s WOM UK Espresso Briefing looked at a more inward focused use of WOM: using the groundswell of consumer knowledge and enthusiasm as a research base to develop an adaptive brand planning strategy.

Head of Social Media and Planning for Face, Francisco D’Orazio, presented Research 3.0 to a packed east London room of agencies, brands and researchers all interested in the latest developments in the WOM industry. After half an hour’s coffee and networking, Fran explained how brands can use our participatory, real time and constantly changing culture to move research onto a whole new level.

He identified three key elements in the process. Companies must first learn to immerse themselves in the real time intelligence available in social media to build a picture of the emotions, intentions and actions of consumers. They can then use this to develop an insight journey, or feedback loop, which should be as short as possible in order for them to change quickly, according to the opinions evolving in the space.

The next step is to conduct collaborative research in two ways. First, a wider crowdsourcing project connects a number of relevant individuals and communities around problem-solving tasks which prompt both hypothesis validation and ideas generation for the brand’s marketing. Then a more focused co-creation stage gathers a select few opinion leaders to test the best ideas and nail down specific proposals for activity. Both strategies have limitations by themselves – crowdsourcing can be rather messy, impersonal and limited by confidentiality constraints, while co-creation can be too rigid and retains a few-to-many philosophy – but together they combine individual and group thinking, bottom and top down structures, to provide a nuanced and effective outcome. Check out Fran’s deck below for more detail.

This was a fresh and exciting concept for many in the room and there was some animated discussion afterwards, around where the collaborators come from (a mixture of Face’s own communities and per-project targeted voices), the tricky issue of reward (different incentives and payments are offered depending on the client), and the role of brand-sponsored WOM in skewing the real time intelligence (there was a general concensus that communities would remain self-regulating and analysis could take into account the dubious value of those paid-for opinions). It was great to see so many new faces, suggesting that WOM UK events are addressing issues a broad range of people are interested in.

If you think you might be one of them, keep an eye out for our next FREE Espresso Briefing – details soon.

The latest WOM issues and insights from WOMMA Summit 09

November 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Events, Research | 3 Comments
Tags: Measurement, Research, roi, social media, wom uk, womma summit, word of mouth

WOM UK President Molly Flatt hit Vegas last week for the annual conference of our US sister organisation, WOMMA…

Having arrived back in Heathrow at midnight, I’m still dogged by jetlag and trying to assimilate the great eclectic beast that was WOMMA’s 2009 Summit in Vegas, no less. With three days of keynotes, panels and case studies from some of the biggest US brands active in the WOM space such as Ford, HP and Coca-Cola, as well as research from the likes of Forrester Research, Nielsen and The Keller Fay Group, it was a mindblast of the latest theories and commercial applications of WOM.

Measurement was predictably high on the agenda. Clients are crying out for industry-wide standards, but there was an acknowledgment that meaningful metrics will be be different according to client objectives (visibility, sales, loyalty etc) and therefore project-specific education is still essential. Conversation relies on context, while most ad metrics are stand-alone and focused on scale alone. Consequently, the most successful examples of effective measurement involved a brand combining insights and figures from other departments (sales, eyeballs, customer services calls etc) with a broad range of qual and quant WOM data.

Internal ownership was also a massive issue, with some great sessions from IBM & Newell Rubbermaid and Mars on how they’ve integrated WOM listening and advocacy programmes into their existing structures and processes. This was related to an ongoing conversation about how Customer Services links with WOM. A panel including Pete Blackshaw from Nielsen, Frank Eliason from Comcast, Tom Asher from Levi Strauss, Denise Morrissey from Toyota and John Bernier from Best Buy looked at examples such as @TWELPFORCE and @comcastcares which fully integrate Twitter into CS. The main takeaway was: just try, keep communicating, and help employees learn and progress from their mistakes. Take the risk, and as long as your approach has integrity and strategy behind it, the benefits will be enormous.

Another highlight was Steve Knox from P&G’s Tremor using cognitive psychology to explain why customers talk – apparently if you disrupt their schema (the model in their head of how the world works and their assumptions about a brand) it’s WOM gold. And the panel of WOM academics tackling the toughest questions in the industry had some powerful messages, in particular the importance of overlooked visual, aural and offline WOM triggers; the need for research into geographical and cultural differences in behaviour; and the use of future visioning to sell in the value of WOM to brands: if we do or don’t engage this talkative customer, what will the impact be?

Steve Knox from Tremor on cognitive psychology. Spot me earnestly taking notes on my Mac…

On the flipside, some of the examples I saw were still too based around an old-school marketing approach. Isn’t a moderated, branded page or forum in an independent community (such as Tropicana for BlogHer) really just a microsite dressed up in social clothing? From a WOM UK perspective, it was interesting to observe the differences in approach between the US and UK. I’m not sure that some of the more gung-ho, blatantly branded adovacy groups such as the Feld Family Activators at Mom Central would gain much traction in a nation that tends to be highly sceptical of associating itself so strongly with commerce. And some agencies were even stipulating time limits whereby participants were ‘expected’ to talk in return for goods or experiences – where’s the spontaneous, independent and heartfelt advocacy in that?

Overall it was a rich and stimulating event and I’m sure more thoughts and observations will trickle through across the next few weeks. For more, check out my live tweets from the Summit @WOMUK, as well as video highlights here and photos here. And if you want a more detailed lowdown on insights and issues raised, just drop me a line and I’d be happy to take you through it over a coffee… or indeed a Vegas-themed cocktail.

UPDATE: Change of venue for tomorrow’s Espresso Briefing

November 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Events, News | Leave a Comment
Tags: adaptive brand planning, social media event, WOM event, wom uk

Big apologies are due as we’ve had to make a last-minute change to the venue for tomorrow, Tuesday 24th November’s WOM UK Espresso Briefing on ‘Monitoring and analysing WOM in real time to enable adaptive brand planning’ by Face. It will now be held at Insight Research Group, 11-13 Charterhouse Buildings, London, EC1M 7AP (closest tubes Farringdon and Barbican) at the same time, 8.30-10.30am. With croissants, coffee, an insightful WOM presentation and a dollop of networking thrown in, it’s well worth coming.

Register for your FREE place with [email protected] if you haven’t already and we look forward to seeing you there – at the new venue!

Martin Oetting discusses the key drivers of empowered involvement at latest WOM UK event

November 20, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Events | 1 Comment
Tags: empowered involvement, martin oetting, social media, the ripple effect, word of mouth

Wednesday evening saw the second in our series of WOM UK Thought Leader events – and the first in our new time slot, offering more of a chance for relaxed networking over a glass of wine after the presentation. 50 WOM UK members and friends packed out Grey‘s east London offices to hear trnd’s Research Director, Dr Martin Oetting, give an extremely insightful talk on the importance of ‘Empowered Involvement’ in driving word of mouth.

Based on the findings of his doctoral thesis, The Ripple Effect, Martin’s presentation focused on the area of ‘contagious relationships’. He explained that marketers wanting to harness blogs, Facebook and the social web in order to build relationships, both with and between their customers, need to focus on four key drivers of Empowered Involvement – Meaning, Impact, Choice and Competence.

Using several case studies along the way to bring his presentation to life, Martin discussed examples such as Kettle Chips (competence), Livestrong (meaning) and Dell’s Idea Storm (impact) to show where brands have come up trumps, and examples such as Facebook (choice) to highlight where brands have come unstuck.

The presentation was followed by a lively Q&A, which touched on several different issues ranging from WOM metrics to the supposed decline of traditional advertising – see his presentation below and feel free to add any other comments and questions you have in the comments section of this post.

A big thanks to Grey for hosting our first evening slot, and we’d appreciate any feedback on how the later networking event compares to our monthly morning Espresso Briefing sessions. Talking of which, our next Espresso is with Face on Tuesday 24th November, where CEO, Andrew Needham and Head of Social Media & Planning, Francesco D’Orazio will share how real-time WOM monitoring and analysis can enable adaptive brand planning. Check out full details here and register for this event by emailing [email protected] your name, company, phone number and email address. As usual, attendance is free to all.

WOM UK Guest Post: Dr Martin Oetting explains why online marketing needs to become WOM advocacy

November 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Events, Guest post | 1 Comment
Tags: martin oetting, online marketing, trnd, wom uk, word of mouth

To whet your appetite for this Wednesday’s WOM Thought Leader event featuring Dr Martin Oetting from trnd presenting his doctoral thesis The Ripple Effect, Martin has written us an exclusive blog post about how online marketing is migrating to a focus on word of mouth. Click here for details and registration for the free evening networking event then read on…

OettingOnline marketing is all about data: clicks, hits, downloads, visits. Consumers are no longer strolling incognito but on digitally supervised grounds. They leave countless traces that savvy marketers mine, analyse, understand and leverage – to divide the audience into little pieces, turn them into handy segments, provide each and everyone with their own click-path, most conducive to purchase. This number-crunching game, undoubtedly, must be the online marketing story. Right?

Personally, I don’t believe this. I don’t believe that modern marketing is made most exciting by the sheer amount of data that we collect and mess with. Yes, this is amazing, but I think the wonder of the web, with regards to online marketing, lies somewhere else.

I think the real story is this: On the web, a Mom and Pop store can scale.

Let me explain. Word of mouth is thought to be the most powerful force in marketing. A number of researchers have found that there is an interesting factor that stimulates it: better, closer relationships between a company and its customers. It seems like a no-brainer (of course I’ll recommend the friendly guy more often than the idiot), but no one was interested in this research from a mass marketing perspective – after all, it sounds like advice you give a local restaurant or your favourite barber’s shop. If you are Unilever, Volkswagen or Barcley’s Bank, you cannot worry about forging real relationships with your customers. You have millions of them, and you’re too busy devising cunning advertising strategies, to reach each one of them at least 17 times over. So that they finally remember that one ad which “penetrates your strategic position deeply into the target group“ (or something like that). Under these circumstances, there is no way to build real relationships like the little corner shop can.

Prof. Robin Dunbar agreed. In 1992, he proposed what became known as Dunbar’s Number. As he was researching the cognitive capacity of humans, he estimated that a normal human being can have and maintain something like 150 meaningful relationships. On average, our brains are not capable of really keeping track of more people than that. Close or not so close ties with 150 people seems reasonable: they range from your spouse (as, arguably, the closest) all the way to the guy down the pub with whom you have a brief chat every so often but don’t remember his last name (as number 150). Now let us say a marketing department of a large multinational has 35 employees. Taken together, they can then maintain relationships with 5,250 people (35 times 150). If they market to millions, that seems awfully little. Besides, most of these 5,250 people are their friends (“Art, don’t start with that marketing bullshit of yours again.“). No way to heed the Academics’ advice, to stimulate word of mouth through relationships.

And then the web happened.

Let’s have a look. You now have a LinkedIn profile, two email accounts, a blog, a Facebook page, and you’re on Twitter. If we assume that you are really actively using these tools, and if we take all of these devices together, to count the number of people with whom you are in touch, know of, hear from every now and then, might look up in your account and remember, reply to on Twitter, briefly: engage with in some way, we might easily conclude that your number reaches 1,500 people. Maybe more.

In other words: the web allows us to multiply Dunbar’s number by ten. (And you don’t need to be Robert Scoble for that – he’s probably closer to 100 times Dunbar.) Now let’s go back to the fictitious marketing department from above, and let’s assume that each of the 35 employees actively and passionately use the tools I mentioned. Then they can – taken together – create, build and maintain relationships with 52,500 people. Relationships in which they show that the company listens. Provides answers. Is caring. Understands its customers. Admits faults and rights them. Responds. Just like, in former times, only Mom and Pop could, in the little cobbler’s shop on the corner of the street. The web allows us to scale up these relationships. To a level where it becomes interesting for the largest marketers around.

Because what’s going to happen? 52,500 people in that market become its distributed network of communication hubs – people who know the company. Who will defend the company in times of trouble. Who are out there in the market, who listen and report back what’s going on. Who can have an influence on the buying decisions of ten people each – that’s 525,000 potential new customers!

And rather than wasting another day in yet another strategy meeting, or pouring over the umpteenth market research deck, the marketing people can actually start to do real marketing – by learning from the world around them, by taking that insight into the company, and helping to turn it into the type of product that the world out there is waiting for.

I believe that is the real power of online marketing.

Member profile: Brad Little of Nielsen Online

November 10, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Posted in Member profile | Leave a Comment
Tags: brad little, nielsen, social media measurement, WOM research, wom uk

BradVice President of WOM UK, Brad Little, brings a true global perspective to the team. Starting his career Stateside with a degree from Cornell, Brad initially focused on direct marketing before moving to Nielsen in 2001 with roles in New York and London. Currently, he leads the Industry Solutions team that works with Nielsen Online’s advertiser clients, as well as heading up the client service, research, and consulting aspects for Nielsen’s Consumer Generated Media (CGM) measurement service, BuzzMetrics.

With a focus on customized research, CGM, and audience and advertising measurement, Brad has worked with some of the largest and most progressive companies in the US and EMEA, and he is constantly developing how Nielsen’s metrics can work within the social media landscape.

And he’s a very social guy himself, regularly speaking at conferences and events for organizations like the IAB  and Ad Tech about harnessing and measuring social media as well as other areas of digital measurement. Alongside his central role in WOM UK, he’s member of the Social Media Council at the IAB.

You can read an article by Brad on consumer generated media here and follow him on Twitter here. If you want to have a chat in person, come along to our WOM Thought Leader event on November 18th or Espresso Briefing on November 24th. He’ll be the very friendly American with very blond hair.

November Espresso Briefing: Face show you how to use real-time WOM for adaptive brand planning

November 6, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Posted in Events | 2 Comments
Tags: social media, word of mouth, espresso briefing, face, andrew needham, francisco d'orazio, brand planning

Brands are increasingly realising the importance of integrating word of mouth into everything they do. They get that it’s essential for nurturing consumer relationships. They understand that referrals are key to ROI. They’ve heard exciting examples of companies who’ve built their success on conversational strategies. But how on earth do they fit WOM into their existing marketing mix?

On 8.30am, Tuesday 24th November, insight and innovations agency Face will present on ‘Monitoring and analysing WOM in real time to enable adaptive brand planning’.

faceCEO and Founding Partner Andrew Needham, and Head of Social Media and Planning Francisco D’Orazio, will look at how to:

- Measure and monitor online conversations about brands to assess brand influence and brand visibility
- Apply qualitative analysis to determine research parameters and add meaning to quantitative findings
- Identify conversation hubs and influencers across a wide range of channels
- Use crowdsourcing and co-creation methodologies to achieve research, innovation and planning objectives
- Build iterative models for feeding real-time insights and consumer inputs into the existing marketing process

    As always, the briefing will be totally FREE and kick off with half an hour for coffee, breakfast and networking at 8.30am with the talk starting at 9am and questions and discussions afterwards until 10.30am, all at Face’s offices,7-8 Midford Place, London, W1T 5BG. Last month’s presentation from Matt Morrison was a big hit so be sure to register for this one now via [email protected] – members get priority booking.

    ‘Criteria of a successful rumor’: the original unethical WOM

    November 4, 2009 at 11:41 am | Posted in Ethics | Leave a Comment
    Tags: american intelligence, spreading rumours, word of mouth ethics

    Could these be the original mind-spammers? An entirely unethical but utterly addictive 1943 American Intelligence document has come to light which outlines key strategies in spreading a rumour successfully.


    Yes, yes, of course we disapprove – it’s based around forcing pre-crafted content onto an unsuspecting audience – but it still contains some gems of wisdom that relate to our collaborative and consumer-driven approach today. For example, there’s an acknowledgement that content must be plausible, simple, relevant and vivid; a demand that content must be suited to the channel; and a requirement that content is developed based on ‘intelligence on what kinds of information [communities] are eager for.’ Unfortunately, to these ‘operators in the rumor field’ it doesn’t matter a jot if any of it is true – a belief sadly shared by some propaganda-driven companies still trying to muscle into the space.

    However, there’s no question that these guys believed in the power of WOM as a medium for changing both emotions and behaviour. Although their methods were seriously questionable, some elements of human psychology, the mechanics of influence and community action that they describe are undeniably interesting. Have a read.

    via Second Brain.

    What are your burning issues in word of mouth marketing?

    November 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Posted in News | Leave a Comment
    Tags: education, Ethics, Events, roi, WOM, womma, word of mouth marketing

    Ethics. Metrics. ROI. Ownership. Internal education.

    These are the big five topics we hear raised again and again when it comes to the word of mouth industry in the UK. Brands big and small really are accepting the value and power of WOM as part of their future survival, but they’re still struggling to a) do it authentically and ethically, rather than as a short-term reactive activity, and b) get buy-in, integration and ownership throughout the company.

    question via dullhunk @ Flickr

    When many social media conferences and meet-ups are little more than glorified geek-outs about cool tools and insider networks, we’re committed to creating safe spaces where people can share their real challenges, fears, hopes and ideas about effective word of mouth – from questioning the Guardian’s latest influencer research to examining when WOM doesn’t work.

    We’re looking forward to finding out what the hot WOM potatoes are in the US at WOMMA’s Summit in Vegas a couple of weeks, but it will be interesting to see if they differ from our key concerns here. So let us know: what are your big issues around the industry? What questions would you like to see broached at debates and events? What topics can’t you find sufficient education, research or case studies on? What are you afraid of? Which great people and projects deserve more airspace?

    Drop us a comment below or, if it feels a little exposed, get in touch privately, and let’s start directing the WOM agenda in a truly collaborative way.

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