Social media self-regulation code proposed for the UK

March 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Posted in Ethics | 3 Comments
Tags: wom uk, social media advertising, AA, ASA, IAB UK, social media regulation, CAP code

As reported by IAB UK, “the advertising industry has come together to recommend an extension of the self-regulatory rules for non-broadcast media (known as the ‘CAP Code’)”.

The recommendation, driven by the Advertising Association (AA) suggests that the existing code, administered by the ASA, be extended from paid-for online space to cover advertisers’ own spaces as well as independent sites.

It’s a logical next move in the ‘ethics and transparency’ debate, and something that advertisers have long been calling out for. But it remains to be seen exactly what the code will cover, and how those regulations will be implemented, especially when entering the realm of independent consumer word of mouth.

It’s pretty clear that the code’s remit will cover blatant advertising and won’t try to tackle more subtle WOM engagement campaigns – but with the stated intention of ensuring that online all marketing activity will be ‘responsible, legal, honest and truthful’, there’s bound to be some grey areas and overlap.

For example, look at incentivisation by brands wanting to get people online to talk. Many people equate their activity in social media with chatting in the pub with friends, so any consciousness of their responsibilities to the code would require a big change in outlook. If you are handed free chocolate outside the tube, do you expect to have to tell your friends a disclaimer before raving about it in the office? Total brand transparency is essential in this space but peer to peer transparency is complex.

There are issues raised here that need thought and public discussion as much as rules, and we could certainly learn from some of the debate around the FTC Guidelines being instituted in the US.

What do you think? We’ll keep you updated as more details emerge…

What we can learn from Yelp’s WOM whitewashing debate

March 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Ethics | 1 Comment
Tags: Ethics, negative review, social media, the law, ugc, WOM, yelp

Coming hot on the heels of Tempero‘s eGuide UGC and the Law (which WOM UK contributed to and debated at the launch), the news that a veterinary practice in California is suing consumer review site Yelp for allegedly offering to hide a bad post for payment made us prick up our ears.

As reported by The Times, Greg Perrault of the Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital in Long Beach claims that he asked Yelp to take down a negative review posted 18 months before – outside the site’s 12-month relevancy guideline – and was in turn invited to advertise on the boards for $300 a year.

Of course, if this were true, it would represent some seriously unethical, as well as illegal, moderation of consumer conversation for financial gain. However, Yelp’s defence on their official blog is thorough and clear, and all the more believable because it emphasises the importance of trust for the company: people’s belief that the reviews they publish are legitimate and fairly regulated is what keeps businesses and punters invested in the site.

What we find particularly interesting is Dr Perrault’s failure to address the content of the negative post. He did not respond to the facts or fictions of that 18-month old moan, nor did he say that he was looking at how to improve the surgery’s service to prevent similar comments, or reach out to other customers in a more positive way.

Whatever the courts decide, this story reflects the panic that businesses feel when faced with negative conversation, and their inability to know how to handle it, apart from trying to get that often valuable WOM removed from the public domain.

If you want help in understanding how you can engage with disgruntled consumers in a rather more productive way – for them and for you – get in touch and we’ll introduce you to our raft of expert members and educational events touching on just these issues.

In the meantime, check out the eGuide to know where you stand legally in the UK with moderation of UGC.

View this document on Scribd

WOM case studies show the power of disruption

February 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Case studies, Events | Leave a Comment
Tags: Case studies, dominos, hugo boss, marmite, mcdonalds, social media, toyota, word of mouth

James Whatley‘s presentation for WOM UK yesterday morning had a distinct underlying theme – the effectiveness of disrupting consumers’ assumptions if you want to get them, and keep them, talking about your product or brand.

It was great to see so many new voices in the crowd as James, the Engagement Director for global word of mouth agency 1000heads, took us through six examples of conversational campaigns from Opera, Hugo Boss, Marmite, McDonalds, Toyota and Dominos, demonstrating how WOM worked best by using a mixture of on and offline engagement and technologies, combined with a strong dose of brand transparency and buy-in.

Many of the discussions focused on the blurring boundaries between WOM and the other advertising disciplines – some of the examples could well be considered as PR, experiential, DM or even traditional media broadcasting. James’ point was that none of these campaigns would have happened before our new emphasis on listening to consumers, and responding instantly and interactively with them in a way that generates sustained conversation and a shift in brand image, not just a short spike of buzz.

What are your favourite WOM case studies of the year so far and why?

Keep an eye out for our next espresso briefing and thanks to Golin Harris for hosting us so well.

Do you know the score with UGC and the law?

February 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Ethics, Events | 1 Comment
Tags: wom uk, tempero, ugc, social meida law, internet law, moderation

Companies used to carefully controlled brand imagery and tone of voice can find user generated content a very scary thing. Our discussions with companies, journalists and agencies have shown that there’s lots of confusion as to where the boundaries lie in terms of moderation, engagement and the legal rights around content created by people about and around a brand.

That’s why WOM UK is delighted to be contributing to ‘UGC and the Law’, a new eGuide produced by community experts Tempero:

“We believe our eGuide is the first time anyone’s pulled together the range of UK guidance out there on which laws might impact social media activity that involves brands hosting or submitting content to interactive environments into a handy little book format.

The guide is aimed at brands and public sector organizations about to start or already running their own sites (like forums, blog comments) or branded pages (like Facebook, YouTube), and includes quotes, anecdotes, and advice from some of our clients and contacts in the industry.”

President of WOM UK Molly Flatt has added her comments on the complexities of legislating free speech, and how the UK can learn from the debates around the FTC Guidelines recently released in the US. Molly will be attending the launch of the eGuide at the Tempero offices in central London tomorrow, Wednesday 23rd February, from 6.30pm, answering questions on the issue and debating with other speakers such as John Robinson from the NHS and Paul Wakely from the BBC.

If you’re interested in coming along book your place here.

WOM UK need your word of mouth case studies

February 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Case studies | Leave a Comment
Tags: wom uk, social media case studies, word of mouth case studies, australia, new zealand, uk

New Zealand based word of mouth agency The Village Square have asked us to help garner the best and latest case studies of UK WOM excellence – especially those that reflect true ‘consumer involvement’, whereby brands build a tribe of advocates who love to get invovled in experiences and create content on their behalf.

We’ve already sent them the likes of We Are Social for Marmite, iCrossing for Toyota, the Oxfam G20 Voice project and 1000heads for Nokia, but it would be great to crowdsource the favourites of the WOM UK network. Obviously, those submitted will get some great visibility abroad.

And in return, TVS have promised to send us the cream of the WOM crop from New Zealand and Australia, so members can look forward to receiving those links and downloads soon.

So, link to your own (or favourite) case studies below or send them to [email protected].

February Espresso Briefing: James Whatley presents The Best WOM Case Studies of 2010…so far

February 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Case studies, Events | Leave a Comment
Tags: wom uk, 1000heads, espresso briefing, social media case studies, james whatley, wom case studies

Fed up with all the theorising about word of mouth and want to really know who’s doing it well and how? Eager to see how WOM is already evolving for big businesses in 2010?

Well register now for our next Espresso Briefing on Wednesday 24th February at 8.30am, when James Whatley, Engagement Director for leading WOM agency 1000heads, will be looking at six of the best WOM Case Studies of 2010 so far.

As someone with a longstanding background in the WOM space both as a practitioner and a blogger brands have been eager to woo, James works with 1000heads clients such as Nokia, Canon and P&G to craft effective and impactful consumer engagement.

He says “We’re already six weeks into 2010 and although we were promised jetpacks, what we have been given instead is some outstanding examples of how to fully leverage WOM in a modern campaign strategy. Cross touch-point, cross company and cross passions.” In his presentation, he’ll consider:

  • What does true WOM success mean?
  • Six of the best case studies of the year
  • How WOM is evolving into the new decade and how brands can get involved

The event is FREE to both Members and Non-Members and will take place from 8.30am – 10.30am at GolinHarris, Fox Court, 14 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8WS, with plenty of time for breakfast, networking and conversation around the presentation itself. Pre-registration is essential, so please email [email protected] to secure your place.

This event is kindly sponsored by

Join WOM UK at Like Minds 2010

February 2, 2010 at 11:53 am | Posted in Events | Leave a Comment
Tags: wom uk, molly flatt, womma, like minds 2010, drew ellis, scott gould, john bell

WOM UK is by logistical necessity rather London-centric, so we’re delighted to be speaking – and listening – at the Like Minds 2010 conference in Exeter this month.

Taking place at the Exeter Conference Centre on Friday 26th Febraury, Like Minds is the brainchild of Scott Gould and Drew Ellis, who are determined to bring world-class thought leadership on the subject of ‘People to People: The New Social Business’ to everyone in a friendly, non-political and provocative way. There will be six keynote speakers, including John Bell, President of our sister organisation WOMMA, 18 panelists, including WOM UK President Molly Flatt, and 6 moderators to ensure that the sessions really are conversations.

This should be a rare opportunity to meet global experts, local leaders, and like-minded individuals from diverse walks of life, so book now if you’re interested – tickets are running out fast. And leave us a comment or a tweet if you’re coming and would like to hook up with Molly to talk about word of mouth, WOM UK, or indeed the joys of Exeter Cathedral.

Has Dr Robert East shown us the future of WOM measurement?

January 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Posted in Events, Measurement, Research | 2 Comments
Tags: social media, word of mouth, Measurement, WOM, net promoter score, dr robert east

Wednesday morning’s espresso briefing event certainly drew a big crowd – and a host of questions. It wasn’t surprising, as Dr Robert East’s presentation on the limitations and alternatives to the famous WOM measurement tool Net Promoter Score was provocative and persuasive in equal measure.

As Professor of Consumer Psychology at Kingston University, Dr East has long applied rigorous academic thinking to the contentious world of WOM metrics. He began by looking at the actual impact of positive and negative WOM for brands, something that NPS ignores. His research showed that measuring levels of sentiment is also more complex than it might initially seem, as detractors and promoters may not be as wholeheartedly glowing or derogatory as we assume.

He next moved on to look at the American Customer Satisfaction Index, another popular measure, and questioned the validity of ‘satisfaction’ as determined by the survey – highlighting such important points as the fact that satisfaction is proved to have little correlation with customer retention, and is only one of the causes of WOM.

By proposing a new methodology that takes into account these discrepancies and subtleties, Dr East showed that there could be a way of producing a much more reliable and effective measurement. This was very well received, and prompted a lively debate, with most of the questions circling the perennial problem of measuring essentially emotional and complex data quantitavely, and how to incorporate the differing value of different types of WOM. The issue of offline monitoring was also raised, with Dr East suggesting that examining individual industries and passion groups was the best starting point for gaining deeper insight. Check out the full presentation below.

What is certain is that this is an area that will be central to the growth and strength of the WOM industry in the next few years – and that an injection of funding is badly needed to investigate new systems large-scale. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for Dr East in securing further funding, leave a comment below or get in touch.

WOM UK collaborate with WOM Japan

January 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Posted in News | Leave a Comment
Tags: wom uk, word of mouth marketing, japan, japan social media, wom j

Word of mouth marketing is an industry which, thanks to social media, crosses geographical and cultural barriers regardless of the brand or agency. That’s why, alongside focusing on insight and education about the UK WOM scene, we keep a strong global outlook; as partners to WOMMA we have strong links with the US and invite thought leaders from across Europe and America to identify mutual discoveries, differences and trends.

Global Web Index‘s Global social web involvement map

So we were delighted to meet with two key members of WOM Japan this week (for those of you who can speak Japanese, this is their blog) – Meri Yasuda from innovative content creators Dai Nippon Printing Co and Shin’ichi Miyajima from the Digital Content Association of Japan. WOM J have also recently aligned themselves with WOMMA and it was a great opportunity to share stats, case studies and observations about which social platforms are driving conversation online, how offline and online WOM are merging, and which brands are the forerunners in effective WOM activity.

With particular points of interest being the rise of mobile and geo-location, and the shifting landscape of WOM ethics and legislation, it was clear that there is a great need for closer collaboration between global WOM communities. So let us know below if you have any particular queries or areas of interest for WOM J’s directors and members, as we hope to feature a presentation from WOM J here in London soon.

Exclusive download of WOMMA 09 Summit materials

January 14, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Posted in Case studies, Events, Measurement, Research | Leave a Comment
Tags: wom uk, womma, Research, social media case studies, word of mouth case studies

Last November’s Summit organised by our US partners WOMMA was one of the most exciting industry idea-sharing and -storming sessions of the year; a collision of brand case studies, new research and trends and academic debates that sparked some deep investigation into where word of mouth marketing currently stands.

WOM UK President Molly attended and posted an overview of what went on, but we’re delighted to announce that all WOM UK members can now download the decks presented by the keynote speakers, along with live videos from the general sessions,  from the WOMMA Member Center here.

All you need is your WOMMA library username and password, provided to every WOM UK member when they join. If you’ve lost track of yours, email Julian and he’ll send it over. And if you don’t have one? Well, joining WOM UK could be just the New Year’s resolution you need…

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