How do you make a product truly contagious?

July 26, 2010 at 10:26 am | Posted in Events | Leave a Comment
Tags: social media, word of mouth, emanuel rosen, WOM, consumer psychology, contagious products

This was the question tackled by Emanuel Rosen in WOM UK’s word of mouth thought leadership event on Monday evening.  Fuelled by cheap red wine and challenger thinking, the assembled WOM UK members and members-to-be (hah!) enjoyed a fantastic hour-long presentation which saw the renowned author of The Anatomy of Buzz use case studies and psychological and sociological research to examine what makes a product a word of mouth winner.

Using the deck below, Emanuel considered both the characteristics which make a product inherently conversational, and the external factors which act to accelerate buzz. As he pointed out, it is essential to consider both – we’re not all trying to sell sexy technology or feel-good charity causes, so we need to deconstruct both product and process to give even the most outwardly uninspiring offering real relevance and traction to vocal consumers. And as brands such as In n’ Out burger to Livestrong demonstrate, it is important to find fresh and collaborative, creative ways to encourage interaction in markets crowded with short-term hype.

The questions afterwards reflected a desire to isolate the different factors leading to success, and to understand what happens without a concerted effort to accelerate WOM.  Emanuel emphasised that the early stages of a product’s conversational life are key – those that get buzz, get more buzz – but that a focus on giving consumers ways to be creative themselves with the brand will also ensure longevity of WOM.

Emanuel’s working on his third book with Stanford Professor of Consumer Psychology Itamar Simonson, so we look forward to welcoming him back as their ideas and findings unfold.

We’re taking a break over August (and working on our new website) but remember to save the date for our next WOM UK event on 8th September 6pm, when Dr Paul Marsden of Viralculture will be talking digital ethnography and more.

WOM and the law: “These days, everything you do will come under scrutiny”

July 13, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Ethics, Events | Leave a Comment
Tags: Ethics, law, ReACTS, reed smith, social media, WOM, word of mouth

Our new partnership with Reed Smith’s advertising compliance team ReACTS – which brings WOM UK members free legal advice on their social media and word of mouth activity – kicked off in fiery style last week with our breakfast event around WOM and the law.

This was obviously a topic that hit home for the marketers, brand owners and agencies in the room (who remained valiantly undistracted by the incredible view from Broadgate Tower…)

Marina Palomba and Chris Hackford provided an excellent overview of the main issues in the space, and a welcome wake-up call around key areas that are likely to prove increasingly contentious, as  interest in legislating word of mouth activity grows. One example is the proposed extended remit of the CAP Code, which is struggling to gain traction but backed by strong intent.

There were questions throughout and a sense that everyone was starting to realise how little they know about the legal playing field regarding consumer engagement, UGC, transparency, privacy, promotions, moderation, copyright and more. The deck from the event below is a must-read for anyone working in the space.

Marina’s case studies of companies caught out – WalMart, American Express, Sony, TalkSport – proved the importance of sharing legal knowledge throughout a business, and indeed the importance of establishing a strong internal ethical code to protect employees against misguided activity.

It’s a philosophy obviously close to our heart; anyone can access the WOMMA Ethical Code that we and our members subscribe to, or Tempero’s UGC and the Law whitepaper we helped build. Members can also access the WOMMA Ethics Toolkit, which defines best practices and baseline rules, and asks 20 questions to help you ethically comply.

Here at WOM UK we’re also looking at becoming closely involved in the legal debates and motions around this space, with the help of the brilliant ReACTS team, so we’ll keep you posted on any developments. And do let us know – what are your big legal concerns? We’ll use them to shape our next session with the team…

Reevoo prove that independent consumer reviews drive sales

May 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Posted in Events, Measurement | Leave a Comment
Tags: social media, word of mouth, roi, reevoo, consumer reviews, sales

Yesterday’s WOM UK espresso briefing got to the heart of what every brand and marketer wants to know: can word of mouth really drive cold, hard cash?

According to founder and CEO of independent consumer site Reevoo, Dr Richard Anson, the answer is most definitely yes. With the wealth of data from Reevoo itself and their many partnering brands and retailers (such as Kodak, Sharp, Sony, Dixons, Tesco Direct and many more), Richard was able to demonstrate direct links between reviews and sales, as he explained how Reevoo leveraged trust, transparency and impartiality for business benefit.

Richard also shared the insight that Reevoo users seem theoretically willing to share their email addresses with others wanting to talk to them further – a surprising finding considering the prickly debates around online privacy – and that retailers are actually using the reviews to change their activity – reassuring proof that they’re treating word of mouth as more than a lip-service dialogue.

Check out his deck and let us know your thoughts; the packed audience of WOM UK members was certainly full of questions.  One interesting issue raised was whether one damning review could negate a torrent of positive ones; Richard promised to try and do some clever reverse-engineering of his data to see if he could track a trend. There was also a discussion around how to integrate peer-to-peer reviews offline, with suggested tactics including generating them at point of sale via receipts, and photographing barcodes or products themselves to access user generated metadata.

It was great to see the conversation around word of mouth move from the why (which Richard had amply proved) to the how, and there was a sense that this was the tip of the iceberg in proving WOM ROI.

Want more? Be sure to book now for our next event with Mark Earls, author of HERD, on 10th June.

WOM UK June event: Author of HERD Mark Earls examines how influence really works

May 24, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Posted in Events | 1 Comment
Tags: herd, influence, mark earls, recommendation, social media, social media event

Our next Thought Leadership session is truly not to be missed. Renowned author and speaker Mark Earls is coming to WOM UK for a presentation and networking evening on Thursday 10th June, 5.30-8.30pm at Porter Novelli, 31 St Petersburgh Place, London, W2 4LA. Attendance is free so email [email protected] now to secure your place early.

In “Push or Pull? Influencer or Influenced? What does social learning tell us about how influence and recommendation really work?”, Mark Earls will ask what if…

What if behaviours, ideas and emotions spread through populations not so much through what folk say or do to each other but by what they take and learn from each other? How would that change the way we think about WoM? Mark Earls explores the science behind social learning – Homo sapiens’ key learning strategy – to nudge us towards a new way of thinking about influence and word of mouth.

Mark Earls is a recovering account planner whose HERD consulting is at the forefront of understanding and applying leading edge behavioural and cognitive science to help marketeers understand and shape human behaviour more effectively. Previously, Mark worked in agencies radical (St Luke’s) and just plain big (Ogilvy Worldwide) but is much better now (thank you). His writing is widely read and debated – he has won prizes from ESOMAR, MRS and two of his articles have been deemed among the top 50 Management Science pieces published anywhere in the world. His latest book (HERD) explores human behaviour through the lens of what science tells us about our fundamentally social nature.

Kindly sponsored by:

May Espresso Briefing: Richard Anson of Reevoo discusses the value of independent consumer reviews

May 17, 2010 at 11:28 am | Posted in Events | Leave a Comment
Tags: social media, word of mouth, event, reevoo, consumer reviews

Our next Espresso Briefing session is on Thursday 27th May from 8.30-10.30am, at Golin Harris, Fox Court, 14 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8WS. That’s only a couple of weeks away, and it’s booking up fast, so if you haven’t registered yet, email [email protected] asap – and don’t forget, it’s free to everyone.

Why should you come along? Well, Dr Richard Anson, Founder and CEO of Reevoo, the website that collates independent, impartial reviews on a range of products, will be speaking on a topic that’s relevant to every brand and marketer today: “The Value of Independent Consumer Reviews to Brands”.

Using case studies, Richard will cover:

  • Why brands are choosing to use independent consumer reviews
  • The costs, benefits, and perceived risks related to consumer reviews
  • How independent consumer reviews form the cornerstone of a social media strategy
  • Using reviews in a multi-channel world
  • What the future holds

Richard is passionate about the power of real-world reviews. Prior to founding Reevoo, he was a senior strategy consultant at KPMG covering the technology space, was previously interim Head of Group Planning at Orange, covering 22 countries, and was on the small deals team managing investments of up to £5 million at 3i. He has a PhD and MBA from the Cranfield School of Management.

Breakfast will be laid on with networking from 8.30-9, presentation from 9-10 and discussion from 10-10.30am. As always with WOM UK events, come prepared to contribute your own questions and views!

Thanks to Golin Harris and The Royal Mail for sponsoring this event.

“Word of mouth agencies and clients need to start talking money”

April 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Posted in Events, Measurement, Research | 1 Comment
Tags: barak libai, CRM, Measurement, roi, social media, social networks, WOM, word of mouth

This week, Professor Barak Libai gave WOM UK members a glimpse into the future of WOM measurement and ROI as he presented his latest research and thinking on the value of consumer conversation.

We were delighted that Professor Libai, Marketing Professor at Recanati Graduate School of Business, Tel Aviv University, and award-winning researcher on the economics of WOM, narrowly escaped ashgate to present to the brands, agencies, fellow academics and students who piled into Grey’s London offices.

He began with establishing the importance of CRM in the past 20 years, and the need to start seeing the value of WOM in CRM terms, focusing on both customer lifetime value (CLV) and social value, and the lifetime and social values of people’s wider networks.

While Professor Libai admitted that there are still big holes in our knowledge of exactly how value creation is achieved through WOM – “we don’t necessarily know how, but we know that before and after, something happened that led to sales” – he also emphasised that the volume of data we now have access to is enormous, and is leading to a revolution in quantifying individual and social contributions.

His own work in simulating social networks to investigate how and why brands WOM spreads, using models from biology and anthropology, prompted questions from a crowd eager to know how accurate these trials could be, and how soon we might see more scientific approaches to measurement.

Professor Libai’s own international perspective also led to a discussion about rates of uptake in different countries, and the session ended with a quick delve into the tricky area of measuring offline WOM before everyone got stuck into the free wine and some relaxed networking.

With Dr Robert East in the audience bringing his perspective to bear on the research, and a real variety of attendees, this was the sort of event we love – challenging, thoughtful and with a real community feel. Big thanks to sponsors Royal Mail and Grey.

Next up, on the 27th May, Richard Anson, Founder and CEO of Reevoo, talks about the value for brands of independent review sites online – make sure you pre-register now.

Social media disclosure: best practice

April 20, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Posted in Case studies, Ethics | 2 Comments
Tags: social media, word of mouth, womma, Ethics, ftc guidelines, best practice

Ethics are one of the four pillars of WOM UK. Best practice in terms of listening and engagement is a big issue in word of mouth, where legislation is lagging behind activity, and the lines are often blurred between brand and consumer spaces.

We help both practitioners and clients keep on top of the latest ethical standards and case studies via our blog posts and events but members also get access to the WOMMA ethics assessment tool and case study library, as well as the collective knowledge and guidance our own WOM UK Council.

WOMMA’s latest contribution is this deck, essential reading for anyone looking to understand the landscape in the US, which is of huge relevance to our industry here.

Do you think we’ll move towards some FTC-style guidelines? What are the different challenges our side of the pond? Post your thoughts and comments below and do think about joining WOM UK if you’d like much, much more where this came from.

WOM UK April Thought Leadership event: Professor Barak Libai on ‘Assessing the value of customers’ word of mouth’

April 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Events, Measurement, Research, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
Tags: barak libai, event, Measurement, Research, roi, social media, WOM

Book now for the first of our great free spring events on Tuesday 27th April, which brings renowned WOM researcher and speaker Professor Barak Libai all the way from Tel Aviv to London to give his latest insights to WOM UK.

The event is being held at Grey, The Johnson Building, 77 Hatton Garden, London EC1N 8JS from 4.30pm, with the presentation at 5-6 and relaxed discussion, drinks and networking extending until 8pm. It’s essential to pre-register with Julian to reserve your place (WOM UK members get priority).

Assessing the ROI that results from customers’ word of mouth is a key challenge many marketers face today, especially given the plethora of word of mouth programs and social media investments by firms. However, most measures used are simplistic and do not necessarily capture the complex way in which social interactions turn into monetary gains. In ‘Assessing the value of customers’ word of mouth’, Prof. Libai will present the basic approaches to value customers’ word of mouth, highlight some major limitations, and discuss new approaches for understanding the “social value” of customers.

Professor Barak Libai , currently on the marketing faculty of  the Recanati Graduate School of Business, Tel Aviv University, was also Visiting Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management from 2006-2008, and has a Ph.D. in Marketing from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Prof. Libai’s research deals with the economic value of customers’ word of mouth, and relevant questions he examines include how different is customer  lifetime value when word of mouth is taken into account; what is the ROI of word of mouth programs; and how advertising effectiveness measurement should take social effects into account.  His research on the economic consequences of customers’ word of mouth has won prizes from The Marketing Science Institute, The American Marketing Association, the International Journal of Research in Marketing, Journal of Service Research, and ESOMAR.

This is bound to be a lively evening of thought leadership and networking, and we look forward to seeing you over a few beers. Big nod to Grey and Royal Mail for generously sponsoring the event.

Your chance to host a WOMMA webinar

March 31, 2010 at 10:44 am | Posted in News | Leave a Comment
Tags: social media, webinar, womma, word of mouth

WOM UK members are being offered a fantastic opportunity to host an international webinar to members and friends of WOMMA, our US counterpart.

WOMMA’s webinars are renowned for being practical and to the point, helping brands and marketers to understand the issues and challenges around WOM and social media from some of the world’s top practitioners. Recent speakers include Steve Rappaport, ARF Knowledge Solutions Director on ‘A Crash Course in Listening’ and Waggener Edstrom’s Editor in Chief, David Patto, on ‘The News Engine That Powers Your Social Media.’

WOMMA are looking for more international perspectives, so if you think you have something to contribute to the cross-Atlantic WOM community, email Julian with your details and an overview of what you’d like to cover. Paid up WOM UK members only please.

Like Minds: Let a thousand flowers bloom

March 29, 2010 at 10:42 am | Posted in Case studies, Events | 5 Comments
Tags: social media, word of mouth, drew ellis, scott gould, like minds, reach, spread

Clay Shirky’s famous description of how to survive in social media was aptly used by Scott Gould last Thursday as he explained Why Spreadability Beats Reach at the latest espresso briefing for WOM UK.

In a relaxed, interactive session over coffee and pastries, Scott shared exactly how he and fellow Like Minds founder Drew Ellis managed to create an enormously successful event – and a burgeoning network of top social practitioners – from scratch, in six months. Here he is, captured by one of our attendees, Lucy from Contagious:

By adopting an approach of strong leadership (including vision, passion and meaning) teamed with a purposeful abdication of control over how and where the Like Minds brand, content and conversations spread, Scott demonstrated the power of an approach based on guidance rather than governance, and personal relationship rather than public relations.

Scott used the case study of X-Factor versus Rage Against the Machine to demonstrate that reach doesn’t necessarily achieve the best results. He also emphasised the importance of working in teams rather than factories, showing that being adaptive, flexible and personal brings results as well as good will. Check out his deck below.

Any brand or marketer would love to achieve what Like Minds has in the past half year, so insights were relevant and inspiring. WOM UK is delighted to be part of the LM movement and the fact that we were thrown out of our venue for talking so long after the presentation is a pretty good indication of the quality conversation stimulated by the morning’s ideas.

The widespread agreement that diversity and eclecticism is the lifeblood of social media sent the gathered crowd out into the day with a renewed commitment to making more flowers bloom.

Many thanks to Porter Novelli for hosting.

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