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…

“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.

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.

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

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: dr robert east, Measurement, net promoter score, social media, WOM, word of mouth

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.

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.

Blog at WordPress.com. | Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds.