Thursday, July 14, 2005

Follow Up from the WOMMA Metrics Conference

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to participate on an excellent panel at the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association’s conference on measuring WOM. The panel was “Optimizing WOM: Which Words Work?” In a nutshell I argued that the sub-title of the panel was slightly misleading. It seemed to suggest that there’s this magic combination of words that will lead to a viral explosion in WOM if you just get the right words down. Perhaps, but not likely. My point was that the magic is not to be found in the words of marketers, but rather in the creation and sharing of everyday consumer conversations. And one way to gain insight into these everyday conversations is to study the following four factors: the relationship of the participants talking, the locations where the WOM episodes take place, the topics of talk surrounding the specific brand-related talk, and the activities done before, during, and after. Taken together, these make up some of the components of what I called the “conversational geography of WOM”.

For each element I referenced findings from a collaborative research project with BzzAgent, Inc.. For example the most frequent topics of talk surrounding WOM episodes included topics related to everyday life, such as family, special events (birthdays, weddings, etc.), “casual” talk, reviewing the day’s events, relationships, and gossip. After sharing some practical ways for organizations to take advantage of this information, I concluded with the following two take-home points: 1) marketers should pay attention to the relational and conversational context of WOM, and 2) understand how consumers make sense of their world in order to weave brand-related talk into the everyday conversations that are already going on. A copy of the slides should be available soon on the WOMMA website.

Following my presentation the other two panelists – Greg Wester of VoodooVox, Inc. and Dave Cadoff from FutureNow – spoke about the importance of the individual people involved in WOM. Greg had a fun, clever, and unique presentation in which he showed three concrete ways that marketers could facilitate consumer conversations by creating personalized, interactive online WOM campaigns. Greg created three fun superheroes to illustrate each of the communication processes he discussed: Tuning, Transmitting, and Magnetism. Be sure to check out the WOMMA website for slides to his presentation.

A podcast put together by Ben McConnell where he interviewed some of the presenters at the conference should appear early next week on the Customer Evangelist blog (Ben was gracious enough to invite me to be interviewed as part of the podcast). And an article about the conference appears on AdRants’ website.

Other presentations I enjoyed and would encourage people to check out include:

- Matt McGlinn's (Director of Research, BzzAgent, Inc.) ideas on what motivates WOM;

- Pete Blackshaw's (CMO, Intelliseek) talk about conversational text-mining and the release of BlogPulse, a free tool to analyze trends in the blogosphere;

- Karen Kraft's (Decision Analyst) presentation on using online focus group participants to track offline, organic WOM;

- Terry Pittman's (Executive Director, Digital Services Research, AOL) thoughts on what makes products worth talking about.

All the speakers contributed articles to the first volume on measuring WOM so you can also find more information about their ideas there.

Links to blogs, podcasts, and articles referencing my presentation:

- AdRants’ Article

- Customer Evangelist Podcast on "Measuring WOM" (release date July 22, 2005)

- Gary Stein's Blog (Jupiter Research analyst)


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