Thursday, March 22, 2007

From Superman to Super Talk

Today I'm in Las Vegas at the Bally's Hotel and Casino for the "From Superman to Super Talk" conference hosted by Icosystem, an innovative company based in Cambridge, MA. This day-long conference is poised to advance the art and science of WOM marketing measurement and modeling, especially through the use of complexity science to model complex human processes like consumer behavior.

After some opening remarks by Paolo Gaudiano, Chief Technology Officer at Icosystem, I lead off a series of presentations. My talk is entitled "State-of-the-Art Research Efforts in Word-of-Mouth". I'll be talking about three main topics: 1) how WOM and social media are being tracked and measured, 2) how to measure conversational reach and outcomes from WOM marketing programs (I'll be providing a sneak peek at some research from one of my latest projects -- stay tuned for more), and 3) the opportunities and limitations of using likelihood to recommend measures as an organizational discipline and to tie to key business outcomes.

I'm very excited to hear the other presenters as well. The CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of Icosystem, Eric Bonabeau, will be presenting, as well as folks from GSD&M Advertising, Humana, BzzAgent, and The Monitor Group. The final session is a panel discussion on existing solutions for WOM marketing, facilitated by Ken Nicholson, the former CEO of Veridiem. Definitely check out the agenda for details.


Monday, March 12, 2007

WOMBP: March 2007 Update

The latest version of the WOM Marketing Communication Bibliography Project (WOMBP) is now uploaded. You can access it at my download page.

Here's the background of the project and details of the contributors.

Below are new entries in this version (these aren't necessarily new studies, they just weren't included in the last update):

Barber, B. M., C. Heath, et al. (2003). "Good Reasons Sell: Reason-Based Choice Among Group and Individual Investors in the Stock Market." Management Science 49(12): 1636-1652.

Heath, C. and D. Heath (2006). "The curse of knowledge." Harvard Business Review 84(12): 20-23.

Heath, C. and D. Heath (2007). "Finding just enough of that sticky stuff (Book Excerpt)." Brandweek 48(1): 21-25.

Weiner, M. and D. Bartholomew (2006). "Dispelling the Myth of PR Multipliers and Other Inflationary Audience Measures." Institute for Public Relations.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

First WOMM Conference Turkey (& My Presentation Slides)

Kudos to the MediaCat team for hosting the First Word-of-Mouth Marketing Conference in Turkey. It was truly impressive. The conference was well organized and the meeting room was impressively designed and branded (per the picture above). The lobby outside was chock full of vendors, even with a booth giving away free cigarettes (very odd to see this being from the States).

The room was packed full, with some people standing in the back of the room (though later someone pointed out there were a few seats available so they could sit down). I don't have the final count but 400-500 were expected and given the room was full I would assume the numbers were somewhere in the range.

Representatives from a number of the major brands in Turkey were present and at various levels of the corporate food chain. There were also two invited bloggers chronicling the event -- I'll try to find links to their pages***. And, there were even a couple of PhD students who drove 7 1/2 hours just to see the presentations.

A PDF file of my slides are posted at my download page (after the registration screen navigate to "Presentations").

If this conference is any indication, Turkey is definitely ready for WOM!

Download My Presentation

*** Here are the links to the Turkish bloggers at the event: Alemsah Ozturk and Alper Akcan Here's their presentation. Thanks to Hilal Betin for providing these links!


Monday, March 05, 2007

Merhaba from Istanbul!

Hello from Istanbul, Turkey! I am here for the First Word of Mouth Marketing Conference in this country's rich history. The conference is taking place at the swanky Swissotel Istanbul European banks of the Bosphorus and hosted by MediaCat.

The conference starts tomorrow and will feature three speakers from the U.S. (Dave Balter, George Silverman, and myself) and then two people from Turkey (Dr. Yanki Yazgan and Renan Tavukcuoglu). My speech will focus on WOM measurement (the three key points will be social media analysis, tracking conversational reach and outcomes, and the pros and cons of using likelihood to recommend scores to measure advocacy and ROI). Speaker bios are here. The organizers are expecting 400-500 [[UPDATE: 500-600!]] people and it's received quite a bit of press coverage here.

For example, this morning (Monday) I was interviewed for a business show that airs on CNN Turk called "Business Lunch." I was asked to explain what WOM marketing was, how it can be measured, and what companies in Turkey need to know about it. I hope to get the video as it was my first live TV interview (the last TV interview I did was for the Chronicle and I had the opportunity to ask "Can we try that one more time?" -- live TV is much more of a rush).

Here's what I have learned about WOM and social media in Turkey thus far, mainly from a representative from the UnitePR agency who made arrangements for the CNN interview:

- Traditional hotbeds of word-of-mouth activity are the marketplaces, such as the grand bazaar, and across the streets from balcony (cumba) to the next.

- Turkish people pride themselves on their rich historical traditions of being passionate storytellers (think Homer and Herodotus).

- On the social media front, blogs are around though they seem to be used much for discussing news items and politics. WOM seems to be most amplified via e-mail chains and groups. (Spam apparently used to be a problem here but due to the companies responsible realizing it really wasn't that effective, and better filtering technology, it's not such a big deal anymore.) Apparently there are some discussion forums that are popular discussing the issues of moms and kids. There don't seem to be any firms currently analyzing social media in Turkey now, at least to my knowledge (Nathan Gilliat hasn't identified any here yet). But I think it's only a matter of time.

- Rumors about certain companies seem to be especially prevalent, and most often spread through e-mail chains.
I hope to learn more especially from the Dr. Yazgan and Ms. Tavukcuoglu. Looking forward to tomorrow!