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October 31, 2005

Measuring Word-of-Mouth

I’m surprised there has been virtually no chatter about Adweek’s feature story on Measuring Buzz. It’s probably because the article has been trapped deep inside Adweek’s guarded online gates. Consider the article hostage no more …


DOWNLOAD | Psst! How Do You Measure Buzz (pdf) | Adweek | 10.24.05
Adweek_cover_1

”Indeed, the rise of word-of-mouth and buzz marketing couldn’t come at a better time – or a worse one. On one hand, it offers marketers the chance to bypass increasingly spotty communication channels and avoid the middleman known as paid media in favor of one of the oldest and most effective forms of communication. On the other hand, it is enormously difficult to quantify return on investment from this most ephemeral of media. A whole cottage industry has sprung up around the demand for word-of-mouth measurement. But so far, not even the companies that are best at monitoring word-of-mouth feel they’ve cracked the code.”

That’s how Catharine Taylor, Adweek writer, sets up her story. From there she gives a quick run-down on the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) from its purpose/vision to the Association’s terminology framework (WOMUnits, episodes, etc). [Click here for a PDF of WOMMA’s Framework Terminology.] Taylor then touches upon the work from Intelliseek, BuzzMetrics, and BzzAgent.


However, the article never fully answers the question of how to measure word-of-mouth because that question has yet to sufficiently answered. WOMMA (of which Brand Autopsy is a member) and other groups are still working on figuring out the metrics issue.


While Brand Autopsy is a WOMMA member, I’m less concerned about solving the measurement issue. Instead, I believe the bigger issues facing marketers today have to do with the WOM message more than the WOM metrics.


The major reason why word-of-mouth hasn’t taken off is not because marketers lack the metrics to measure it. It’s because most products, services, and businesses simply aren’t worth talking about. Marketers should worry less about the metrics of “WOMUnits” and more about the message of the word-of-mouth activity. The more compelling and interesting the “WOMUnit,” the more people will talk about it.


Also marketers need to realize word-of-mouth is more than a marketing issue -- it’s a business issue. Marketers cannot simply sprinkle magical word-of-mouth marketing dust to create long-lasting word of mouth. For endearing and enduring word-of-mouth to happen, the activity must become part of the company’s culture. Sustainable word-of-mouth is much more a way of doing business every day than a component to a two-week heavy-up marketing blitz.


The Adweek article closes by quoting some smart thinking from Jim Poh, director of creative content at Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

”The more you measure it [word-of-mouth], the more you find ways to manufacture buzz. And manufactured buzz starts to feel like that.”


Well said Jim … well said.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Measuring Word-of-Mouth:

» Psst! How Do You Measure Buzz? from Word-of-Mouth Communication Study
A subscription is required to read the article though a PDF version can be downloaded at John Moore's Brand Autopsy blog). While you're there be sure to read John's commentary on the article. [Read More]

» Measuring buzz? from Johnnie Moore's Weblog
Wise words from johnmoore at Brand Autopsy:The major reason why word-of-mouth hasnt taken off is not because marketers lack the metrics to measure it. Its because most products, services, and businesses simply arent worth talking a... [Read More]

» Are You, Your Product or Your Company Worth Talking About? from 2 Percent Creativity - Marketing and Advertising Insights from a Connected Perspective
The major reason why word-of-mouth hasn't taken off is not because marketers lack the metrics to measure it. It's because most products, services, and businesses simply aren't worth talking about OUCH! The above quote from Brand Autopsy's post on Measu... [Read More]

» Are You, Your Product or Company Worth Talking About? from 2 Percent Creativity - Marketing and Advertising Insights from a Connected Perspective
The major reason why word-of-mouth hasn't taken off is not because marketers lack the metrics to measure it. It's because most products, services, and businesses simply aren't worth talking about. OUCH! The above quote from Brand Autopsy's post on Meas... [Read More]

» Word of Mouth, and Its Problems from ataridemocrat
If you dont read the advertising trades, youll be excused for missing the hype over Word of Mouth Advertising (though if you read ataridemocrat regularly youll know whats up). Essentially, were talking about a force ... [Read More]

» Dear Budget-Train Clue Rental from Crossroads Dispatches
As a blogger, I couldn't help noticing your new marketing campaign. But I write now as a customer, not as a blogger (nor even as a marketing consultant as any other customer would basically say the same stuff). I speak [Read More]

» You cant make people like you (or talk about you.) from Mary's Blog
Theres a lot of buzz amongst marketers about well buzz/WOM (Word of Mouth), and how to measure it. And, some companies are even selling marketing programs to artificially create buzz. Maybe Im getting cranky in my midd... [Read More]

» Great Word of Mouth Starts with a Great Experience from David V. Lorenzo
Brand Autopsy, Seth Godin and bunch of other blogs reminded us that you need to have a product worth talking about in order to generate some Word of Mouth. So what makes a product great? We’ve heard many different takes [Read More]

Comments

Your comment, "For endearing and enduring word-of-mouth to happen, the activity must become part of the company’s culture." is what we have been advocating as the central approach to a company's success.

Thanks for this article.

My friend Swami had an interesting post a while back on Coke's effort to measure WOM. It's an old approach, you can find it here: http://customerworld.typepad.com/swami_weblog/2005/10/whats_the_sales.html

Poh's comment is the key line in the article. We need to be sure our goal is effective word of mouth rather than just measurable word of mouth. Thanks for making this article available to us non-subscribers!

Amen.

Amen.

Amen.

Thanks for your post John and the article. One point of clarification... you write that "The more compelling and interesting marketers make the “WOMUnit,” the more people will talk about it."

Don't you mean the more compelling and interesting marketers make the brand experience, product, service, etc.? If marketers are making the "WOMUnit" -- the message that is shared between consumers/conversational participants -- then this goes against the principle of consumer-generated media, no?

great point Carl. thanks ... I'll ammend the post.

Just a quick note to say, "Thank you". This post triggered some valuable thought processes related to an issue I've been trying to unravel. Much appreciated.

You can change your marketing objectives and strategy (for example, using WOM versus traditional advertising channels), but the core marketing principles remain the same. If you don't have a solid product, good branding, and a compelling story - who cares? Regardless of method, you just won't gain much traction without these things in place.

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