Sunday, April 11, 2010

Implementing Word of Mouth at UPENN

I had the opportunity to do a book reading and a presentation on word of mouth marketing at University of Pennsylvania. Having presented to business audiences at many conferences before, I am used to people checking blackberries, Tweeting, typing with purpose on their laptops. This time, audience focus was 100 percent on the screen. They listened. They took notes. It was very refreshing to present to such an engaged group.

The students, who were MBA or media studies students, asked really thoughtful questions. They wanted to understand how to measure buzz and how to predict what kind of start-up would be poised to take off. When I talked about networking agents who drive online word of mouth, one question kept coming up - how do you identify your own set of influencers? How do you know someone you're targeting is truly a powerful word of mouth agent online?

The dynamic Q&A session confirmed my initial belief when starting to write this book: We are no longer discussing the importance of social media, nor are we describing the changing communication landscape. The revolution happened. Now, the online word of mouth space is ripe for business. Developers around the world release hundreds of applications per day. The start up scene is replete with smart companies that are harnessing word of mouth data and helping consumers publish like professional creatives.

No matter what the next big thing is or whatever the social networking idea du jour may be, we still need to figure out the flow of information in influencer networks and find ways to bring brands into these conversations. Implementing Word of Mouth Marketing aims to do just that. The book helps readers - whether they are seasoned marketers or curious students seeking the next opportunity - how to formulate and carry out their own word of mouth marketing plans.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Opportunity is in Asia-Pacific

Trendstream, a research firm based in the UK, has published global trends on social media usage. The firm’s Global Web Index, based on 32,000 online interviews across 16 countries, shows that online marketers in the Asia Pacific region have tremendous opportunities as their audiences trust and engage with brands that communicate with them through social media.

As compared with the global average, consumers in the Asia Pacific region indicate that brand-driven communities, fan pages and blogs improve their opinions of that brand. They feel similarly if a brand takes note of their mentions and starts following them on a microblog (e.g., Twitter).

This trend may well be based in certain Asian populations’ positive attitudes towards technology and the Web, coupled with their preference for privacy. For instance, when asked about brand communication methods that improve their opinion of brands, Chinese and South Korean respondents are unlike anyone else. While in the US, Latin America, and in Europe, consumers are more likely to be impressed with face-to-face communications, Chinese and South Korean consumers prefer online recommendations from a contact or a friend.

The Global Web Index data have strong implications for programs that need to work across multiple countries. Marketers need to be attuned to the ways in which their audiences prefer to receive communications and make necessary adjustments in each local market. Brands that can decipher cultural attitudes towards information sources, knowledge and experience are bound to communicate more effectively and build global equity.