Friday, July 9, 2010

1000heads: The Word of Mouth People: 10 amazing WOM thought leaders

This week, our 10th birthday celebrations focus on saying thank you to the industry: that eclectic global community of social innovators, word of mouth practitioners, consumer champions and just downright interesting human beings who push us all to think differently, and do better.

So we’ve decided to profile ten of the WOM thought leaders who have really inspired us as a company, and asked them:

How do you feel WOM has evolved in the past ten years?

These are a tiny selection from a vast number of people we love, but they’re a great start for anyone looking at WOM. So, in no particular order…

1. Emanuel Rosen
Emanuel wrote his bible of WOM, The Anatomy of Buzz, back in 2000 to international acclaim, and we love his down to earth, challenging style. His emphasis on offline as well as online triggers and the accessibility of his explanations and case studies make him a must-read. In fact, come listen; he’s speaking at WOM UK in a couple of weeks.

“As consumers, we not only have more opportunities to hear and read what our friends have to say, but also to observe what they do. This will become even more important in the future. Marketers can no longer ignore word of mouth because so much of it is visible online (although most of it still happens offline).”

2. John Bell
We first met John, Managing Director of Ogilvy’s 360° Digital Influence team, as President of WOMMA. We were quickly impressed with his ability to link WOM to the realities of business, talking about how companies can harness this brave new world in a way that practically works with their processes and capabilities.

“While any communications expert will quickly acknowledge that “word of mouth” – peer recommendations of one sort or another – has been around since the dawn of man & woman, the power of WOM to build or level brands has been amplified exponentially by digital communications over the past ten years. Ask any true social media expert with experience why marketers are so fascinated by the strength and potential to use social media and the answer is always “to activate word of mouth.” Simply put, word of mouth marketing is the answer why any brand would want to use social media at all.

Looking forward? Big brands will launch large, multi-million-dollar marketing programs this year with word of mouth marketing firmly at the center. Their purpose will be to authentically activate word of mouth towards the goal of selling product and sustaining the health of their brand.”

3. Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore
Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore made a huge splash in 1999 with their fantastically original book ‘The Experience Economy’ and now ‘Authenticity: What Consumers Want’ brings us fresh perspective yet again. Packed full of case studies and practical models, it gives a fresh perspective on thinking how to connect with consumers in broad and deep ways - by thinking about how they want to feel. A must-read.

“There are two huge changes in word-of-mouth over the past decade. One, the recognition that the best way to create WOM is not through advertising and traditional marketing. Instead, more and more companies recognize that the experience IS the marketing — the best way to generate demand is through engaging experiences that generate word-of-mouth (and spend-of-wallet). Two, with authenticity becoming the new consumer sensibility, consumers increasingly purchase based on conformance to self-image; they will not spread the word on offerings that do not match their own identity.”

4. Joanne Jacobs
Unforgettable to anyone who has seen her present, consultant and educator Jo has unerring ability to cut through the crap and challenge assumptions, always finding the human perspective in any discussion about technology and tools. She believes in people, and it shows.

“This was, and continues to be, the revolution in marketing. Ironically, it’s the embodiment of the original emergence of marketing as a discipline - effective communication of authentic information about products, be these goods or services.

WOM is a shift in the way marketers and business generally need to engage the socially connected citizen.

The past decade has seen the rise of opportunities for mass adoption of platforms for social communication, and WOM as a subset of those social connections. It has seen the emergence of rich media capture - images, sound and video - via mobile devices, and the opportunity to publish and share these media at the touch of a button. But most of all, it has seen a shift in power over the reputation of brands from the domain of marketers to the experience of user/consumers. WOM hasn’t just been the instrument of that change; it has been the weapon of user/consumers against marketing spin. For me, this is such an exciting development. The rise in the power of the user/consumer, not just as an informed citizen, but also as a producer of content and resources, is partly a realisation of a long-promised global village. And at the end the past decade of social media development, I see ahead an even richer landscape of user-led advocacy and filters for timely, geolocated and compelling information and experiences. But understanding WOM is going to be utterly crucial to competitive advantage in that environment. And firms that fail to engage in the age and stage of WOM will soon find themselves shunned.”

5. Barak Libai
Barak is Marketing Professor at Recanati Graduate School of Business, Tel Aviv University, and an award-winning researcher on the economics of WOM, and his multi-discipline approach looks at WOM from every angle possible. Using biological models to simulate social networks, and harnessing vast data pools, Barak is helming the development of WOM ROI and social CRM.

6. Chris Brogan
President and founder of New Marketing Labs, Chris Brogan’s work is a must read for anyone trying to find their way in WOM, Social and New Media. Author of two books, Trust Agents and Social Media 101, Chris is constantly looking for new ways to humanise business communications through improving what he calls ‘The Guest Experience‘. Add him to your RSS.

7. Scott Gould
We first heard about Scott through a chance meeting with his Like Minds co-founder Drew Ellis (at the Finnish Ambassadorial Residence no less!). Since then he (and his cohorts) have wowed us with their Like Minded thinking, their ambition and their vision; to educate, discover and ultimately give something back through social learning, media and charity. Like Minds is a great event. You should go.

“Word of Mouth, as every marketeer knows, is the holy grail. And despite Social Media (digital word of mouth) growing exponentially, Word of Mouth still stands as the strongest - by far - way that ideas are shared and brands are recommended.

You’d think that every brand and organisation out there would be doing their upmost to generate word of mouth, but the understanding and relational ability that is required to create this is rare - not to mention the risk that many are just unwilling to take in creating campaigns and engagement that are so innovative.

What impresses me about 1000heads and their approach is not only the creativity, the deep relational building that is carried out every day, and their well executed plans, but their measurement and reporting on their activities. It isn’t all just fun and play - 1000heads *really* know what is going on and put most agencies to shame when it comes to measurement and analysis.

They are celebrating their tenth birthday, so as we watched them innovate through Web 1, Web 2 and now through Social Media, I’m confidently watching what they do next to see how I can learn from them, and follow.”

8. Darryl Ohrt
Brandflakes for Breakfast is one of our favourite blogs. It’s the official blog presence of Humongo, a Connecticut-based agency who specialise in creating digital wonderness (and then making it huge).

As you can tell, there’s a fair amount of synergy. Darryl is the curator of said blog is at the centre of all the news, ideas, design, branding and gossip that comes their way. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Every day, without fail, we find something inspiring in his Brandflakes. Be it awesome innovation, or just plain every day awesomes. If it’s a one-stop shop place for new thinking you’re after, Darryl is your man. He gives good quotes too.

9. Griffin Farley
We ask a lot of questions here at 1000heads; how do we do this offline? What’s the human story? How do we make it better, work harder? How do we create true opportunities to experience? It’s this last element that first got us thinking about Griffin Farley. Anjali Ramachandran from Made by Many wrote about Propagation Planning, one of Griffin’s ideals that really speaks to our hearts: “Plan not for the people that you reach, but the people that they reach”. Griffin is Strategy Director at BBH New York and we like his thinking. A lot.

“40 years ago account planning was developed to inspire consumer-centric creative. 10 years ago connection planning was developed to inspire better media engagement. Today propagation planning is being developed to think about a new target audience: those that hear or see your message through word of mouth. Word of Mouth builds credibility while Advertising builds mass awareness.” On Brands: “I’m excited for the day that brand managers are replaced by community managers. Brands that are not inherently social will not be trusted.” Griffin on innovation: “What I love about social media behavior is at some point people will complain about something. If you listen closely that complaint creates the most fertile ground for innovation when you fix the problem.”

10. Mark Earls
The Herdmeister, Mark Earls, is an anthropologist of the highest calibre. The power of herd thinking, the merit of social objects, the pointlessness of (marketing to) social networks and alike are all opinions that Mark willingly projects out into the industry and, in doing so, constantly un-picks and questions the traditional marketing and advertising practices that have kept the industry from moving forward for so long. For that, we salute you.

“From the moment we are born til the day we die, we are shaped by our interaction with others; for good or ill, we are made who we are by other people - happy or sad, intelligent or otherwise, rich or not. We seem designed specifically to interact with others - our bodies and our brains are those of the ultimate social primate, the Super Social Ape.

Social networks are not channels for advertisers or for the adverts/memes you, your clients or any of your so-called “influentials” create, social networks are for all of the people who participate in the network. “

That’s who we love, what about you? Who inspires you, and why? 1000heads: The Word of Mouth People

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