Word of Mouth: Breaking Through the Clutter



With more than 40 sessions and four keynotes in three days, word-of-mouth practitioners gathered from around the world at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Summit from November 18 – 20 in Nashville, Tennessee.

What was on everyone’s radar? It seems great minds do think alike as the following themes ran throughout the conference:


While 2013 might have been the year of content strategies and real-time marketing (think Oreo, Tide and others), all signs point to 2014 being the year of mobile. From listening to several presenters and chatter among attendees, mobile is on the minds of some of the top strategists in social.

Robin Riddle, Global Publisher of Wall Street Journal Custom Studios, wasn’t subtle about this fact when participating in a general session about digital strategy. The thrust: We all know mobile is important, but next year it will be taking a front seat.


Brands vs. Family vs. Friends vs. Brands

What do your family, friends and favorite brands all have in common on your favorite social network? “They are all fighting for your attention,” said Jay Baer, President of Convince and Convert, and author of Youtility, in his opening keynote.

“Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it,” he said, while speaking about brands helping people beyond their traditional customers to create lifetime relationships. Brands need to recognize that other businesses aren’t their only competitors in the social space. They are also fighting for visibility and trust among family and friends.

On the flip side, people are tired of being a customer; they want to be part of a brand’s family. Make sure to use the three types of conversations (functional, emotional and social) to connect with consumers on a more personal level. As Geno Church, WOM Inspiration Officer at Brains on Fire, said, “Start with people in your planning, not with those shiny objects known as social networks.”   


Interactive Content

As most practitioners talked about the value of compelling creative to drive engagement throughout the sessions, one unifying theme was the use of relevant visuals within a brand’s content strategy. For brands that might not have original assets (think retailers who receive the same content packages as their competitors), many are taking their visual content to the next level by making it interactive. Check out ThingLink or Stipple to learn more about interactive images.


To close the Summit, WOMMA announced that they are embarking (with partners) on a new word of mouth measurement initiative called, “The Value of WOM Study,” in an effort to address better measurement and perhaps a new marketing model for word of mouth in 2014. Brands interested in taking part in the study will enrich their results and benefit from their findings. The more brand data available, the more beneficial the study will be for all of us. Contact WOMMA to learn more.