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November 21st, 2007

Thoughts and Highlights of the WOMMA Research Symposium and Summit 2007

Last week I was at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Research Symposium and Summit 2007 in Las Vegas, which, in my mind, is one of the “must attend” yearly conferences. Along with Jake McKee, I was one of the official conference bloggers. Being a designated blogger is a very different experience that being a regular attendee or even a speaker, and having now worked in that capacity, I have a much deeper respect for what goes into such a seemingly easy task. Aside from the typical challenges of racing from one session to the next, making sure your computer battery doesn’t run out of juice when there is no available plug, being flexible with program and panelist changes, and writing without the luxury of reviewing and editing what you’ve written, there is the responsibility of trying to record the highlights of the covered sessions in such a way that readers are able to get value from what you’ve posted.

Without question, for me one of the highlights of the conference were the research and measurement sessions. Not necessarily because they were the most entertaining (I’d put the lunch keynote by Richard Tait, Grand Poo Bah of Cranium Inc., the keynote by Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking or the session “No Fans, No Band” in that category), but because they provided the oh-so-important hard data validating the effectiveness of word of mouth.

Between the Research Symposium and the Summit, there were over twenty sessions on research and measurement. Additionally, attendees received the excellent Measuring Word of Mouth: Current Thinking on Research and Measurement of Word of Mouth Marketing, WOMMA’s third annual research volume (available for purchase as well) that contains over twenty papers covering a wide range of topics with a particular emphasis on the influencer model.

What’s also useful within the research volume is the section on WOMMA terminology, which aims to “provide a unified framework for describing and measuring word of mouth marketing.” It provides definitions of word of mouth (“the act of a consumer creating and/or distributing marketing-relevant information to another consumer”), work of mouth marketing (“en effort by an organization to affect how consumers create and/or distribute marketing-relevant information to other consumers”) and WOM Episode (“a single occurrence of word of mouth communication, which includes Participants, Actions, WOMUnits, Venues, and Outcomes”), among other things. There is also an excellent visual summary of what happens during a WOM Episode, along with the associated qualities thereof — namely a participant taking an action on a WOMUnit in a particular venue that then results in an outcome.

(Cross-posted from New Millennium PR)

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