Last night I was delighted to return home and find a link in my email inbox to the 1000Heads list of Thought Leaders in Word of Mouth. I admit to being very chuffed indeed to making this list, and to being in the company of so many I admire and respect. But it matters all the more to me as the list was constructed by the market leaders on Word of Mouth in the UK. 1000Heads are doing some amazing things with WoM for Nokia, Sainsbury’s, 3, P&G and a bunch of other brands that collectively represent best practice in WoM. 1000Head’s own sentiment rating is a phenomenal 45:1 on socialmention.com. And 1000Heads stars, Molly Flatt and James Whatley are probably the most exciting young strategists and mobile communications professionals in the market today. So it was enormously gratifying to be honoured by the best in the business.
It’s also exciting to see WoM gaining coverage and authority as an area of expertise. It’s been a very long time coming for me, and I’m keen to see its development, as it is the most important aspect of a socially connected citzenry. It’s not just about getting products to market. WoM is the way we live; we are social creatures by default. And we develop trust through testing the legitimacy of what is communicated to us by our social contacts. Once trust is established, again it is WoM through which we discover business opportunities, recreational prospects, even recipe ideas. It is our language, and our desire to engage with one another, that allows us to plan, to learn and to appreciate each other.
So the development of technologies that facilitate social communication (and concomitant sophistication of consumers) can only mean the deconstruction of deception. For generations, marketers have used often ethically questionable techniques to hide problems, and to present organisations and personas only positively. With the rise of WoM, any issues with products or services can be identified and – where possible – corrected. And contrary to the perspective of many agents, this is a good thing, because a poor product or service isn’t something we should be concealing and protecting, just because its manufacturer is in business. It’s in all our interests to revert to WoM to provide feedback about everything from products to policies. And this helps citizens to inform themselves for decision-making, active citizenship and advocacy, ongoing support and even product development.
Yesterday, Forrester noted the findings of its research that while 83% of consumer product strategy professionals indicate that their company uses social media to engage with consumers in some way, “fewer than half of those indicate that their product teams are currently using social media to influence product design, creation, or strategy. But as @dickyadams reminded me, that means that nearly half of those strategy professionals were using social media. And I supposed I should see that for what it is – a fantastic testament to Word of Mouth as a vehicle for change. That trend is only going to grow. And I look forward to being part of it.
Thanks again to Molly, James and the 1000Heads team. I’m delighted to be one of your WoM Thought Leaders. And happy 10th birthday 🙂