Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
This morning I hosted a WOM UK Espresso Briefing where The Guardian’s commercial director Chris Pelekanou and ad planner Katherine Miall unveiled their new Word of Mouth database. By combining existing thinking around what makes people influential with their own piece of qual and quant research, they have developed a communications planning tool in the form of a database which allows companies and advertisers to understand the type of people they will want to target to ensure their content is rapidly and widely spread. Check out their presentation below.
It’s understandably oriented towards showing advertisers that Guardian readers are a particularly influential bunch, but Chris and Katherine hope that it will become integrated into media planning, helping advertisers to identify who will carry their message best.
There were two big questions raised by this for me. One was: but do these influential people trust advertisers – or each other? The model is based around pushing brand-created content, while social media is moving towards UGC. How keen are these socially savvy trendsetters to be seen pushing corporate messages? Chris’ intelligent response was that many influencers simply see brand content as one other piece of information – to be tested and repurposed, but to certainly form part of their melting pot of influences. It’s a good point, but there’s more work to be done investigating this, when so much research tells us of our increasing mistrust of advertising as consumers.
The other was: can they prove that this spread of content actually leads to action? These people are influential in repurposing and disseminating your message, but how influential are they in actually getting you a sale? Are there particular traits of character or behaviour that make their information make others act upon it?
You can see full details of their methods and findings here. It’ll be interesting to see how the model is adopted, and I’ll be keeping in contact with Chris and Katherine to see how it develops. We’ll keep you updated…