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Word-of-Mouth Goes Holistic

One of the big takeaways from this week’s School of WOM conference, according to Rod Brooks, president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and VP and CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company, is how communications pros are now approaching the whole word-of-mouth topic.

“They’re moving their vision away from the tool set and the importance they feel from being on Facebook, Twitter, or on they’re own blogs,” Brooks said. “They’re starting to look at it more holistically.”

The conference took place in Chicago, where more than 300 attendees gathered (60 percent from agencies and service providers, 35 percent from the brand or company side, and five percent from nonprofits)  to talk about all areas of word-of-mouth marketing.  Digital and technology were of course a big topic, with mobile a particular area of interest for people.

According to Brooks, a keynote speaker at the event, Jack Philbin, vice chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association said 45 percent of iPhone use is voice while 40 percent of tweets come from mobile devices.

Still, it’s the old-fashioned face-to-face interactions that are still most common, according to Brooks.

“Even though all the buzz is about new and emerging tools, the greatest majority of all word-of-mouth happens offline in face-to-face environments,” he said, whether that’s at a conference or the dining table. Moreover, the in-person interaction “that isn’t manufactured” was of particular interest.

With all of the time constraints and devices at our disposal, it’s incredible that we have time for a lot of face-to-face contact. For all the activity happening on social media, Brian Solis, one of the conference’s keynote speakers, reminded audiences that there is an “audience of audiences” out there. And Facebook’s Paul Adams reminded attendees that while people keep their networks small, a message’s reach is really determined by pass-along, which can climb into the thousands when you take all of those networks into account.

“There was a focus on the importance of knowing the customer and bringing relevant content that they’ll want to share,” Brooks said.

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