The granddaddy of all polls -- the Harris -- has come up with a new method for measuring brand recognition. It's called word-of-network (WON℠), as opposed to word-of-mouth (WOM), and it's a fascinating idea.
WON is WOM on steroids. According to a Harris Interactive press release, WON "offers quantitative categorization of comments about brands based on their positive, negative, or neutral sentiments. WON also controls for volume of conversation around a brand and provides clients with a means to predict brand performance. "
Harris is discussing WON in the context of holiday shopping. Shoppers are increasingly using social media to research products before hitting the stores. No surprise there. But Harris has figured out -- and I happen to agree -- that social media create as much misinformation as they do information. There's a lot of "noise."
For example, every few days a morning talk show will host some poor soul who has posted something on YouTube. There is invariably an outcry about the posting -- people weigh in on whether they think the video is "real" or not. The person who posted the video then goes on national television to explain what really happened in the video. If we're lucky, their 15 minutes of fame is over.
Harris says WON helps filter out the noise. They don't explain how, but they do explain the value of filtering. Any individual that's unhappy with a brand or product can post negative comments. It's not always clear that the experience is a one-time situation or a problem that repeats itself over and over. The Harris release quotes Jeni Lee Chapman, Executive VP, Brand and Communications Consulting at Harris Interactive:
"There is a practical advantage when your 'friends' are members of your panel. We can uncover a wealth of information about the commentators that is largely unavailable from traditional social media monitoring programs, which by their nature can only yield the most superficial information at best—and, at worst, present a distorted picture of what is happening in the real world. Our research indicates that a more comprehensive metric, like WON, can provide an early-warning signal of a brand's real time word-of-mouth."
Take this one step further and you have an application for WON in the supply chain. Take a set of buyers -- say, customers that order 10,000 Brand X DRAMs on a regular basis -- and measure their experience. Do they get what they order on time in the right quantity? Or did something go wrong? If so, where did it go wrong, and how can the company correct it?
The same data is currently compiled through customer surveys, which take a lot of time and effort. Instead of asking people to fill out surveys, the data on social networks is already out there. All you have to do is figure out how to filter it, and you've struck gold.
It's clearly not as simple as that, or Harris would tell us how it is done. But it's an intriguing idea, and I'd like to know if businesses are using similar methods in the supply chain. If so, is the information helpful? Does it aid in forecasting? Let us know.