A few weeks ago, EBN readers began a lively discussion on word-of-network, or WON, a term coined by the Harris polling organization. (See: How Would You Use WON?)
Based on the same concept as word-of-mouth, WON is a way to measure brand performance based on feedback from social media sites.
One of the most frequently asked questions about social media is how organizations can distinguish a very loud but satisfied (or dissatisfied) customer from the prevailing opinion. Jeni Lee Chapman, executive vice president of brand and communications consulting at Harris Interactive, spent a few minutes with EBN discussing WON.
"People talk about brands and services all the time, and social media is digitized talk," Chapman told us in a telephone interview. "So WON is another way to see what people are talking about."
She called WON a measure of attitude -- whether something has a positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. Panelists from a cross-section of a brand's targeted customer base agree to participate in Harris research. Harris then monitors thousands of digital conversations.
At a high level, Harris gauges things such as what people are talking about, where they are talking about it, and the general age group of the most active participants. Harris also uses analytics, one-on-one interviews, and other tools to drill down the sampling into more detail. This helps the brand owner figure out if one or two people are recording their attitudes over and over again, or if a sentiment is shared by a broad range of customers.
"WON allows us to understand whether 100 people are saying something a thousand times or whether thousands of people are saying it once," Chapman says.
In addition, Harris tracks where people are talking most frequently about brands and services. Something might be big on social media, Chapman says, but nonusers might not be aware of the buzz. Harris clients use this information to shape marketing campaigns, product development, and advertising spending. "It also helps them identify weaknesses and how their message is coming across. Are they creating positive buzz? Are people picking up on their key concepts?"
But most important for a brand, Chapman says, is the prevailing attitude -- how often something positive or negative is being said about it, or whether people are even talking about it at all.