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What WON Can Tell You About Your Brand

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.

5 comments on “What WON Can Tell You About Your Brand

  1. Daniel
    January 4, 2012

    Almost all brands have their own presents in most of the social media networks and they used to collect feedbacks, customer satisfaction survey and related opinions through their account. But I don't know how many companies are taking in account of the customer voices in consideration.

  2. FLYINGSCOT
    January 4, 2012

    I had never heard of “WON” so thanks for sharing this blog with us.  It sounds like an interesting concept.  I wonder if it can also take into account the “fact” that people tend to comment on a product more if they are disatisfied with it.  I suppose people also comment if they are ecstatic about a product but this is probably less frequent.

  3. Jay_Bond
    January 4, 2012

    One of the big issues with these polls, just like any other poll, is the segment of the population and just how satisfied or dissatisfied the customers are. The polls can be misleading based on this data, especially if people are taking these polls via social media and are just following the popular consensus.

  4. Eldredge
    January 4, 2012

    It is interesting (and useful I think) that WON can differentiate between a few loud (frequent) voices and a larger base of opinion. Certainly, the input from a larger base would be more representative of the population, and represent more valid information.

  5. Anne
    January 12, 2012

    Word of Network seems to be a form of passing information from one person to another. Ideally, one person tells two people who tell two more people each.  It can open up huge marketing and business opportunities.

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