All of the students in the class found his presentation extremely informative. His talk was called "Responding to Negative Buzz: The Whens, Wheres, and How Tos." As you can guess from the title he spoke about how to deal with negative WOM and provided some excellent suggestions about whether or not to respond to negative WOM in the blogosphere, how to respond (directly or indirectly), and the level of response required (for example, just in the blogosphere or beyond).
Among the most important points I took away was a clear set of criteria to decide if and how an organization should respond to negative buzz. For example, in order to determine whether or not you should respond a company should ask the following three questions:
1) How core is the issue to your brand, reputation, and business?
2) Is the post influential? (Jim provided various quantitative and qualitative ways to assess this).
3) Are comments defending you? How well are they making your case?
If the answer is yes to #1, yes to #2, and not very well to #3 then you definitely want to respond! Then he goes on to tell you how and where to communicate with detractors. He also discussed the importance of proactive outreach and engagement with key online influencers (including a special section on new rules when interacting with bloggers).
In addition to using numerous case studies from companies like Wal-Mart, FedEx, and Kryptonite, the students really enjoyed it when Jim spoke about his own experiences responding to negative buzz about Cymfony's Knowledge Center.
My favorite part though was when he talked about the future of WOM marketing. He actually gave a very seasoned assessment of the nascent industry and stated three things that could detract from the incredible growth of WOMM:
1) Marketers messing it up by employing stealth tactics (he also reviewed WOMMA's ROI Ethics Code).It was clear that Jim took great care and thought in preparing this talk for my class and it was definitely appreciated by us all. It was also a preview of some new ideas that I didn't mention here because they won't be publicly released until June 19th, so stay tuned for that!
2) Marketers' tendency to focus on where the money is (so if a lot of money is being spent on a big ad buy then that's where the attention is and not on the important communication, listening, and relationship-building aspects of the marketers' role);
3) Viewing blogs as just another channel for traditional "push" and "control" approaches to marketing.
Jim's undergraduate major was geology and he attended Williams College in Western MA. Although you wouldn't know it by looking at him he graduated in 1978, 7-8 years before the students in my class were born! (Jim mentioned that he wasn't trying to hide his age -- now that's transparency!).
Thanks for joining us Jim! (And congrats on being elected to WOMMA's Board of Directors!)
Tags: WOM word of mouth Word-of-Mouth Marketing buzz marketing viral marketing marketing communication