Point of view: To the power of WOM

Molly Flatt

When I was asked to guest edit this month's Admap Focus on Word-of-Mouth Marketing, I knew it would be an easy gig. From Brad Fay, founder of the world's only offline and online word-of-mouth research company, to Craig Hepburn, who is using word-of-mouth to transform the way Nokia engages with people across the world, the leaders in this industry have now had several years to prove that conversation really does drive business – and that it can be measured, grown and managed long-term.

But any discussion of word-of-mouth (WOM) needs to be framed with two basic questions. How does it differ from social media? And why does that distinction matter? Below I humbly (OK, not so humbly. Passionately and unashamedly) offer seven reasons why it's time to graduate from social media to WOM.

One is a technology, the other is a human behaviour. Social media are tools that allow people to connect with each other, while WOM is the behaviour they engage in while using those tools. Changing behaviour is better achieved by understanding the conversation than understanding the technology.