Our research with Crowd DNA revealed that social networks have fundamentally changed WOM behaviour, identifying six new nodes of influencer in the process.
Before online and social media, WOM was largely dependent on individuals being in the right place at the right time. It was also linear, slow to spread, and relied on opportunistic sharing and key individuals to share information. It was attributed to two main factors: belonging and self-esteem.
We worked with research agency Crowd DNA to explore whether the rapid rise of social networks had changed existing WOM models via an extensive literature review, a series of focus groups and a month-long online community.
We tested the theories that emerged via a series of network audits: following the chain of WOM recommendations and sharing within specific networks of friends, family and colleagues.
We discovered WOM was now faster, unmediated, and non-linear, with individuals able to connect across a wider variety of networks.
Status is now a key factor in sharing information.
We have moved from a deferral to a referral society.
Through our research, we identified six new nodes of influencer who source, surface and share stories: In & Out Narcissists, Expert Resources, Expert Broadcasters. Temporary Expert, Oversharers, and Feeders.
Narcissists and Experts used to be conversation firestarters in old WOM models but now act as a ‘go to’ resource.
Expert Broadcasters, Temporary Experts and Oversharers provide the content, velocity, validity and reach for most brand WOM.
Feeders deliver the WOM long tail: recycling and regenerating brand stories.
Via a proprietary survey we developed with Crowd DNA, we are able to identify a brand’s influencers and then map them against the different nodes, identifying how and why they change nodes in specific contexts.
This allows us to build bespoke content and contact strategies around the emotional and rational drivers that trigger their social behaviour.
We also focus the investment on influencer groups and decisioning stages with the greatest impact on sales outcomes.