What’s word of mouth got to do with Facebook?
Plenty, says Soup, an advocacy marketing agency distinguished by its extraordinary faith in word-of-mouth campaigns.
The Sydney firm’s experimental Soup Lab has developed what it claims is a “world-first” Facebook app of its kind and embarked on a research project with Dr. Lars Groeger, a marketing lecturer at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, to measure the reach and value of “branded conversations.”
Shorn of the jargon, what Soup’s app — developed by Soup Lab’s Fred Wang — does is find how people carry on their offline conversations on Facebook, and vice versa, in the modern networked world. It analyses friendship networks on the world’s most popular social networking site and compares them with real-world conversation tracks.
“Much like the exploration into reach and frequency, this application and research project aims to uncover the nature of conversation overlap in the marketplace and how it affects purchase intent and behavior,” Soup’s Head of Insights Scott Taylor said.
Mining Facebook networks
“The methodology of the research delves into a largely untapped Facebook environment and allows us to visualise how offline conversations play out across friendship networks, ultimately understanding the impact of conversations and the return-on-investment of people talking about your brand,” he added.
Soup ran the campaign for the first time for an alcohol brand launch for which it did a word-of-mouth campaign. Participants were asked to complete a short survey on Facebook that Soup analysed maintaining anonymity.
What the agency discovered is this: “Combined, the 360 friendship networks received represents a network of more than 77,000 friends with over 600,000 friendship ties between them.”
The campaign uncovered some strong ties between offline conversations (word-of-mouth) and online conversations as seen on Facebook. Two key findings establish their importance in the world of communication, marketing and branding.
One, people physically spoke to 60% of all their total groups on their Facebook networks; and two, 50% of the surveyed people said most or all of their offline friends are part of their Facebook networks.
In the specific campaign, Soup found that 19% of all “conversations” — offline and online — were repeated by multiple persons, demonstrating how offline and online reinforce one another in ways that reinforce the brand.
“Ultimately the key outcomes of this research are the ability to put a context and story behind WOM results and better understand the how and why of social structures and conversation pass-on, proving impact and visualising conversations and reach,” said Taylor. “Ongoing, we can look at the impact of multiple word-of-mouth messages on purchase intent and lasting advocacy.”
Taylor presented results of the research at the WOMMA conference in Las Vegas in November. He and Groeger are due to co-present the research at the ESOMAR conference in Asia in April.
Since its founding in 2006, Soup has delivered word-of-mouth campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Huggies and Sony. Last year, its army of 100,000 ‘soupers’ carried the agency to the Blackberry People’s Choice Award at the regional Telstra Business Awards for New South Wales. It also was named one of BRW magazine’s Fast Starters and last year won an award from Anthill magazine.
Soup is led by founder-CEO Sharyn Smith.