On Tuesday this week, Laurent Flores, one of the founders of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, presented a keynote paper at the Australian Market and Social Research Society 2008 national conference (pictured below).
He said his work was inspired by The Cluetrain Manifesto (www.cluetrain.com) and argued that research and customer service must be integrated.
With the average consumer being exposed to 3000 advertising messages every day (three per minute), Flores explored the concept of 'share of voice' (SOV) in online chatter (blogs and fora). One of his favourite tools to observe the blogosphere is www.blogpulse.com (now owed by Nielsen). Flores demonstrated correlations between SOV and the French election result (>0.95), which was better than the conventional opinion polls.
Flores also demonstrated how even a Google Image search can be revealing - he showed screen shots showing search results for Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton (still revealing, even today - check it out at https://images.google.com).
He concluded by encouraging researchers to embrace co-creation and co-determination of ideas, saying "Brands are scared of bad feedback but if you don't do it, it will happen anyway somewhere else".