The annual confab of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) always provides some interesting tidbits from its array of expert speakers. Here are three of my favorite presentations:

 NASA Social

Who knew how cool NASA’s social program is? Of course when your visual content is pictures from deep space that no one else has, it’s easy to be noticed.

John Yembrick shared some lessons learned along the way to becoming an advanced social brand.

“If I had my way, I’d replace the news release with social channels and be done with it.” This quote was the set-up for a story about an experiment that John conducted. He sent out a release and monitored coverage. Two days later, he released the same information via social channels and saw a huge uptick in coverage. His conclusion is that social outlets generate more news. While this conclusion is based on a limited sample, it drives NASA’s approach to interacting with the media. They conduct digital news conferences using Google Hangouts. They also use social outlets to build relationships with people who can help spread stories on behalf of the space agency.

NASA went through a process of creating strong governance for its social properties. At one point, 480 different NASA accounts muddied the social space. An edict was issued directing the owners of these assets to follow the NASA guidelines or they would be “dead to (him).” This meant no links or mentions on @NASA or and no listing in NASA’s social directories.


“Great content worth sharing” is the Buzzfeed mantra. Terry City from Buzzfeed reported that 75% of the audience for their content comes from social feeds and that they have 175 million unique views per month. 50% of their viewers are millennials. They love brands, but don’t like to be advertised to; thus they love Buzzfeed content and hate banners. This dynamic inspired Buzzfeed to launch Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, a full-fledged studio in Hollywood. The branded videos that they create are good for the “bored” phenomenon associated with millennials: bored in line; bored in traffic; bored at work. Solution? Launch a funny video for instant amusement. Branded videos fit the bill here. They deliver a branded message in a soft way but still get SEO juice! Bill showed Purina’s Dear Kitten videos as an example. Purina got a 58% brand lift and 17 million views in a two week period.

City gave six key attributes that make branded content work:

  • Cute
  • Humor
  • Text “fails” (“Thank You Autocorrect”)
  • Identity (content people identify with)
  • Nostalgia
  • Helpful

WOMMA Return of WOM Study

One of the most enlightening sessions featured research that was sponsored by WOMMA. The research used real data from several brands to take an independent cross channel look at how word-of-mouth (WOM) performs in driving behaviors vs. other channels in the Marketing Mix Model.

Here are some factoids from the study:

  • WOM amplifies the effect of paid media by 15%
  • WOM drives 13% of consumer sales
  • One offline WOM impression drives ≥5x more than one paid media impression (much higher for high consideration categories such as electronics)
  • Offline WOM produces two-thirds of measured business impact while online WOM drives one-third

The study used structural equation modeling to gauge the direct vs. indirect effects of WOM. It considered the impact of WOM as part of an interconnected channel strategy. One of the findings indicated that both online and offline WOM have an immediate impact on paid TV; yet paid TV has deeper long-term impact than WOM on sales. The conclusion: spark new TV campaigns with WOM.

The full report can be found here.

Content Innovation

I had the pleasure of co-presenting with Carlos Abler from 3M about Content Innovation: Beyond the PDF. Here is a link to our presentation.

Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.