By Rachel Ullstrom / Social Account Director, Rio SEO

This past week the Rio SEO Social team was in full force at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Summit (#WOMMASummit) in beautiful yet cold Nashville, Tenn. In general, it was great to see so much cohesion in the industry in terms of insights, metrics and overarching themes. However, my general takeaways centered on shareable brand content, as well as consumer engagement marketing.

Top Takeaways

The general sessions were a great chance to not only meet people and connect with all kinds of professionals who focus on word of mouth (WOM) online and offline. Likewise, some of my favorite moments happened in these general sessions, where I saw connection-focused marketing from Kid President –  a Nivea print ad that charges phones on the beach – and audience-focused content and connection in music. Most importantly, what’s clear is that we are all looking for more meaningful and measurable approaches to WOM and brand content.

The marketer no longer owns the brand content; consumers do.  

The best quote of the entire summit came from Jay Baer. A social media marketing consultant, he said, “Brands are now competing against EVERYTHING.”

This was in response to the integration of owned, earned, paid and personal content into all our social feeds online. So, don’t just compete – connect. Consumers are no longer just looking to brands for insight and value. Increasingly, we are looking to our peers online and off.

Moreover, as our own VP of Social Technologies Ben Straley said most succinctly, “Find the right users to tell your story and give them the right content and tools to tell it for you.”

Furthermore, reviews, forums and advocacy outreach are critical to brand messaging. And as Google’s Suzanne Fanning put it, “WOMM is no longer just an OPTION.”

You can view a full recap of the events at, but below are some of my favorite highlights about brand content:

  • Hilton cares, so you can too. Jay Baer’s opening session on his concept of “YOUtility,” driving value for consumers, was interesting and well delivered. I couldn’t help but wonder though if it’s the kind of thing that gets lost in bottom-line translation for corporations. While consumers love the 1:1 touches and helpful outreach, plus the example was really cool, I think we get a little lost in the WOM community when looking for long-term engagements and perception loft, or aiming for short-term conversions. A fundamental shift in thinking from short-term conversion to long-term relationships is really the first step towards a successful value-based engagement.

Womma Summit Review brand content

  • Soul pancake – emotional connection is measurable. Create the kind of content that resonates with your brand and audience – and MEASURE success. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; they may teach you as much about your brand as success does. Be authentic to who you are and make sure you feel “real” to your audience. Maybe the Rio SEO Social team should have a 3 p.m. dance party every day. This could foster an environment of creativity and fun. Check out these great examples of the team’s work at Kid President Pep Talk and Heart Attack
  • User-generated content is branded content.  Your consumers are telling your story for you every day. They do this in comments, tweets, forums, reviews, personal stories, and in their living rooms. Be sure to enable them to tell this story everywhere, and engage them to drive an audience and value-focused narrative. My favorite example of this was the beautiful and personal storytelling Skype moved to when they realized that conversations and content around utility and capabilities were not driving sales or connections, and moved to a value-story that was emotional and resonant. Here’s the video.

Word of mouth is not about the numbers, it’s about the people who drive them.

Enabling your targeted consumers to share, talk and provide feedback, while constantly working to understand them through audience insights and data, is the most effective way to understand and drive long-term connections with your audience.

In sum, as Dez Dickerson put it, “If you have an audience in music, you have a career.”

Indeed, we all have an audience, and we need to appreciate and understand these folks in order to grow.