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About IWOM

What is IWOM?

"Internet Word of Mouth" (IWOM) refers to the culmination of conversations taking place in the digital space. CIC coined the term IWOM in 2004 and has since pioneered the concept as China’s leading provider of Internet intelligence and insight based on market leading proprietary technology, research and consulting. IWOM and its ever-evolving digital expression are redefining the relationship between brands and consumers. Over the past five years, we have been educating clients and agencies as to what IWOM represents; explaining everything from what a blog is to who the Backdorm Boys and Furong jiejie are. To help with this, we launched our blog in 2005 and since then we’ve been releasing the monthly IWOM trend watch, issuing IWOM white papers on a host of different topics and organizing IWOM Roundtables (see all of them here).


Why does IWOM matter?

Since 2003 and the Toyota Prado incident, barely a year goes by without some sort of crisis gripping Chinese consumers; Teflon in 2004, “Sudan Red” in 2005, SKII Chromium and Dell’s “Processor Gate” in 2006 and so on. By the time the Forbidden City Starbucks crisis hit in 2007, these incidents prompted a realization that the “voice of the consumer” was a voice that could not be ignored.

After 8 years of intense study of IWOM development in China, we have identified six areas of marketing innovation which rely heavily on IWOM insight.

  1. Business Intelligence for Strategic Planning
  2. Consumer Insight for Product Development
  3. Marketing Inspiration for Advertising Ideation
  4. Social Media Engagement and Digital Marketing Planning
  5. Digital Marketing Execution, Tracking and Evaluation
  6. Brand Online Reputation Audit and Equity Evaluation


IWOM glossary

WOM: Abbreviation of "word of mouth." Verbal passing of information, especially recommendations, in an informal, person-to-person manner, rather than by mass media, advertising, organized publication or traditional marketing. Word of mouth is typically considered as spoken communication, although web dialogue, such as blogs, BBS and emails are often now included.

IWOM: Abbreviation of "Internet Word of Mouth." It stands for text and multimedia content related to companies, products or services shared by netizens, both brands and consumers, via online community platforms such as BBS (Bulletin Board Systems or online discussion forums), blogs, video sites, social networking sites and microblogs.

Buzz: Online discussion. The word originates from the "sound" of lots of people talking.

Buzz Driver: The points of relevance creating buzz; specific aspects of industry/brand/product/campaign such as price, package, spokesman etc.

Buzz Volume: The amount of Buzz, or number of posts.

Buzz Incidence: The ratio of brand/product related posts.

Efluencer: Consumers who lead opinion in brand, products or service related discussions by posting popular content via online platforms like BBS, Blog and Video Sharing sites.

E-community: An e-community contains three key elements: platform, topics and members. Platforms indicate means of communication, such as BBS, blog and so on. Community topics are the messages that arouse common interest. Community members are those who gather and communicate in the community. All these elements form the culture and environment of an e-community.

L-K-P™: It stands for Listen-Know-Participate. It is the model that CIC offers to clients while performing IWOM research. "Listen" means listening to consumers' feedback and advice. "Know" means understanding the communities and cultures. "Participate" means to take an active role in the online conversation.

Post: The messages on social media platforms; can include topic post and reply post.

Conversation: A conversation is a set of posts talking about one topic.

Passion: The Posting Rate(PR), or average number of posts (including topic posts and reply posts) per poster, for each selected category.

Creativity: refers to the Topic Creation Factor (TCF) or the ratio between new conversations and all conversations for each selected category. Higher values typically indicate users are actively generating new topics around this specific category. 

Influence: The other posters' replies to the conversations initiated by the efluencer.

Network size: The posters who have replied to the conversation initiated by the efluencer.