The credibility of corporations and brands is in decline. The vast majority of consumers don’t believe what companies say in advertising. The most trusted source of information for most consumers not a traditional authority figure, but “a person like me.” In such an environment, and with technology providing faster, easier ways for consumers and other stakeholders to connect with one another, it’s little wonder that word-of-mouth marketing is making a comeback.

Founded in 2005, Singapore-based Vocanic is in the vanguard of the word-of-mouth marketing revolution inspired by the surging popularity of digital and social media channels. Vocanic is differentiated from the mass of mainstream public relations agencies expanding into social media by a heritage that brings together creativity and brand strategy with technology expertise—founder and chief executive Ian McKee has a background developing and managing community-building software—and a focus on return on investment that is manifest in the firm’s proprietary tools.

One of those is Groundswell, an online platform that allows brand managers to identify, segment and target brand influencers; the VOC Listening Tool, which helps companies connect directly with their customers in an engaging way that enables both qualitative and quantitative research; IdeasXchange, a community that can help with the crowdsourcing of ideas and insights; and RippleVox, a rapid response social media and word-of-mouth platform that helps companies make their first move into new media in less than two weeks.

In just over five years, Vocanic has expanded beyond Singapore to open offices in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and grown to almost 30 people. Clients include Starhub, Norton Anti-Virus, Pfizer, Sara Lee, British Council Malaysia, and several Singapore government agencies. Interesting assignments have ranged from a campaign on behalf of Sara Lee to educate Malaysians about Dengue disease and mobilize Facebook users against the mosquito-borne illness; an online contest for Tourism Australia designed to showcase the expertise of “Aussie specialist” travel agents; and a comprehensive campaign for the British Council that included promoting the Council’s English Rescue Team of English language teachers.—PH—PH