Word of Mouth is Still Sexier Than Social Media

Social Media is sexy. Word of mouth is still sexier. Yea, I know, everyone wants a date with sexy social media right now, but trust me, word of mouth is the one you want to take home to meet your parents. Word of mouth is that long-term relationship that can turn into marriage. And I have the sexy numbers to prove it.

Photo Credit: Tiago Ribeiro

Yesterday morning at the Austin Social Media Breakfast, WOM Enthusiast John Moore, of Brand Autopsy, gave the numbers to about 40 marketing and social media students.
(*John Moore graciously sent me his cheat sheet with all the stats you see here.)

– 76% of consumers believe companies are untruthful in their advertising.
(Source: Bold Mouth’s “Perceptions, Practices, and Ethics” report 2006)

– 78% of global consumers say recommendations from other consumers are the most credible form of advertising.
(Source: Nielsen’s “Truth in Advertising” report 2007)

– The typical American takes part in 125 person-to-person/voice-to-voice conversations per week that discuss products and services.
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study)

– Specific brands mentioned 90 times per week in person-to-person/voice-to-voice conversations
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study 2009)

– 90% of brand-related conversations take place offline versus 10% online.
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study)

– Ranked from highest to lowest, the most common activity where word of mouth (WOM) occurs:

  1. Face-to-face conversations – 75%
  2. Voice-to-Voice conversation – 15%
  3. Text message – 3.2%
  4. Email – 3.1%
  5. Social media – 1.3% <—– Are you stunned by that figure?
    (Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study 2009)

– Positive WOM comments out-weigh to negative comments by a ratio of 6:1
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study)

– 22% of all brand-related conversations are sparked directly from advertising.
(Source: Keller Fay Talk Track study)

– 78% of brand-related conversations are sparked by something else:

  1. Great customer service
  2. Explaining how something works
  3. Remarkable and entertaining stuff

At this point, you may be wondering why social media seems like it’s so much sexier than word of mouth. After all, social media gets all the press these days, and social media gets all the dates with the a-list marketers. In my opinion, that’s precisely why. The a-list marketers and bloggers are heavy users of social media, and consequently, social media seems sexier. I believe it’s borne out by this statistic:

– 5% of Twitter users account for 75% of all activity on Twitter. And 75% of Twitter users joined in 2009. 94% of users have less than 100 followers.
(Source: sysmos “Inside Twitter” report 2009)

How to Score a Date with Word of Mouth

Social media looks good on your arm when you walk into a marketing meeting. All the other marketers will wink at you and tell you how good your Facebook page looks, how clever your tweets are. But you’d better pay some attention to traditional word-of-mouth, because that’s where you can really score. How? John Moore had some relationship advice for those trying to court word of mouth.

1. People don’t want to do business with a boring brand.
What’s exciting about your brand? It’s not enough to deliver good customer service and sell quality products. Anyone can do that. Create a little excitement by doing something unusual and unexpected.

2. A brand’s personality is the best form of advertising.
Let your personality shine in your business. Are you outgoing, gregarious? Maybe you have a great sense of humor and you like to be playful? Whatever your personality, make it evident in your brand. Your brand is an extension of you.

3. Remarkable things get remarked about.
Customers don’t recommend the ordinary. Add some magic spots to your business; products, services, and experience, that customers have to talk about.

4. Create an experience that sparks conversation.
Creating a remarkable customer experience may be the best way to earn word of mouth. Think of interaction with customers as the opportunity to write a customer story that they can re-tell to their friends and family.

Now that you know, who do you want to date? Sure go out with social media for some good times, meet some new friends. But now that you know the numbers, don’t you think word of mouth is sexier? How will it affect the way you market your business?

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