The highly anticipated initial public offering by Facebook’s marks the coming-of-age for online social media.
Facebook’s value has been pumped sky-high by marketers in the US and worldwide who are flocking to online social platforms like Facebook to capitalize on the opportunity to leverage consumer relationships to sell their products and services.
But this period between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is an appropriate time to let marketers in on a secret. The amount of brand conversation taking place on Facebook and other social networking sites is a drop in the bucket compared to the real world conversations between parents and kids, spouses, friends, and with colleagues at work. And the impact of these real world conversations is considerably bigger, as well.
Yet Facebook, and its social media kin, represent merely the tip of the social iceberg.
In our new book, The Face-to-Face Book, we reveal statistics that would startle the typical chief marketing officer: Over 90% of consumer conversations about brands and companies still happen in the offline world, including three-quarters that happens face-to-face.
Indeed, those face-to-face conversations are also more credible, more likely to lead to purchase, and more positive about brands and companies than their online social media counterparts.
Many industries—food and beverages, beauty and household products, children’s and health products—are rarely discussed in social media, but frequently so in “real life.”
These face-to-face conversations are not merely spontaneous recommendations for brands that delivered superior satisfaction.
We find that they happen most effectively when nurtured, encouraged, and amplified by marketing activities. Indeed, half of all brand conversations are the result of some kind of marketing communication initiated by a company—but less than 3% of the time does online social media provide the trigger.
What media motivates conversation?
In fact, television commercials spark more brand conversations than any other form of media or marketing. Next, in order, are TV programs, in-store displays, coupons and circulars, brand websites, internet ads, newspaper ads, and product packages.
In other words, every form of marketing drives word of mouth—or it should.
It’s on this basis that we think CMOs need to get away from thinking about social media as their primary social “channel,” and instead approach social marketing as a strategy involving all forms of media and marketing.
Social media provides a valuable service when we are by ourselves, but it cannot replace the face-to-face relationships.
For marketers, the message is the same. Online social media networks have a role to play, but they are just one social channel among many.
The primary sparks for face-to-face conversations are elsewhere in your marketing toolkit.
All media can be social, if the strategy is sound and the plan sets as a primary goal to drive word of mouth.
And if you don’t believe us, just ask Mom or Dad what gets them talking. But please do so face-to-face.
Ed Keller is the CEO of the Keller Fay Group, and has been called “one of the most recognized names in word-of-mouth.” The publication of his first book, The Influentials (Free Press, 2003), has been called a “seminal moment in the development of word of mouth.” He is a past President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and of the Market Research Council. He lives in New York.
Brad Fay is the chief operating officer of the Keller Fay Group. Brad won the Grand Innovation Award of the Advertising Research Foundation for the development of Keller Fay’s TalkTrack®, acontinuous measurement system for all consumer conversations about brands and companies, both offline and online. He lives in New Jersey.
For more information visit www.KellerFay.com.