Word of mouth beats “word of mouse”

New research from InTV deals yet another blow to the mistaken belief that social media is key to creating buzz about your brand. The research shows that good old fashioned word of mouth spread by real people is much 10 times more important than word of mouse spread via social media.

Here are some headlines from the study.

1. Most "conversations" about brands are face to face

The research shows that 90% of conversations about brands happen face to face. Family and friends are the most important group, followed by colleagues. Contacts via blogs or social media are minuscule (see below: "inTV" means international TV viewers). This new research confirms findings in a previous post here showing the importance of real world discussions.

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2. Word of mouth has a positive impact

The study also confirms that word of mouth has a positive impact on brand image, with the exception of banking where more people are moaning about bad service (see below for watches, travel, airlines, cars, smartphones/tablets, banking). You see this in your own life. When you want a recommendation on a restaurant or hotel or builder, nothing works as well as advice from friends or colleagues.

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3. Buzz comes from interesting products 

So word of mouth has positive impact. But how to get it? Hype from social media sellers would suggest you should be focusing on influential bloggers and tweeters and the like. But we've seen above that 90% of conversations about brands are in the real world. And look at the most talked about smartphone/tablet brands below. Apple tops the list. And yet Apple's have no active presence on social media for their products. There is no Twitter feed, and the official Facebook page is not active.

Firstly, word of mouth comes from creating amazing products that get people talking, with Apple being the masters of this, but Samsung catching up. The second form of buzz generation is interesting and impactful marketing, including communication and design. For most mainstream brands TV advertising remains the most effective way to create buzz, as it reaches masses of people and creates "brand fame", as I posted on here.

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In conclusion, despite the hype from social media sellers, for most brands good old fashioned face to face contact remains by far the most important form of word of mouth. And the best way to generate it is through making your brand interesting and talkable.