Let’s Take Word of Mouth Offline
Social media seems to be the latest version of sliced bread. All but the laggards of brands have dipped a toe in, while others are looking at how they can restructure their organizations to better support the dialogue required of this on-line focused phenomenon.
In contrast, I recently participated in one of the most offline of activities – - a girl’s weekend. I came home with funny stories and a list of new products to try, another TV show to DVR, a handful of songs to download and a book or two I’m convinced I need in order to immediately improve my life. The experience of spending time with people like me was the perfect space for sharing perspectives, experiences and ultimately, that which is most valued by marketers, recommendations.
Social media gives more people a voice and the opportunity to connect with more people and brands and causes they care about. It’s powerful stuff and, used right by marketers, can be a key driver of recommendations. But as marketers in our social media obsessed world, we cannot overlook the old-school power of offline face-to-face. Gathering online can be powerful, but who can argue the connection made when hanging out with friends, meeting with folks of similar interests or in a group focused on a collective issue? The true opportunity is finding ways for brands to become relevant to those conversations in ways that provide value to the participants. Through Word of Mouth Marketing it’s possible and powerful.
The PQ Media/ Word of Mouth Marketing Association study released last week trumpeted the growth of Word of Mouth vs. other forms of marketing, and it further validates the influence of Word of Mouth on our purchase behavior. Although this study sheds light on some of the dramatic changes in the ways consumers are responding to both marketers and the brands themselves, it only gives half the story. Perhaps next year’s study should look at the impact of offline vs. online Word of Mouth on recommendation?
Fact is that brands need to do both and in complementary ways. Brands need to be involved in social media in order to be part of the conversation. But, they can’t forget to take it offline as well to create personal interactions that fuel recommendations.