MediaPost – Commentary Social media and Word of Mouth: 2 ecosystems that must be mastered

Published by Ed Keller on March 29, 2017

One of social media’s key attractions to marketers is the window it provides on authentic conversations and opinions of consumers, as both a marketing channel and an insights platform.

But do the conversations occurring on social media platforms accurately reflect consumer conversations about brands more generally — the type of discussions people have in person with family, friends, colleagues at work, and so forth? If consumer conversation is an iceberg, then social media is the visible “tip” above the ocean surface, while offline conversation is the largely invisible portion that lies beneath. How well does the social media tip of the iceberg reveal what is a much larger conversation happening in real life?

The answer is: not well.

My firm recently completed extensive new research, looking week by week at social media and word-of-mouth conversation about more than 500 brands. While there is a modest correlation between online and offline conversation volume over time, such correlations are too infrequent to be relied upon. Marketers who depend on social media conversation alone are listening to only a part of what consumers say about their brand, and are vulnerable to making misguided conclusions about brand health.

Read the full MediaPost article, here.

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