Word of Mouth and Social Media: A Ten-Year Update

 
Ten years ago I published this piece at MediaVillage about newly released research which shined much needed light on online vs. offline word of mouth. It was conducted by several esteemed marketing professors and was unveiled at a Wharton event. I recently revisited the results and updated them to see just how much things have advanced in a decade as social media has boomed. And to my surprise — and I suspect to yours, as well — the answer is, “not as much as you might think.”
Social media conversation about brands then — and now — is heavily dominated by a select few categories, particularly technology and media. Most categories are very underrepresented in social media vs. real world word of mouth, led by beverages and food/dining. The 2010 Findings Seeking to understand how well the then-emerging world of social media reflected real world conversation about brands, the research addressed the scarcity of knowledge about the online/offline dynamic. “This raises a critical concern — are we searching for answers where the light is? Are the insights we gain from the online data sets relevant for the offline behavior? Are we doing the right thing when we generalize across channels? Are marketing managers doing the right thing when they choose between … [the analysis of] offline data, and [the analysis of] online word of mouth data, assuming that these two sources are substitutes?” The headline finding was clear: “Online data does not reflect well the offline behavior. Word of mouth is not channel neutral. One cannot automatically generalize the results from online to offline.”
 
  Read the full MediaVillage article, here.
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In Defense Of Short-Term Marketing

MediaPost by Corinne Casagrande , November 18, 2020 … Here are some other ways your brand can benefit from bringing sales forward: 1. Improving your look-a-like models. With more conversions, you have a bigger pool of what the people who converted look like. This helps you make decisions on how to get more of these people. 2. Increasing customer lifetime value.  When you get a customer in your flow faster, they can buy more, faster. Even when they don’t buy, identifying who the low-value customers are helps improve media decisions around inventory and targeting.  
More sales, faster leads to more salesThinking short-term can mean you are prioritizing volume over value.  But in the CPG arena, we know growth comes from trial. For services or higher ticket items, growth can also come from trial — someone else’s trial.
A widely cited study from Northwestern University and Engagement Labs found that 19% of next week’s sales for a brand are driven from word of mouth. More sales = more interaction with the product or service = increased opportunity for WOM sales. Performance media  kickstarts this equation. It’s a hard and often thankless job to build the long-term, consistent memory structures we call brands. It takes a little science, a lot of faith and a ton of craft. But most of all, it takes money. It’s 2020. If you have lots of extra marketing budget, I’d like to hear about it. Otherwise, don’t feel bad about digging into performance.   Read the full MediaPost article, here.
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Trust and Historic Television Viewership Equal Brand Sales

  November 10, 2020 By Brad Seitter   … Before advertising on broadcast TV, Roof Fix closed sales at no more than 30 percent regardless of the medium they advertised on. Once they moved to broadcast TV, their close ratio jumped to 80 percent and revenue grew exponentially over the next five years. Duane said that having built trust with consumers via broadcast TV advertising made the difference when it came to discussing advertising. This isn’t to say TV is the only way, but studies confirm its efficacy in building trust with consumers over digital and social. Often TV works in synergy with these other media to get optimal results. According to a 2020 Engagement Labs study, 81 percent of consumers say they trust the news they hear or see on broadcast news, 59 percent trust cable news and 31 percent say they trust news on social media. In the same study, consumers were asked where they believe fake news is most prevalent. Fifty-nine percent said social media, while only 5 percent said it’s most prevalent on local broadcast TV. This is a useful snapshot of consumer sentiment that can help guide strategic advertising decisions. Ultimately, the combination of a trusted viewing environment and extensive viewer reach equals opportunity for marketers.  

Automotive

Former head of marketing for Toyota North America, Steve Sturm provided an analysis on how trust and viewership works similarly for the automotive category. The auto market suffered its largest decline in over 10 years with the impact of the pandemic. Monthly vehicle sales fell by 42.6 percent at its lowest point in April, but by September sales were only down 2.8 percent from last year. New vehicle sales are now forecasted to finish 2020 between 14 to 14.5 million vs. an original forecast of 16.8 million.   Read the full ANA (Association of National Advertisers) article, here.
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Biden Word-of-Mouth Sentiment Turns Positive For First Time

MediaPost   Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden is being talked about slightly more positively than negatively for the first time during the campaign, according to the latest three-week rolling average from Engagement Labs. Joe Biden has a “net sentiment” of +1, meaning slightly more kitchen-table conversations about the candidate are positive rather than negative, a big improvement from three weeks ago when he was at -18. By comparison, conversations about Donald Trump for the three weeks ending October 11 are at -26, similar to three weeks ago (-24).

This is the headline finding from the most current weekly tracking of word of mouth from Engagement Labs, using a methodology to measure everyday conversations that in 2016 helped prove the crucial role of the James Comey letter in swinging the election to Donald Trump in the campaign’s final days.

Even when in negative territory, the conversation about Joe Biden has been less negative than Trump’s every week of the campaign since Memorial Day when Biden emerged from seclusion due to COVID-19, wearing a mask. At that time, Trump was at -37 and Biden at -38.

Word of mouth trends in the 2020 presidential campaign are quite different than four years ago when conversations about both nominees, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, were consistently more negative than today.  During the second week of October, Clinton was 38 points worse than Joe Biden now, and Trump in 2016 was 29 points worse than now.

Read the full MediaPost article, here.
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Radio Ranks As Most Trustworthy Source in New iHeartMedia Poll

 

The survey also revealed radio delivers tangible benefits to listeners, from improving mood to remaining connected to the community

A survey conducted for iHeartMedia found that radio continues to rank very highly as a trustworthy medium.In fact it found radio to be number one in terms of trust and also two times more trustworthy than social media. As a major owner of radio stations, iHeart clearly has a horse in this game. But the findings of its survey are likely to be used not only by the company itself but around the industry. U.S. commercial broadcasters are continuing to navigate an economy hampered by a pandemic against a background of frequent debate about the trustworthiness of all forms of media. According to the summary from the company, listeners found radio to be 79% more or just as trustworthy versus a year ago. Comparatively, social media was seen to be 50% less trustworthy than during the same time period. Similar sentiments were in store for other social media sites. In particular, the survey found that sentiment for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has fallen in recent months, with Facebook down 56%, Instagram down 38% and Twitter down 140%.
The survey found that:
  • 75% of those surveyed trust radio
  • 66% of those surveyed trust television
  • 57% of those surveyed trust websites
  • 38% of those surveyed trust Twitter
  • 37% of those surveyed trust Facebook
IHeart also said that listeners believe radio delivers tangible benefits to them, with an overwhelming majority of respondents citing that it improves their mood, helps them feel less isolated and allows them to feel more connected to their community.   Read the full Radio World article, here.
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Survey: Listeners Trust In Radio Has Grown While Social Media Trust Has Declined

A new survey of radio listeners finds their trust in radio and its personalities continues to grow as social media has become far less trustworthy during the past year. Conducted by data and analytics firm Engagement Labs and commissioned by iHeartMedia, the study shows listeners ages 18-69 place higher trust in radio than in television or social media and that 79% of respondents said radio is more or just as trustworthy compared to a year ago while social media is 50% less trustworthy during the same time period. The study, released ahead of the ANA State Of Audio Today virtual half-day conference, found that sentiment for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has plummeted in recent months among radio listeners, with Facebook down 56%, Instagram down 38% and Twitter down 140%. Among radio listeners 18-69, the survey found 75% trust radio, 66% trust television, 57% trust websites, 38% trust Twitter and 37% trust Facebook. According to a press release summarizing the study, respondents said listening to radio and its on-air personalities helps them feel less isolated and more connected to their community, especially with the current social distancing guidelines.   Read the full Inside Radio article, here.
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MarketingCharts Data Hub: Coronavirus and Marketing [Updated]

MarketingCharts   August 3, 2020 Let’s take an updated look at how marketers and consumers are dealing with this crisis. The below is a curated list of data that we’ve gathered in recent weeks, but with news about the global spread of the coronavirus and its effects on consumers and businesses changing daily, this data will continue to evolve over time. Stay safe out there readers, and please respect all local rules and regulations. Now, let’s have a look at some of the data that has come in since the last update:

 

Consumers

  • In light of restrictions and quarantine measures hindering travel in the US, many Americans appear to be embracing the great outdoors. Recent data from Comscore shows that weekly visits to Sports & Outdoor retail sites saw considerable y-o-y growth in April (71%) and May (86%). Source: Comscore.
  • Although the pandemic has led to a great deal of uncertainty, consumers are still shopping, and advertising is still a driver in purchase decisions. More than one-third (36%) of US consumers surveyed report they have made an impulse buy based on an ad since the start of the pandemic. Advertising isn’t the only driver – they still like a good deal, with some 76% reporting that they have discovered new products based on deals they have received from brands. Source: Valassis.
  • During the pandemic, more than half (53%) of American consumers say they have purchased brands they would not normally purchase. But that’s not to say that this behavior will stick post-COVID-19, with about three-quarters (77%) claiming they will return to their favorite brands at that time. Source: MRI-Simmons.
  • Media & Entertainment brands have driven offline conversations since the pandemic began. Indeed, Engagement Labs’ data finds that in the 12 weeks ending July 12, 2020, Netflix saw a striking 75% y-o-y growth in real-life conversations. Amazon, Disney+, CNN, Hulu and Amazon Prime also topped the list of offline conversations. Source: Engagement Labs.
  • Looking ahead, many US adults say they will spend less time watching pay-TV programs (41%) after COVID-19. That said, pluralities believe their consumption of pay-TV programs (44%) and watching movies (53%) or series (54%) on streaming services will remain the same even after the pandemic has passed. Source: Ipsos.
  • US kids (ages 4-15) are spending an average of 95 minutes per day with TikTok since the beginning of the pandemic, compared to the 82 minutes spent with the app in February 2020. Read more here.
    Read the full MarketingCharts article, here.
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Word-Of-Mouth Remains Vital To Consumers During COVID-19

MediaPost   by Ed Keller, Columnist The COVID-19 pandemic may have cleared out offices, public transit, bars, restaurants, and social gatherings, but Americans have continued to enjoy their gift for gab when it comes to talking about and recommending brands. Compared to a year ago, consumer talk is up by double digits in social media. Yet despite social distancing rules, real-world offline word-of-mouth conversations are also up 2% between April and July, compared to the same time last year. During this period, that amounts to 14 billion weekly word-of-mouth impressions about products, services and brands. Consumer conversations are important because they have been shown to motivate 19% of consumer sales, with online and offline conversations playing equally important roles. Yet there is no correlation between online and offline conversations, making it important to pay attention to both. While offline conversations are up 2%, how and where those conversations are occurring has changed somewhat.  For starters, a larger percentage now occur at home, with more people hunkered down and avoiding going out. About 70% of all conversations about consumer categories and brands now occur at home, versus about 63% prior to the pandemic. The increase became most noticeable the first week of April and hit 70% by the end of that month. Two-thirds of those conversations at home are happening face-to-face with other household members, but many involve telephone, text, email to people outside of the home, providing ways for people to share information about products and services with each other at social distance. Indeed, we believe word-of-mouth has become more important as consumers are seeking help from each other as they navigate their changed lives. As we reported recently, increasing word-of-mouth conversation activity related to health and healthcare (+29%), household products (+18%), beauty (+16%), entertainment (+13%), and financial services (+10%) are indications of the changing needs of consumers amid the pandemic.     Read the full MediaPost article, here.
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Chrissy Teigen Joins Boycott of Goya Foods After CEO Says ‘We’re All Truly Blessed’ to Have Trump

People.com logo   By Benjamin VanHoose July 10, 2020 10:46 AM   … Goya Foods was founded by Spanish immigrants in 1936, according to the brand’s official website. The company offers more than 2,500 different products from Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, Central and South America. In March 2019, Goya was voted America’s No. 2 most-loved food brand, per the Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial brand awards. As part of Thursday’s Hispanic Prosperity Initiative executive order, Goya announced that it would donate 1 million can of chickpeas and 1 million lbs. of food products to food banks across the U.S. to benefit those impacted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In a press release, Unanue didn’t address his Trump comments, but added that he’s “honored” to be part of the executive order and to “support and celebrate the contributions of the Hispanic community.” “We are committed to our country and the need to give back because it is the right thing to do,” Unanue said. “Our country faces a time of historic challenge but we will meet that challenge together and continue to work towards greatness, focus on a strong recovery, and hold onto the hope for a healthier future for all.” A number of other figures reacted to Unanue’s “truly blessed” quote on Twitter, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who wrote, “Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,'” referencing one of Goya’s popular spice mixes.       Read the full People.com article, here.
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Americans Talking About Racial Justice, COVID-19 Also Talk About Brands’ Engagement With Issues

MediaPost by Laurie Sullivan @lauriesullivan Marketers have turned their attention to racial justice and unrest, recognizing a long overdue need to use their influence in advertising and organic platforms to bring about change in America. Knowing how many brands have become engaged with both COVID-19 and racial justice is important. People who discuss racial justice or major health issues have 21 more brand-related conversations a week than the average American. These consumers talk more about most categories than the general public. Engagement Labs found that among Americans, the most common conversations relate to racial justice and COVID-19, and an equal number of Americans say each of the two issues are the most impactful topics discussed, according to data released Wednesday. Some of the data was analyzed between March 16 and June 21, 2020, while other data had a shorter span of June 15-June 21, 2020. Offline conversations focus on both racial justice and COVID-19, whereas social media chatter is focused more on racial justice and equality, according to Engagement Labs, which combines offline and online data. The study found that those who talk about these issues also talk about brands, according to data that was pulled between June 15 and June 21, 2020. Discussions about COVID-19 are most impactful among older and middle-income consumers, and Democrats. The Demographic Profile table looks at the proportion of people who talked about racism or racial justice during the day of the study and compares it to the Total Public percentages. The table also depicts the proportion of people who deemed a conversation about racism or racial justice as their “most impactful discussion” of the day.     Read the full MediaPost article, here.
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