Word-of-Mouth, Post-Pandemic



Jim Karrh On Marketing
by Jim Karrh

Monday, Apr. 12, 2021 12:00 am   1 min read

What is happening with good ol’ word-of-mouth?

This question is vitally important for the growth of nearly any business. Word-of-mouth tends to drive your reputation and consumers’ choices far more than do other communication channels. But because mouths have often been behind masks during the past 12 months, it makes sense to examine whether the nature of WOM itself has been altered.

A couple of years ago, when I began updating research for my book, I found multiple credible sources revealing that more than 90% of word-of-mouth happens offline. The research generally defined “offline” to include face-to-face conversations as well as phone, email, texts and video chat (in other words, communication channels other than social media posts). And within that large category, face-to-face dominated.

For an update, I turned to a 15-year review from the firm Engagement Labs. (I have no connection to the company, but its data seems reliable and it is consistent with what I see in practice.) Its review, released in January, has several important takeaways for your business:

► Face-to-face (remarkably) still dominates. A few years ago, nearly three-quarters (74%) of all offline WOM was happening face-to-face. Today — yes, through a pandemic — a strong 66% of WOM is still face-to-face. The proportion by phone is holding steady at 17%, texts and IMs have risen to 8%, with the remainder spread across video chats and real-time social media communications.

► One side often feeds the other. You might reasonably ask, “Isn’t there overlap between the things people post and see in social media, and the things they talk about in real time?” You would be right. These days nearly a quarter of offline WOM includes people talking about things they see in digital media. The implications I see for business growth include 1) making sure your team knows what is being posted in social media, and 2) equipping your team to extend the conversation.



Read the full Arkansas Business article, here.

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