FEATURE14 December 2017

Shared behaviours

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Word of mouth is vital to brands, and social media has added another dimension to the conversation. But offline and online sharing work in very different ways. By Bronwen Morgan

Red-lips word of mouth_crop

Social media has made the world simultaneously bigger and smaller. Where once an ordinary person only had a limited circle of influence, now – as long as there’s an internet  connection – we can all share our reviews and recommendations of brands and products with the world, via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, among others. 

As a result, these platforms have become popular among marketers and market researchers alike, for providing access to ‘authentic’ conversations. But there are questions around the extent to which social media conversations reflect real-world ones. Can the two be reliably considered as reflections of one another? 

Not according to a recent study in the Journal of Advertising Research: ‘Why Online Word-of-Mouth Measures Cannot Predict Brand Outcomes Offline’. 

The study looked at four metrics – volume, sentiment, sharing and influence – to assess the potential correlations between online and offline conversations about brands. It found almost none. 

Brad Fay, chief commercial ...