Join Jonah Berger for an in-depth discussion in this video Having both an online and an offline marketing strategy, part of Jonah Berger on Viral Marketing.
We've talked about the value of word of mouth, and why it's much more effective than traditional advertising. But now let's turn to how to get it. How do we get people talking about our stuff, and how can we use that to help our own products and ideas catch on? When most of us think about word of mouth, we tend to think about online, things like Facebook, things like Twitter, other social media sites. But if you had to guess, what percent out of a 100 of all word of mouth is online? So all the way from 100 down to 0, what percent is on things like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, blogs and reviews, versus offline or face to face? Take a second to think of a number, got it in mind? Well I think the answer will surprise you.
I bet many of you were guessing something like 50%, 60%, maybe even 70%. But the answer is seven. Only 7% of word of mouth is online. And that's much lower than most of us might think. Indeed that number is getting higher every year, and indeed online channels, like Facebook and Twitter, have changed the way people communicate. But one important thing to remember is that's not the only place to think about word of mouth. Most word of mouth is still face to face conversations. Whether it's around the breakfast table with your family, at lunch with your colleagues at work, or grabbing drinks with your friends after work.
These face to face conversations drive a lot of what people talk about and share. And so when thinking about how to apply word of mouth, do think about online, particularly if you sell a product that is online. Online can be quite useful. There's a link that people can click on that takes them directly to your website or other places that really allows you to take an action. Offline's tough in that regard. There's no link anyone can click on in an offline conversation to drive them to action. But because offline conversations are so much more prevalent, think about how to have both an online strategy and an offline strategy.
It's not just enough to say, well we've got a social media presence. We're on Facebook. We're on Twitter. What's your offline strategy? And when you think about online, don't just think about how to get your follower count higher. Because at the end of the day, most of us don't care about the number of followers we have. We care about how many people are purchasing from us or engaging with our content. And so at the end of the day, while followers are great, what we should really care about is engagement, things like retweets, things like clicks on your link, things like driving to action like sales. So post bitly short links, and other types of content in your post to see if people are actually clicking on your content.
What you'll see is that only about 1 to 2% of people, of your followers or your friends are actually looking at the messages you put out there. And so while Facebook and Twitter are useful technologies, they're not strategies. Think beyond the simple technology and think why are people talking and sharing in the first place. Because you might be posting a lot of things but if no one's sharing that content it's not going to be very effective. At the end of the day, the goal is to get people talk and share because technologies will come and go. Last year Twitter and Facebook were really popular but people have talked about things like Instagram and Foursquare and Vine and all sorts of new technology.
So think less about the technology and more about the psychology. There are lots of useful tools out there. But how can you make those tools work for you? To make them work, you'll have to understand why do people talk and share in the first place. Why people might pass along a message, share a story, or spread word of mouth about a product, brand, or initiative. If you understand how word of mouth works, you can use it to make your products and ideas more successful.
- Word-of-mouth marketing
- Harnessing the power of social media
- What makes content go viral
- Why people share some stories more than others
- Telling stories that carry your message