By Ed Keller Two research studies about the importance of word of mouth in China came to my attention recently. One was by Initiative and the other by TNS. These come on top of a 2010 article in the Harvard Business Review on “The Power of Word of Mouth in China” by two McKinsey consultants who say, “Physical or virtual, word-of-mouth is an essential brand-building tool for companies in China.” To gain a better understanding about word of mouth and social media in China, I had a discussion with Asit Gupta. After 17 years with multinational companies like Procter & Gamble, British American Tobacco, and DDB Advertising – in India, Russia, UK and Greater China — Gupta recently started Advocacy, a word of mouth marketing company in China,. Advocacy is

The new television season is upon us, and the trade press has been abuzz, not only about which new shows will thrive and which will die, but also about social media and so-called social media ratings. Senior TV executives are joining the conversation. Some see social media as a powerful amplifier and “the connective tissue that links everything together.” Others take a more tempered approach, saying, “Social media is a driver of buzz and engagement, but it’s not the core driver of revenue or ratings.” What has been completely missing from the discussion is that when it comes to social conversation about TV shows, the action is still overwhelmingly offline, not on social networking sites. In fact, more than 80% of conversations about TV shows take place face-to-face, whereas only

The CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh has 1.8 million followers on Twitter. In many marketing circles, he is something of a Twitter god, using the Twitter feed to promote Zappos and his way of thinking about business (as expressed in his book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose) to his many followers. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw a TV interview with Hsieh, in which he said he dislikes the term social media. In fact, he dislikes it so much that anyone who uses it around him at Zappos owes him a dollar. It’s not just the use of the term social media; it’s the whole idea of it. “We have never had a strategy for Twitter or Facebook. . . So many companies are chasing

Banks and bankers have not had a good press over the last few years, with politicians, media commentators, and the general public seemingly having little good to say about them. For other financial services brands the picture is not quite so dire, but even so, brands in this sector appear to be tolerated rather than loved. Brand relationships are strictly platonic. Added to that, who wants to talk to friends about boring old banking and insurance brands?  So surely there must be very little positive word of mouth in this sector? Well, it’s true that financial services comes towards the bottom of the list of categories which people talk about – but not the very bottom.  29% of Americans had a conversation about this category in the past 24 hours,

Life in the Fast (Food) Lane

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 by

Today’s teens live in the fast lane – school, homework, extra-curricular activities like sports or band, a social life, and in many cases a part-time job take up much of their time.  They are on the go from early in the morning to late at night.  And often fast food is the quickest and easiest option to fuel their fast-paced lives. Recent Keller Fay research from TalkTrack®, our ongoing study of what people are talking about, both online and offline, shows that teens are also highly likely to talk about fast food, or QSR (Quick Service Restaurants):  20% of QSR WOM is among teens age 13 to 17.  And for some of the more popular brands, teens account for more than one-quarter of those talking about them (Burger King, 27%;

With the meteoric rise of social networking, marketers can be forgiven for thinking that word of mouth equals social media. This is wrong on two counts. Firstly, the overwhelming majority of word of mouth still occurs offline, not online. This is not an indictment of social media, but rather a reflection of just how large the volume of face-to-face word of mouth is. Because offline WOM is harder to measure, it’s often discounted. But that’s a mistake. There are important planning and evaluation implications that stem from this, and we have discussed them previously. The second problem with thinking WOM equals social media is that the role of the internet in word of mouth extends far, far beyond social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare. The things people see

In his keynote speech to the Advertising Research Foundation’s recent media conference, New York Times columnist David Brooks talked about key themes from his new book, The Social Animal, that relate to marketing.  He told the audience of nearly 700 that he believes the primacy of emotion is one of the three most important “foundations” coming out of scientific inquiry in the fields of neuroscience and psychology.  “Emotions are central to how we think and to the wiring of the fibers of the brain,” he said. At the same conference, I presented a paper with MediaVest’s Emily Vanides on the topic, “Conversation Triggers:  Sparking Conversation with Advertising and Media.”  Consistent with the point made by Brooks, our research shows that strong emotional content is key to people’s desire to pass

Word of Mouth and the Internet

Monday, 20 June 2011 by

New research from Keller Fay and Google reveals new information on word of mouth and the Internet.  Click here to see the video.

Conversation Triggers

Tuesday, 14 June 2011 by

Ed Keller and Emily Vanides of MediaVest presented at the ARF AM 6.0 conference on June 13, 2011. Click here to see the presentation.

How do we know word of mouth drives sales? An important answer to this question comes from a new study that demonstrates the increasing importance of word of mouth as consumers get closer to making a purchase decision. Word of mouth advocacy has become a central objective for most marketers, and positive “WOM” is increasingly understood to be a leading contributor, ultimately, to sales. Separately, marketers and media planners use the concept of a “purchase funnel,” or “path to purchase,” as an organizing structure around which to craft messaging strategy. Despite advertisers’ intense focus both on word of mouth and on the path to purchase, there has been little focus on the relationship between these two “independent” marketing constructs: How does WOM dynamically change throughout the path to purchase? What