Recommendations – where do they come from?

24Jan08

Forrester - WOM results Sometimes I feel I live in a bubble where social media has a disproportionate impact on decision making. The part of me that has not immersed myself in the kool-aid understands that the technology industry in which I work is more likely to be receptive to this media but I should be careful about taking this view for the world at large.

Forrester has some interesting research that seeks to identify how decisions are made. Not surprisingly recommendations in person are the most common way to give and receive information. However, it is the figures from online activities that really stick out – blogs, forums and rating sites have a very low level of recommendations to the consumer.

The power of peers is the central issue.

Forrester calls this group  the ‘word of mouth consumer’ (WOM) and continue to explain:

While WOM consumers may require some effort to win over initially, over time they display the trust, advocacy, and lasting loyalty crucial to product and service success. These consumers:

itemListen to advertising messages. More than a quarter of WOM adults report that advertisements help them decide what to buy, while less than 10% of non-WOM consumers believe ads deliver helpful advice. WOM consumers also spend slightly more time with media in which these advertising messages appear, including magazines and radio.

itemRespond to marketing messages. Info-sharing adults react to conversations initiated by marketers. More than half of WOM consumers are willing to try new products, compared with less than 30% of non-WOM consumers. Similarly, over one-third of WOM consumers would pay for time-saving products in contrast to only 23% of non-driven consumers.

itemRemain loyal once you land them. Two-thirds of WOM consumers display lasting brand relationships by sticking with initial brands they like. In contrast, only 45% of non-WOM consumers show brand affinity over time.

Understanding that the WOM consumer is so important, marketers must focus their time in ensuring that their message is simple enought so that it can easily be shared in conversations. However, no-one should ever guarantee that a campaign will have viral success. JupiterResearch analyst Nate Elliott once compared creating a viral campaign to catching “lightning in a bottle.” Instead, we should focus on understanding the drivers for WOM. Forrester conclude with their recommendations:

  • Put WOM efforts behind buzz-worthy products.
  • Don’t forget the value of the offline world.
  • Find out who’s talking and measure their influence.
  • Reward WOM influencers and give them more reasons to talk.


2 Responses to “Recommendations – where do they come from?”


  1. 1 Nothing to Declare » links for 2008-01-25
  2. 2 Quantifying the Impact of Social Media: Where the Edelman White Paper Got it Right, Got it Wrong and What We Should Do Next : Ignite Social Media

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