Marketers believe that social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram drive consumers to engage with brands and make purchase decisions as platform use grows.
Active users on Twitter increased 11 percent year over year, and Facebook's users increased 18 percent. However, most consumers continue to look to their peers for face-to-face advice and recommendations about their favorite brands, impacting their purchase decisions.
The company's solution combines social media listening metrics and offline conversations into a dashboard for marketers to measure performance
The report highlights patterns in online and offline activities that made a difference to brand engagement. One brand in the report, BMW, markets its product to luxury consumers and key sponsorships.
It is now one of the highest performing US brands in face-to-face, word-of-mouth marketing. The TotalSocial auto industry average score is 41, whereas BMW scores 58.
Another brand, sports drink producer Gatorade, fosters engagement by encouraging people to discuss their favourite sports teams. It also encourages them to share motivational content about athletic performance.
The TotalSocial beverage industry average score is 40. However, Gatorade scores 55.
These "Category Crusher Brands" outperform their competitors in social media performance and offline word-of-mouth recommendations. Also Included amongst the Category Crushers are American Express, Nordstrom, Kellogg's, and Dove.
Consumers use social media for a variety of reasons. However, face-to-face, word-of-mouth recommendations among family and friends are key to decision-making before purchasing.
Real-world conversations about brands dwarfs conversations on social media, often by a factor of five to one, according to Engagement Labs' word-of-mouth tracking data.
The impact on sales from offline conversation is greater than the impact of social media, according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.
Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs, said: "You don't have to be a hot tech company like Apple or Amazon to excite people about your brand and generate consumer conversations that drive sales.
The Category Crushers cited in our report understand that 'social influence' goes beyond a screen - and the consumer conversations they generate and amplify in-person can make a bigger boost to their overall social performance than those occurring exclusively on social media."
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