Will advertising lose the war against word of mouth?

With the influence of word of mouth marketing at an all time high, has the increased use of social media and community feedback rendered most traditional advertising somewhat annoying?
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Let's hope so!

Now I know we are all on infographic overload right now, however I promise this will be my last post with an over-sized elongated image filled with stats and numbers put together to make an industry point. This one here has some numbers that to me are not shocking, and to social media professionals that know what they are doing, should help prove that our facet of business and the effort we put into social is making an impact.

Here are some of my thoughts on what you are seeing here: "9 in 10 word of mouth about brands occur offline." This to me reinforces the value of genuine conversation with our peers. I would not be surprised if this ratio has been holding steady for the last decade. The bottom line is that consumers go to their peers (real carbon-based life forms that they know) for the truth or at least as a primary influence of the truth.

When it comes to driving purchasing decisions, "54% word of mouth, 47% information from a website, %42 email sent by a friend, 31% online review." While I'm bit surprised that the word of mouth percentage isn't higher (probably because I am often operating within the social media microcosm), it does prove that a customer purchase is more thoughtful and personal than aggressive advertisers would like to think. Thank goodness. "59% of Americans believe offline word of mouth is highly credible, 49% believe online is." I'm a natural skeptic with fifteen years experience dealing with the manipulative side of business/marketing practices on the web so I lean toward offline credibility more. Here, I am happy to see that consumers are hopefully trusting brands and their messages more because the intrinsic benefit of a public feedback forum (the internet) has finally taken it's toll on brands that make terrible products, forcing them to improve or lose.

With holiday shopping starting off big already, it will be interesting to see these numbers after this year's holiday season shop-fest. What do you think?

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