There is an Offline

“Word of mouth is more targeted.”

I am fascinated by Jonah Berger’s book I am currently reading called Contagious, where he talks about why things catch on. Why do some things go viral and some don’t? It’s a good book to complement The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell, of which I thoroughly enjoyed reading as well.

One thing that struck me is the answer to the question: what percent of word of mouth occurs online? If you’re like me you may guess a large number, perhaps even above 50%. Berger highlights research by Keller Fay Group that only 7% of word-of-mouth occurs online. Wait, what?!

If you think about it however, this makes sense. We (society) may spend a lot of time online, but it’s not 24/7. The average person spends a few hours a day on social media, but there are 24 hours in a day. Comparatively, those few hours are not much in the bigger picture. Top off the fact that just because people are online doesn’t mean they are consuming your content or talking about it.—Yep, people are not waiting at the edge of their seat for your next social media ad to appear in their feed. Shocking I know.

“We tend to overestimate online word of mouth because it’s easier to see.”

It’s easy to get hung up on “numbers”, the analytics that social media “tools” provide us. However, be careful here because it’s dangerous to get hung up only on things that can be seen without inserting perspective on what is not as quantitative.

Companies still grew when social media didn’t exist in the past. There still is an offline world. Just take a look at Seth Godin, the best-selling author of 18 books alongside admirable work in entrepreneurship and marketing. Aside from his daily blog, he doesn’t use social media channels. He doesn’t need it and is doing just fine.

Makes you think.

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