Did Social Media Replace Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

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Despite advancements in technology which affect the way people do business word-of-mouth remains the most effective sales lead generation method and the most influential source of information in a buyer’s decision making process. The reason for this is simple – consumers take advice from people they know. According to a 2012 Nielsen Survey on “Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages”, 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth, particularly recommendations from family and friends, above all other sources.

With the advent of social media, marketers found a more extensive approach to “spreading the word” and generating business leads. People go to social networking sites to find information, connect with potential customers, get advice, or to simply tell their friends about a new product they discover.

So, is social media the new word-of-mouth marketing like many people say?

The answer is “No”.

Here are a couple of reasons why.

  1. Social media communication is not verbal or face-to-face communication; word-of-mouth is which makes it more personal and highly credible.
  2. Word-of-mouth is necessary in building meaningful relationships both on digital and physical channels. Building that kind of relationship with sales leads using Facebook or Twitter alone can be complicated.

The reason people think social media has replaced word-of-mouth marketing is the fact that the former is often used improperly in B2B lead generation campaigns. While it is faster than other methods in reaching more people, social interactions cannot effectively replace face-to-face engagements. Rather it should be used to increase word-of-mouth activity by inspiring and stimulating people to communicate offline.