Despite the rapid growth of social media and communities people build around shared interests, word of mouth and influence until further notice predominantly remains an offline matter. The main influencers are family and friends, especially when it matters most.
People still mainly talk to each other about products, companies and experiences in ‘real-life’ and in person.
This does not mean that opinions on social networks, online peer reviews, blogs and all the other ‘social’ digital media have no impact.
Moreover, the opinions and advice of ‘offline’ friends, relatives and acquaintances have a more significant impact on what we buy than the recommendations of ‘online’ friends.
In case you might doubt this, I would like to refer you to a very interesting chart on page 14 of the Fluent report by communication agency Razorfish (see below).
Influencers: changes ahead
The graph shows the role of ‘influencers’ in the marketing funnel, and it clearly demonstrates the crucial impact of close family and friends.
In the ‘action phase’, the most important phase for a company of course, 79% of respondents said that family and friends have a ‘heavy influence’, much more than anonymous peer reviews and independent bloggers, to name just a few other ‘influencers’.
However, the same chart (and the whole report) also shows why we should not ignore social influences on buying behavior – on the contrary…