What is the link between online and offline conversations?

By Ted Wright August 26, 2019

offline conversations

By Ted Wright

We are so immersed in the digital world that it’s easy to assume that it is a mirror image of society – the same conversations must be taking place online versus offline.

But a new study confirms what word of mouth marketers have known all along – the two channels must be treated as unique channels.

Research conducted by Engagement Labs and Kantar shows that conversations across different channels have almost no relationship to one another – what is being said in one sphere is not indicative of what’s happening elsewhere.

Offline conversations are unique

The companies studied online and offline consumer conversations for nearly 400 brands in the UK, looking at four key metrics:

  1. the amount of conversation about a brand;
  2. the number of negative conversations versus positive ones;
  3. how often consumers share a brand’s marketing in their online or offline conversations;
  4. how engaged on- and offline influencers are with a brand.

Across all measures, they found relatively low correlation between online and offline conversations.

Marketers need to treat online and offline chatter as distinct entities, identifying which conversations have the most impact on purchasing decisions for different brands and managing their strategies and budgets accordingly.

In other words, if you have an online “influencer strategy,” you don’t have a word of mouth marketing strategy.

Several studies have shown that online sentiment is not an accurate indicator of true consumer sentiment across a customer population. It’s foolish to base a marketing strategy on social listening data alone!

Of course, we shouldn’t ignore online conversations. They still matter, but marketers need to achieve balance and recognize that conversations online can be very different to what people are saying around the kitchen table.

Ted Wright

Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth. Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com


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