This is the fifth in our series of key takeaways from some of the presentations and panel discussions offered at the Social Commerce Summit in May 2008.

Ed Keller, CEO of the Keller Fay Group and author of The Influentials, is an expert on measuring word of mouth.

Based on his research, Ed made six points about America’s word of mouth conversations:

  1. WOM spans categories and industries
  2. WOM is mostly positive (63%)
  3. WOM has impact – people are very likely to believe and pass along recommendations, and customers are more likely to buy or seek additional information because of word of mouth
  4. Customer-based WOM leads to better outcomes – people on the “receiving” side of WOM are more impressed by advice given by a true customer of the brand
  5. Marketing and media are a key part of WOM – nearly half of brand conversations refer to marketing or media (advertisements, etc.)
  6. When it comes to conversation, not all consumers are created equal – 10% of the population (influencers) account for one-third of all WOM

Ed pointed out that there is a misunderstanding that influencers are all elite members of society. In fact, influencers are actually those who tend to both listen and talk a lot. They exist across countries and socioeconomic groups. Influencers are well-connected, well-informed individuals who possess:

  • An active approach to life
  • Enthusiasm for learning and keeping up
  • Connections to many people and groups
  • A clear set of priorities
  • A strong belief in growth & change
  • Impact and the ability to create change

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