"What is social media and how can it build my brand?" This is a question that many small business owners still struggle to answer.
But a new study into word of mouth aims to highlight how not only social media but all communication channels are used by consumers who discuss brands on a daily basis.
The TalkTrack Britain study is an ongoing measurement programme by the Keller Fay Group and early results from the research have just been released.
It was discovered that the typical consumer in the UK discusses about ten brands daily, with the majority of conversations positive about the companies in question.
About a third of conversations involve active recommendations by individuals to their friends, families and acquaintances, suggesting they bought or tried a product or service from a particular brand.
Two-thirds of brand conversations are mainly positive, with food/dining and media/entertainment the most discussed topics among consumers.
Eight in ten conversations about brands still happen face to face, but ten per cent of consumers discuss products and services over the phone and nine per cent use social networking sites, texts or emails.
While social media seems to make up a small proportion of word of mouth discussion according to the TalkTrack study, it appears to be a growing segment.
Word of mouth is still the main source of new customers for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), US research by American Express Open found earlier this year.
Some 82 per cent of new business was generated thanks to referrals, with the reality of social media as a channel for effective word of mouth promotion becoming increasingly evident.
The Small Business Search Marketing Survey discovered social media is the preferred online marketing channel for SMEs after their company website.
More than four in ten businesses had social media strategies, while 35 per cent made use of email newsletters, 28 per cent used search engine optimisation and just 12 per cent had blogs as part of their content strategy.
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