More than a year ago, a group of WOMMA members got together, curious to answer the question, “What is the interaction between online and offline word of mouth?” We knew about the Keller Fay research pointing to the dominance of offline word of mouth and we were living through the social media revolution—personally and professionally. Our hypothesis was that offline word of mouth trickled online and social media found its way to face-to-face conversations.
Our search quickly revealed that few marketers had explored this question. We felt that we would do a great service to the larger WOMMA community by pulling together a bibliography of key studies and publications that explored this topic. In this document, you will find a broad range of studies, including:
· Comparison of online and offline word of mouth (BzzAgent, Brains on Fire, Keller Fay, Peres and Shacha, S. Radoff)
· Offline activities’ impact on social media and search behavior (Cheema, iProspect , Lauren F. Sessions)
· Social media’s impact on offline consumer decisions (Chintagunta et al., Godes and Mayzlin)
In addition, we conducted a survey* among our members to see how they approached the topic and measured online/offline word of mouth. We found out that while they measure both types of conversations separately, a sub-set looks at the impact of online buzz on offline initiatives and vice versa. Among WOMMA members:
- 45% measure online buzz to capture the impact of offline word of mouth campaigns
- 35% measure offline marketing communications’ impact on online word of mouth about brands
We hope that as the word of mouth marketing field matures, marketers find innovative ways to track results across online and offline platforms, and refer to the studies included in our bibliography as guideposts.
I would like to thank Dr. Walter Carl, Brad Fay, Bithika Mehta, Martin Oetting, Tarah Remington, Jasper Snyder, and Jeanie Son for all their contributions and their ongoing dedication to the project. As the online/offline word of mouth committee, we also appreciate WOMMA’s academic advisors’ input.
We present you with the online/offline word of mouth bibliography and invite you to join our conversation. We welcome your feedback and additions.
*Survey results are representative of WOMMA’s member base, and should be used directionally when talking about the broader marketer universe.
** This post has also been published on WOMMA’s All Things WOM blog.