Posted June 23, 2011 9:36 am by with 4 comments

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Man, I nearly fell on the floor when a study conducted by Google found that in the area of word of mouth, search has more credibility AND is more likely to lead to purchase over social media. Really? The search giant doing a study with that kind kind of result?! Who woulda thunk?!

All kidding aside, though, the study conducted by Google and the KellerFay Group has some interesting information for marketers to consider. The chart below represents this ‘edge’ that search has over social media in the word of mouth game.

You can get more information from the full report here.

One thing I actually do appreciate from Google these days is their continued adeptness in putting information into short form videos. This is a good overview of the findings and may make you a bit more interested in the details of the full report.

OK, so you’re not convinced to look at the full report. Here are the key findings.

  1. Word of Mouth conversations still predominantly take place face to face. 93% of WOM brand impressions occur offline.
  2. The Internet is both the leading spark of WOM conversations and the #1 resource utilized to take action after conversation. Search impacts more than 15% of all Word of Mouth conversations.
  3. Google is the #1 spark of Word of Mouth conversations and the #1 place people turn to after conversations for more information.
  4. Google directly informs 146 million brand conversations a day.
  5. Word of Mouth impressions generated by search are 25% more credible and 17% more likely to lead to purchase than those generated by online social media sites

It comes as little to no surprise that Google did a study that attempts to show the impact of search. I think it’s a good reminder though in the social media whirlwind that we live in day in and day out. The reality is that just like most other things in life, there is no one thing that makes something happen.

People use a variety of methods to make decisions using a combination of tools and resources. Search is going to be an important part of this equation for as long as people need information. The perception of impartiality that search offers is valuable to people. I think we tend to fly overboard on just how much we trust the opinions of others so readily in the online review space.

I know that personally some of the things my best friends love are not of any interest to me no matter what they say about it. In fact, while I trust my friends opinions I don’t always agree with them so, by default, I give little to no credence to acquaintance level recommendations in the social media space. I actually do deeper research through search to gain my own perspective on things and feel better about reaching a decision that works best for me and is not just the result of parroting someone else. By hey, that’s just me.

So how do you view the role of search in the word of mouth game? Are these findings fair in your estimation? Let us know in the comments!

  • I think that social and search are working more closely together than ever. Let’s say your friend posts something to Facebook about this great lunch place they found. So you head over to Google to find the restaurant’s site. You check out the menu, read a couple reviews on Yelp and think you might try it one day. Social introduced you to this restaurant, search gave you more reasons to go. Not only did you friend like it, but so did 27 other people. Those are pretty good odds that you’ll like it too.

  • @Nick – Yea the more signals you get the better. That’s why search will allow folks to step away from their influencer social media crew and make a decision that is less peer ‘pressured’ and more comfortable for the person.

  • Search and social are now interlnked. Search becomes increasingly more powerful as a result of social search engine marketing. To contrast one against another is not the way of the future.

  • When I’ve read who made the study, my first impression was that Google is just trying to convince people that search engines are better in driving traffic that converts – so they would be better off using Google Adwords to help. Most likely, a self-promotion disguised under the veils of statistics. Yet, it somehow makes sense as there are plenty of spam or bot accounts on social networking sites and when you are searching to buy a product online, you don’t type in a search in Facebook; you use Google. It’s plain simple, I guess.