The Future is Looking Bright for Social Networking and Word of Mouth Marketing

By Susanna Lee

glhfIt’s no surprise that marketing budgets will continue to shift towards better ways to engage and reach consumers as this recession begins to subside. Continue with building better brand equity and not only will consumers remember you but feel a connection and loosen up pockets as more money begins to come in. This is also why marketers are planning on increasing their media, social networking/word-of-mouth and innovation and testing/learning budgets once the recession ends and the recovery begins.

The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) recently released a study showing the future shifts in different marketing initiatives with reduction in:

  • Media budgets (56 percent)
  • Production budgets (50 percent)
  • Sponsorship/events activities (41 percent)

The activities most likely to be maintained throughout the recession include:

  • Research and development (47 percent)
  • Public relations (42 percent)
  • Innovation/test/learn budgets (33 percent)
  • Promotion activities (33 percent)

The activities most likely to be increased in the current economic environment are:

  • Pricing deals (47 percent)
  • Social networking and word of mouth activities (26 percent)
  • Public relations efforts (23 percent)

These increased activities reflect the real need and understanding from marketers that brand equity comes from emphasis on consumer relationship building. Of course the actual product is the main item for brand equity (89 percent) but customer service (86 percent) and employee advocacy (81 percent) are just as critical. Customer service is where consumers turn to get straight away answers and know that there is always a tangible representative available on hand when questions and problems arise. Give them the assurance that they will get a response, coupled with strong employee advocacy, and will have a brand that will last even through the rough times.

With this realization, customer-related metrics is also being deemed more important with increased attention on:

  • Customer conversion/repeat rates (78 percent, as compared to 70 percent in February 2007)
  • The percentage of customers who rate a brand as “excellent” (77 percent, as compared to 68 percent in February 2007)
  • Net Promoter Scores (73 percent as compared to 67 percent in February 2007)

Sure, this recession has got us thinking of happier times but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s looking good for us word of mouth marketers. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or tweet me about happy thoughts @Su_Lee.

  • eCairn

    Thanks for this analysis.

    It’s interesting that a big portion of the activities that are likely to increase are on the “qualitative” side of marketing i.e

    - innovation and test
    - wom, social networking
    - relationship building

    usually requires repetitive conversations and quality information.