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Word-of-mouth social media: 'likes' and 'follows' very important for branding

By Daniel Kosir |

Long before the emergence of the internet, brands everywhere understood the importance of word-of-mouth recommendations. One satisfied customer would tell five friends, who in turn would tell five friends, so on and so forth. With consumers now able to "like" or "follow" brands or companies on social media platforms, does the same still hold true?

The results of a recent Ipsos Loyalty poll indicates that it is. Conducted in early May with online Canadians, the poll illustrates that the importance of positive commentary on brands does indeed extend to the social networks that Canadians use.

Almost half (49 per cent) of Canadians are either strongly (5 per cent) or somewhat (44 per cent) influenced by brand or product recommendations made by members of their social networks.
The survey also found that being "liked" or promoted within a social network is critical, with 41 per cent of respondents stating they are influenced when people in their networks "like" or promote a brand or product.

Significantly, the highly sought after 18-34 demographic is influenced more strongly by social network recommendations (56 per cent) than are those aged 55+ (40 per cent). This is also true of the influence of being "liked," with 46 per cent of those 18-34 saying it is influential versus 34 per cent of those 55 and over.

"These results show that social networks influence impressions and ultimately the bottom line," says Dave Pierzchala, VP of Ipsos Loyalty. "For younger Canadians the importance of being 'liked' is the generational equivalent of being 'recommended at the backyard BBQ.'"

Are you following?

Almost half (48 per cent) of all Canadians with an online social network "follow" or "like" at least one brand, with younger Canadians being more apt to do so.

  • 6 in 10 online Canadians aged 18-34 follow at least one brand and on average follow five
  • 30 per cent of online Canadians aged 55+ follow a brand and on average only follow one

However, social network users are also known to sever ties occasionally, with 28 per cent of online Canadians saying they have "unliked" or stopped "following" a brand or company. Again, the number of younger Canadians who have stopped liking a brand (41 per cent) is higher than their older online counterparts (15 per cent). The most common reason cited for retracting a "like" or "follow" is a loss of interest, at 55 per cent.

"Brands and products cannot assume that once a consumer befriends their organization that they will be friends for life," says Pierzchala. "To be successful, organizations must work on their virtual relationships as hard as they work on their face-to-face ones."

For advice on how to successfully leverage your brand or product via social media, check out our archive of social media articles and guides.

The full release of results and methodology used to conduct the poll can be accessed at the Ipsos website.

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