Millennials’ prefer face-to-face to social media

Discussion
Sep 22, 2014

Millennials are indeed highly social but it’s not all driven by social media. According to new research from Keller Fay Group, 84 percent of Millennials’ word of mouth (WOM) impressions are the result of offline conversations, primarily face-to-face.

The marketing research firm dedicated to WOM cited its TalkTrack findings from May 2013 to April 2014, which found 71 percent of brand WOM among Millennials takes place face-to-face, followed by the phone, 13 percent. Social media rated only three percent and IM/text, six percent, while e-mail accounted for four percent of WOM conversations.

Keller Fay said Millennials account for a whopping 689 million (WOM) impressions about brands per day and those conversations cover a pretty wide span of categories. For example, Millennials are more than 50 percent more likely than the rest of the population to engage in daily conversations about technology and 25 percent more likely to talk about technology brands. Beyond technology, they are a third more likely to talk about categories such as shopping and retail or media and entertainment.

They are also about 10 percent more likely to discuss media or marketing when they talk about brands than other Americans.

When it comes to what sparks their conversations, digital media is far and away number one, with fully 25 percent of Millennials’ conversations including references to things they have seen on digital media, vs. 19 percent for non-Millennials. For the rest of the public, digital media and television are about equal when it comes to their role in word of mouth conversations.

Magazines, email marketing and radio all play a smaller role in the conversations of Millennials relative to digital media and TV, but they are still talked about in larger numbers by Millennials than by those who are 35+.

"The Millennials are a digital generation and sharing online is a part of their DNA," concluded Keller Fay Group. "But the key is to understand that is just that — "a part" of their DNA; it does not define who they are. They are not singularly committed to communicating via social media."

Interviewing a nationally representative sample of 36,000 Americans ages 13+ each year, TalkTrack measures over 350,000 conversations about brands annually.

What lessons does the Keller Fay Group research offer around how WOM online conversations for Millennials complement offline conversations? What does this mean, in practical terms, for retailers and brands?

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15 Comments on "Millennials’ prefer face-to-face to social media"


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Chris Petersen, PhD
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

The summary by the Keller Fay Group pretty much says it all: “The Millennials are a digital generation and sharing online is part of their DNA.”

Given their preference and amount of time they spend with and on digital media, it is not surprising that they talk more about it. Actually, I was surprised that the WOM stats for Millennials were not higher.

What may be really interesting going forward is how marketers will define WOM. Does WOM actually mean talking to another person? In the case of many Millennials today, they will text each other when they are in the same room rather than get up and have a face-to-face conversation.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

It is nice to know that the lively art of conversation has not yet died with younger generations. I think retailers and brands still have a great opportunity to get personal with shoppers, of all ages, by capturing insights from WOM brand impressions. There are more and more ways to do that, as technology gets more intuitive.

Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

This study should not surprise anyone. When people get together they share experiences and opinions about experiences. The real question is what actions consumers take as a result of those conversations. All of this points to the need for retailers to burnish their brands through excellent customer service, and for the brands to pay attention to and participate in social dialogues with their customers.

Ian Percy
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

Oh, so once we get past all the technological apps, do-dads and gizmos we actually interact as humans. Who knew?

Words are the expression of what’s in our minds and hearts. The closer those words are to the source, the more powerful and influential they are. In a lecture years ago I heard Marshall McLuhan say, “The gospel cannot be preached over a microphone,” which is to say, the more technology we put between the mouth/heart and the ear/mind the less meaningful it will be.

The best book I’ve read on this WOM movement is “Brains On Fire” written by Robbin Phillips, et al. Direct-from-the-source words, she writes, “elevates and empowers people to unite around a common cause, passion, company, brand, or organization.” When people (consumers and employees for example) share their passions, they create “a self-perpetuating force for excitement ideas, communication, and growth.”

The ultimate unifying force in the universe may be the audible and direct human voice.

Don Uselmann
Guest
Don Uselmann
7 years 8 months ago

For me this reinforces the importance of brick-and-mortar in a business model—the need for face-to-face interactions in building trusting relationships. This generation seems more willing to share their experiences. They are more open and direct, and while they seem to have an affinity for social media and the internet, that is just one facet of the value they place on personal relationships best developed face-to-face. Can you really fall deeply in love on the internet alone?

Joan Treistman
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

I think the bottom line lesson from Keller Fay research is, “pay attention to what your target audience is paying attention to,” through whatever means they communicate. In between the lines of this report are insights regarding to what extent we can estimate the dialog (offline and online) between Millennials, or anyone else for that matter. If we are to continually monitor social media without taking into account the proportion of people actually using social media for this purpose, we can over estimate the magnitude of what we see, hear and use as input for marketing and media strategy.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

Millennials are attached to their phones at all times! But they’re also cynical about the ways that social media companies leverage their information. The bigger opportunity is in the Internet of Things, which will create ubiquitous communication to drive custom environments.

Dan Frechtling
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

By apparently focusing on active conversations, this study shows the dominance of classical word-of-mouth. But what’s not as obvious is the impact of passive sharing that social media facilitates.

There are many forms of sharing online beyond conversations. These range from low-involvement activities such as likes, re-tweets, and re-pins to user-generated content such as reviews, comments and selfies.

Digital media amplifies the “ripple effect,” where followers share with followers. Digital social channels create virality in a more rapid way than offline conversations.

Digital media are trackable. And when campaigns and shares can be measured, they can be improved. This even applies to negative word of mouth, allowing customer service to intervene and correct.

I’m not sure this study captures the influence of passive sharing. Mass-market brands like Doritos (#crashthesuperbowl) and upscale brands like Tiffany (Instagram #TiffanyAtlas) are finding passive sharing to be as or more influential than active conversations.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

I have an advantage here. All my students have been Millennials. The study doesn’t surprise me at all. The idea that they don’t talk but just text is for headlines, not for reality.

They talk a lot. They are inquisitive and a bit cynical. They search for answers, because they do not believe what is being fed to them.

They are an interesting generation.

What can retailers and brands do? Be truthful and transparent. Of course, that is near impossible.

Shep Hyken
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if your WOM comes from online or offline. The strategy is for your customers to talk about you in any channel they desire. And, retailers must adapt to whatever channel that is, be it online or face-to-face.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
7 years 8 months ago

I think the social scientist Bonnie Raitt shed some light on this phenomenon when she penned the lyrics: “Let’s give ’em somethin’ to talk about…How about love?” Then again they can share negative-WOM as well….

Tony Orlando
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

Millennial’s may be different, but they do rely on WOM, even if it is on a social platform. All of us in business want good karma from our customers, and believe me, if you screw up, the word gets out there fast. On the other hand, if you go out of your way for someone, the positive flow of WOM is fantastic, which all of us prefer.

Businesses are, more than ever before, dependent on the good works they do, as all generations will respond favorably when a great customer engagement happens. So stay on your toes, as everyone is watching and talking … and it is not about just price.

Karen S. Herman
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

Very interesting research that, in my opinion, reinforces the importance of content curation for brands and retailers. This research supports the fact that Millennials are a digital generation and it also brings up the interesting point that they like to share their brand stories through social media and, more so, through offline conversations.

Better these brand stories begin with visually engaging content curation created by brands and retailers that is further shared through highly visual omni-channel marketing efforts. Millennials are a digital generation that is looking for visual engagement, in all media. Curate great brand content and they will share.

Mark Burr
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

It has always been said “Word of Mouth” is the best form of advertising. There is no difference today with the different mediums and methods of reaching others and formulating what comes out of the mouth.

The same factor remains critical — experience. Word of Mouth is driven by experience, whether that be face to face, digitally, or via the internet.

It is experience, experience, experience.

Gajendra Ratnavel
Guest
7 years 8 months ago

This makes a lot of sense. In person you can describe something much better, it will be a more memorable exchange of information, and one can show and tell.

Internet is also a great medium because of the interactivity, the breadth and depth of information as well as the rich delivery format.

It would be really useful if retailers created very short (30 second) video clips that can be shared on mobile. NCIX is an electronic retailer that does regular product reviews on YouTube but they are lengthy. Still, I find them useful. I would bring it up in face to face conversations more if they had shorter versions or perhaps index them somehow so I can go to specific sections of the review.

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