Social thinking


2.8 billion people will be regular users of social channels by 2018.

That’s 1 in 3 people on the planet.

Already we share 30 billion items a month on Facebook alone.

500 million tweets are sent every day.

6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every month.

600 million more people own a mobile phone (4.8 billion) than a toothbrush (4.2 billion).

And this is just the start.

The fast-emerging Internet of Things will make our lives even more instrumented, even more connected.

But for marketers, social change represents more than a new way to reach people. It heralds a change in the relationship people have with brands, and media, and most fundamental of all, in the way people make decisions about what to try, and what to buy.


Word of mouth has always had the greatest influence on consumer purchase decisions.

Now it’s available on demand, at any time of the day, for any product or service, at the touch of a screen.

Claims made in advertising are being shouted down by the real-time shared experiences of users.

The Deloitte 2014 Global Survey reveals that two-thirds of all consumers read an online review before making purchasing decisions.

92% of us prefer to learn about new products & services from friends and colleagues we know and trust.

In a world where everyone has the means to shape and share their own story about how well a product does, or doesn’t perform, it’s no surprise to learn that brands with the highest levels of customer advocacy enjoy significantly greater revenue growth than competitors who are less recommended.


So what does all of this mean?

Re-engineering your business as a social enterprise? Abandoning ATL media?

Maybe one day. But not yet.

Over a 10-year history of word of mouth marketing and social brand building two learnings stand out:

  1. Social as a stand-alone activity doesn’t work nearly as well as when it’s fully integrated into both the marketing mix and customer decision journey.
  2. ATL investment performs significantly better when it is complemented with the voice of the customer.

After seeing your ad people may go to your website to find out more about your product. But they’ll visit Facebook to discover more about the experience of people who use it. And they’ll talk to each other before making a decision about whether to buy it.

Modern marketing is no longer just about the construction of stories about things. To be effective, it also needs to embrace the story of experiences – the everyday moments of truth that are relayed in the billions of comments, posts, pictures, videos and conversations that are shared everyday.

This is social.
This is advocacy.
This is the path to ROI.

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