A coffee shop is a place where I go with friends to relax, to have conversations, to catch up about their lives and to drink coffee (yes in that order). For me the digital version of that coffee shop is Facebook. A place where I go to see my friends’ pictures and to have conversations about their lives. The hype about people wanting to engage with brands, wanting to talk about brands, I just don’t see it on my Facebook feed.
Bottom line, people are far less likely to recommend brands to each other in social media because of the perceived ‘social risk’ social media recommendations entail (‘social risk’ = risk to your public image and reputation if your recommendation sucks). People don’t recommend (often) on Facebook because Facebook recommendations are public, written and broadcast (in contrast to the private, oral, and personalised one-to-one recommendations of traditional word of mouth).
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense – you might make a private personal recommendation to a friend, depending on their particular needs, but would you make a blanket public recommendation to everyone you know, without knowing their needs?
The implications for digital (and traditional) marketing are key
1) Digital (and traditional) marketing should get back to focusing on stimulating traditional word of mouth (via content that gives people the reasons and language to recommend) – private one-t0-one recommendations
2) Digital (and traditional) marketing should focus on stimulating expert recommendations and direct peer-to-peer, rather than “social” recommendations.