Not as far as you might expect.
Ten thousand years ago we didn’t have mobile phones. We didn’t have televisions, newspapers, electricity, cars, heck; we didn’t even have a fully established language. Yet this was the start of word of mouth, and equally important, the start of social influence. The medium may have been hieroglyphics, cave art, or even simple grunts; but nonetheless, this became the core of sharing information.
Fast forward a good few centuries, and now we see the introduction of mass media. The first successful form being the Printing Press in the 1400s. This sudden uptake of literacy and education shifted the structure of society as we were now able to receive the opinions of people we had never even met. But even after this literary revolution, the opinions of those around us remained the most reliable form of socialising – especially where advice was sought.
In 2015, when considering a new cell phone, holiday destination, or restaurant to try; you’re going to consult those around you – and no matter what you see online, the opinions of your friends (IRL and online ones) will have more leverage than you’re probably willing to admit. This is also why we choose to surround ourselves with people that share our sentiments and beliefs – we know they will verify the answers we need when in doubt instead of challenge our preferences too much.
The same can be said for social media. We like the social brand pages that represent what we do. They mirror our desires. But at the end of the day, people trust and listen to people, not things.
Word of mouth has always been the most effective and trusted form of communication in terms of brands, products, and recommendations. It was 600 years ago, and it still is today. We turn to each other first, whether that’s cave men grunting or asking via Twitter – it is people before brands.
So how do you get your brand heard online? Personification. A friend that talks with you, not at you. A consistent voice that serves not only their needs but your own. Share stories that evoke some kind of emotion. The medium is irrelevant if your audience is there. And if a certain place, product or service is mentioned through the trust you’ve built- you may just have yourself a customer.
Written by Wendy Tayler