I find myself looking more often for reviews as I look for things I need to buy. And I’m routinely trying to read through the reviews, or between the lines, to weed out the in-house hype reviews on the one hand, and the raging angry maniac on the other.

Thanks on this topic to Jackie Huba of the Church of the Customer Blog for her post earlier this month sharing results of a study on word of mouth pass-along among adults. That’s on Online vs. offline word of mouth. She has some detailed statistics on word of mouth, quotes on research, and some good comments on available research. She notes that adults who conduct a lot of online research are much more likely to share results — facts and opinions — than those who don’t.

She also notes some conflicting results, and adds more flavor with her own additional comments. For example, she cites a Keller Fay study that says:

… 75% of word of mouth occurs in person, 17% on the phone, and just 7% online using instant messages, chat rooms, email and blogs.

That study apparently gets substantially different results from a study conducted by BIG research, which indicates a lot more online behavior. I like the skeptical addition, such as:

Here’s what I consider a flaw with that thinking: The frame of credibility. Being credible isn’t dependent solely upon the medium in which a recommendation occurs. Credibility comes from an established position of trust, whether it’s in-person or online, or from a preponderance of independent evidence, such as a collection of reviews on a product site like Amazon.

This is a good post on an important topic, with good data as well.

Tim Berry
President
Palo Alto Software

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