Word-of-mouth face-off: In-person conversation still dominates

CBS CMO George Schweitzer discusses how the network is using social media, plus old-fashioned face-to-face conversation to promote its shows.

Word of mouth has long been one of the most influential forms of marketing in the television business.

Simply put, word of mouth is a valuable recommendation from a trusted and respected friend. Voluminous research has shown that three industries benefit the most from word of mouth: restaurants, movies, and television.

With the addition of social media platforms, the impact and power of once "intangible" word-of-mouth is becoming more pronounced. Practically overnight, a whole industry focused on social media marketing and research has emerged promising brand marketers the ability to propel their businesses forward using these wonderful new tools to harness and influence consumer word of mouth.

CBS

At CBS, we love to connect and engage directly with our viewers through social media on Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other platforms audiences are embracing. Through events like Tweet Week and the upcoming CBS Social Sweep Week, we give our fans a chance to interact with our shows and stars in real time. It's all about enhancing enjoyment of our programs no matter how, when, or where viewers choose to engage with them. At the same time, we remain focused on the fact that the vast majority of conversations about TV shows--both new and returning series--still takes place face-to-face. According to research consultancy Keller Fay, online conversations account for less than 10 percent of word of mouth. So while the water cooler has now gone viral, people talking to people--face-to-face--is still the main driver and truest measure of overall buzz.

Our own CBS research consistently bears this out. More than 90 percent of conversation about new CBS shows this year occurred in person. Day after day, year after year, we strive to make our shows part of people's lives so talking about them comes naturally. However and wherever people are talking about TV, we want to be there.

About the author

    George Schweitzer's position as chief marketing officer at CBS gives him a unique opportunity not only to observe but also to help shape the ways technology is altering the television industry. A communications major at Boston University who joined CBS after graduation some 30 years ago, George is also an unabashed technology geek who specializes in the latest home automation and entertainment gear.

     

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