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Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers say that direct and personal communication with a company’s online brand representative is preferable to ads or promotional materials from the company, according to research conducted by OTX Research on behalf of DEI Worldwide.

The word-of-mouth marketing research study, “The Impact of Social Media on Purchase Behavior,” (pdf)? also finds that 63% of consumers say they would like to personally share their opinions online about a brand or product with such a representative, and 67% of consumers are likely to pass along information from a brand representative to other people.

Additional survey findings:

  • 54% of consumers say information from a company’s brand representative who directly interacts with them online is more valuable than information they find on companies’ websites.
  • 57% of consumers are likely to take action based on the information from a brand representative, such as shop at the retailer or buy the product.
  • The top categories that consumers search for online information about are electronics/telecommunications, entertainment and travel.


  • Consumers rely on social media websites as much as company websites for product information, and 70% of consumers have visited a social media website such as message board, social network, instant messenger, blog, video sharing site or chat room in order to get information about a company, brand or product.


The survey also discovered that people who search for information exclusively via social media websites are more likely to spread the word. More than one-third of consumers have passed along information found online, and among those, six out of 10 used social media websites to pass along the information. Nearly three-quarters (74%) said that most of the information they passed along was positive.


“These findings are particularly interesting because they support what we have been saying all along, that word of mouth is a valuable marketing tool that should be combined with traditional media to create an integrated marketing strategy,” said Lou Cuming, CEO of DEI Worldwide.

About the survey: The research was conducted by OTX among a national sample of 500 men and women, age 13+.

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