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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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“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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