Verbal word of mouth and search the main ways for people to discover videos online

A study that shows the limits of social media in helping people discover new content – but also shows the importance of online editorial endorsement  – comes from Knowledge Networks in the US (via Digital Media) .

Viewers were asked how they discover new content and how they decide what to watch, both for TV and online video.   For online video, social media from strangers ranked seventh in terms of recommendations, with verbal word of mouth (41%) and search (32%) coming top.

In other words, even on the Internet people are most likely to be directed to stuff that someone’s told them about face to face.

For regular TV, TV advertising is actually the prime source of content discovery at 46% – who said commercials were dead!  However, social media from strangers only scored 6%.   Meanwhile, just as they are for online videos, verbal recommendations are key in helping people find out about offline TV shows (38%)

Conclusions: Concentrate on online PR, and a search + social media strategy
So is the conclusion that a social media and online engagement strategy is largely a waste of time, and you might as well put your cash into both TV and search ads?  Hardly.

First of all, it’s obvious that even if someone tells you about a great new viral face to face they must have heard or read about it somewhere else.   As always off and online word of mouth have to very much work in tandem.

Secondly, stories or reviews on the Internet ranked highly (27%) in terms of helping people find out about new online videos.   In other words just as you would offline, editorial endorsement online from major blogs and news sources (the lines between the two are blurred anyway) works.

Finally, the Knowledge Networks study shows the effectiveness of search when it comes to helping people discover online video.

However if your social media and search strategy works together then search ends up being even more effective.   That’s shown by an earlier Comscore study that said that people exposed to both what they called “influenced social” and paid search had 233% heavier search behaviour.

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