PALO ALTO, California: Members of Facebook, the social network, have more conversations about brands than the typical US consumer, be it on the web or offline, a new study has found.

An increasing number of advertisers are attempting to utilise social media in an effort to engage with their target audience, with Dell and Starbucks said to be among the most successful in achieving this aim to date.

The Keller Fay Group, the consultancy, assesses over 350,000 pieces of marketing-related "buzz" each year, with its data covering everything from personal to online interactions.

As part of this process, it regularly interviews a panel of 36,000 Americans, via its Talk Track service, and the firm has now used this data to assess Facebook's roll in building brands.

Overall, it found that members of the portal had an average of 36% more brand-focused conversations a week than the typical US consumer.

This applied to a broad range of categories, and included an uptick of 47% for children's products, 46% for retail and apparel, and 43% for technology brands.

Similarly, WOM levels climbed by 42% for the media and entertainment, personal care and travel segments, and by over 30% for food, beverage and telecoms goods.
Automotive, financial services, health and household products also saw totals rise by between 20% and 27% among this cohort.

Moreover, the New Brunswick-based organisation asserted that netizens who use Facebook were 67% more likely to qualify as "word of mouth influencers".

Perhaps more surprisingly, the majority of brand-based conversations were found to take place face-to-face, rather than through digital channels.

In all, Keller Fay said that 77% of such discussions occurred in person, compared with 14% on the phone, 4% via instant messages or SMS, and 1% for online chat, blog and social networking sites.

As such, Ed Keller, ceo of the word-of-mouth research specialist, argued there is a need to "recast" the role of social media, as it is not clear that "there is a pent up demand to 'friend' or 'fan' lots of brands."

"The evidence is clear that audiences like Facebook's will talk – both offline and online – sharing stories about truly remarkable experiences," he added. 

"Brands need to appreciate what stimulates and motivates these people to talk, and then determine what they can do to deliver those experiences - or sponsor them."

Data sourced from MediaBiz/Marketing Charts; additional content by Warc staff