CAMBRIDGE: Brands should aim to leverage employee-organised real-life events to generate online word-of-mouth, new analysis has suggested.

Forrester Research figures show that US web users generate 500 billion impressions when they discuss products and services on social media sites, in blogs, discussion forums and on review pages.

The firm used Peer Influence Analysis to establish that 2,841 impressions are received per online consumer per year.

Forrester monitored how often respondents talked about products and services publicly online, as well how many followers they have.

From this data, the number of people reading these comments was calculated.

Meanwhile, Nielsen Online figures show that, for the 12 months ending September 2009, online advertising achieved just under 2 trillion impressions.

Advertisers are therefore delivering four online impressions for every one online impression internet users make on one another.

An antidote to this trend could be found in a brand encouraging its own employees to spread word of mouth messages to each other as a form of marketing.

One positive example of this is the innovation of Scott Monty, head of Ford social media, who recruited one hundred 'friends' from social networking sites to drive the new Fiesta for a few months prior to the car's official release.

The YouTube videos made of the real-life test drives were watched seven million times, with four million people reading the tweets.

Ultimately, 100,000 consumers who were exposed to this activity requested further information, while 4,000 individuals signed up to buy the car.

Another word of mouth success story is the "tweet-up" for American hockey fans in which Mike DiLorenzo, director of corporate communications for the NHL, saw an opportunity for building positive associations.

He not only allowed the organisers to meet in the NHL store in midtown Manhattan, but arranged food from McDonald's and beer from Bud Light to be delivered to them.

USA Today commented on the hugely positive impression the event made - not only on the attendees, but on their 21,336 followers.

Data Sourced from Forbes; additional content by WARC staff.