According to the latest Audiweb data (July 2014) in Italy as many as 38 million (78.9%) people declared that they access the Internet from any place and instrument.
The monthly online audience is equal to 28 million single users, with an increase of 7.3% compared with the same period of last year. In an average day, 13.3 million users go online, 9.2% more than the previous year, connected on average for 1 hour and 19 minutes, consulting 136 pages per person.
With Internet becoming an accepted part of daily life and with its development in participation with Web 2.0, there has been a predominant growth above all in the so-called Consumer-Generated Media (CGM), informal resources characterised by a strong level of interactivity, such as forums, blogs, newsgroups, wiki and social networks. CGMs have an incredible ability to create communities on an argument, bringing together people who rely on each other and exchange opinions and advice.
CGMs, more than traditional digital media and institutional sites, have a major influence over public opinion in terms of people, brands or specific products and services of a company, because:
- they are vertical, and therefore have an influence on individual sectors of interest;
- they are less controllable;
- all contents are linked or re-adopted by a CGM, re-proposed by aggregators, indexed by search engines and spread quickly in an exponential way, by blogs and forums.
The word of mouth or buzz, i.e. the online message passed by word of mouth, is an extremely powerful vehicle for spreading information: if you just think that any one of us has, on average, 10 constant contacts, 150 frequent ones and up to 1500 occasional ones, you can imagine the significance of the network on the information we obtain.
As if that wasn’t enough, statistics tell us that 92% of people consider buzz to be the most reliable source of information when choosing styles of life and purchases and 67% of all consumer purchases are influenced by buzz.
Positive buzz is the best marketing tool because it is promoted by the satisfied user himself. In the same way, a negative on-line buzz can have devastating consequences due to the fact that it is constantly amplified. If for example, only one user is unhappy with the product/services and shares his (personal) negative experience on the web, this is “amplified”, linked to other sites and indexed by search engines.