Face-to-Face Still Trumps Facebook

October 29, 2011 Blog 4 comments

According to the latest post on Church of the Customer, the most important platform for consumers to talk about brands isn’t on Facebook, Google +, Twitter or even SMS! Rather, it is good old person-to-person communication in the flesh (well at least in the US).

Have a look at this chart here from eMarketer:

Source: eMarketer.com>

I wonder if the same is true here in geeky gadget crazy Asia (or more precisely, Singapore) where we’re almost perpetually tethered to our smart phones.

From my own observation, it is more likely for us to talk about brands face-to-face or over the phone than on email (which is often for more officious stuff). We’re also pretty huge on yakking about brands on forums, particularly specific interest group based ones like Hardwarezone.com, Cozycot, and Kiasu Parents.com. As for SMS or WhatsApp, I find that these are more for person to person communications with hardly any chats on brands.

What does this tell us then about our marketing communication strategies?

The simple answer is that there isn’t any.

To reach your target customers, employ a mixture of methods from targeted advertisements, email invitations, Facebook invites, Tweets, to good old fashioned events (roadshows, meetings, product showcases). Employing cross platform marketing channels is a good practice as it leads to greater brand exposure and reinforcement.

Also, don’t neglect the power of the spoken word. In an age of visual clutter, going audio may sometimes work in your favour. However, only call potential customers when they’ve indicated some levels of interest in your product or service (eg by registering on your website for instance).

What do you think?

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. I recently returned from Hong Kong.

    Comparatively speaking, Singaporeans are more glued to their gadgets than face-to-face interaction. Even in restaurants, most people in HK are talking to each other. It is not uncommon to see Singapore people, even couples, busy messing around with their gadgets than real FULL TIME face-to-face. If you ask the Singaporeans, I don’t think we understand what face-to-face really means. My friends often reply messages or what not while having a meal with me.

  2. Of course F2F is more important. Marketing channels were invented because of the inherent limitations of F2F meetings–time, and reach.

    This is something commission-based sales personnel and entrepreneurs know very well. Networking is their lifeblood. I suspect your observation that our population’s predilection for online/mobile communications is related to the fact that most people here are salaried, and not entrepreneurs.

    As for marketing strategy, I could be biased but it seems that skillsets are quite polarised. Those that market F2F can’t articulate themselves in social media, much less blog. Those who do social media tend to rely on it too much–the political party SDP comes to mind.

  3. Hi Wilfrid,

    You are right about the phenomenon of peering into mobile devices. It does seem characteristic of Singaporeans and I wonder why. In many developed Western countries that are technocentric, mobiles are used more for occasional communication.

    I wonder if we’re more similar culturally to the Japanese and Koreans? I do see them peering into their mobile devices quite a bit during train rides.

  4. Hi Kok Hong,

    You raised a very good point about the polarisation of skillsets. Its the same argument with broadcast versus print journalists. Being a great writer doesn’t mean that you’ll look good or speak well on TV, and vice versa.

    One of the issues I see in this chasm is that younger Gen Y or Gen Z employees are having difficulty in convincing their older bosses or clients. Without a firm grasp of visual and verbal communications, they find it hard to push a point forward while dancing the dance of negotiation.

    Face to face is quite different from social media channels. You can use 140 characters to tweet, update what you’re doing directly on Facebook, or give little soundbites every now and then. However, speaking to somebody in the flesh requires a whole lot more protocol and procedure.

    Hmmm… may be worth a separate blog post by itself!

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