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The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace

The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace

5.0 6
by Ed Keller, Brad Fay

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Winner of the American Marketing Association’s Berry-AMA prize

In 1848 gold was discovered in California, setting off a frenzy that sent men and women from across the American continent flocking to the West Coast in search of fortune. The Gold Rush brought wealth to some, but most left empty-handed.

Today, marketing



Winner of the American Marketing Association’s Berry-AMA prize

In 1848 gold was discovered in California, setting off a frenzy that sent men and women from across the American continent flocking to the West Coast in search of fortune. The Gold Rush brought wealth to some, but most left empty-handed.

Today, marketing consultants Ed Keller and Brad Fay say social media is unleashing a new kind of frenzy. Blinded by the shiny allure of sites like Facebook and Twitter, companies are spending billions, pinning their hopes on social media marketing without appreciating how social influence truly functions in the marketplace. That’s where Keller and Fay come in.

For the past six years, they have undertaken a unique, ongoing study of consumer conversations. The surprising result? Over 90 percent of consumer conversations still take place offline, primarily face to face. The implication is clear: Social media is big and growing, but it is dwarfed by the real world in which people live and interact.

Make no mistake. There is a hugely important social wave rolling across the world of business today. New scientific evidence reveals that we humans are fundamentally social beings for whom social influence determines nearly every decision we make. And the greatest impact comes when those conversations happen face to face, as emotions and nonverbal cues are communicated along with words.

In The Face-to-Face Book, Keller and Fay offer key insights and recommendations for how businesses, both large and small, can best succeed in today’s socially motivated consumer marketplace by looking at how consumers act in real life as well as online. The authors share their extensive research and the stories of companies—large, such as Apple, General Mills, Kimberly–Clark, and Toyota, as well as innovative small businesses—that have hit pay dirt with a balanced and holistic approach to social marketing. They also discuss those that have bet big and lost by overcommitting to online social media alone.

The Face-to-Face Book does not overlook the extraordinary growth and importance of social media, which offers important new tools for businesses of all kinds; however, the authors caution against placing too grand a bet on online social media at the expense of other forms of social marketing.

This book is a celebration of the supremely social nature of all human beings and how that drives the consumer marketplace. It’s a story that will leave you thinking anew, and talking.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Marketing experts Keller and Fay, of the Keller Fay Group, argue that the move toward electronic social networking does not—and cannot—replace good old word-of-mouth. Using numerous examples and case histories of successes and failures, Keller (coauthor of The Influentials) and Fay focus on the “social” in social media, and suggest that producing conversations, interactions, and social influence should be the objective of marketing. Add to that an understanding of the degree to which we are social species and have a “social style of decision making,” and businesses should be able to find their proper method to produce concrete results. The authors explain that businesses must focus on the real-life conversations and interactions consumers have, since, once ignited, these interactions have a dramatic economic impact. Though Keller and Fay’s heavily academic tone might scare off some readers, the authors offer ideas that marketing professionals ought not to ignore. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (May)
From the Publisher
"Marketing experts Keller and Fay, of the Keller Fay Group, argue that the move toward electronic social networking does not—and cannot—replace good old word-of-mouth. Using numerous examples and case histories of successes and failures, Keller (coauthor of The Influentials) and Fay focus on the 'social' in social media, and suggest that producing conversations, interactions, and social influence should be the objective of marketing. The authors offer ideas that marketing professionals ought not to ignore."
Publishers Weekly

"The Face-to-Face Book is another don’t-miss-it read. . . . [T]he detailed examples will hammer home the duo’s main point, over and over: All media is social media. Insights about what makes brands talk-worthy, the role of positive and negative word-of-mouth, rethinking your brand’s influential, and the best routes to earned and owned media are straightforward and helpful."

"Finally, a book that shows the full picture of the impact of the word of mouth and marketing done right—both offline and online. Keller and Fay's critical finding is that 90 percent of conversations still happen offline, and that those conversations are more positive and more credible than conversations that happen in social media. One of the most important messages, to me, is that we need to think about social consumers and what motivates them. This means finding out the stories that people tell (online and offline) and where our brands fit; target the right conversations and build relationship with advocates. Social marketing is about people, not technology."
Huffington Post

"Everyone who's on the social-media-is-the-future bandwagon should get off for a minute and read this book."
—Chuck Porter, Chairman, Crispin Porter + Bogusky

"Ed Keller and Brad Fay have tapped into the secret of becoming a must-have brand: It's the word you spread in the real, rather than virtual, world that matters."
—Jean Chatzky, financial editor of NBC's Today show and bestselling author of Make Money, Not Excuses

"See why despite the hype, social media is not always so shiny and definitely not so new. The Face-to-Face Book is the real word-of-mouth book."
—Jon Bond, CEO of Big Fuel and cofounder of Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners

"Word-of-mouth is a topic all businesses should understand, and no one has better data on consumers' face-to-face conversations than Ed Keller and Brad Fay. Before you jump on the social media bandwagon, be sure to read this book."
—Jonah Berger, Marketing Professor, The Wharton School

"This book is approachable and immediately applicable for the marketer who wants to understand the new consumer landscape. Keller and Fay shine a well-documented light on a new marketing model that reimagines social media and word-of-mouth at the center of a marketing mix. The book is filled with examples that inspire and demonstrate the link to business results."
—Mark Addicks, SVP / Chief Marketing Officer, General Mills

"In a world being reshaped by technology, customers crave a sense of humanity—companies that exude a sense of values, brands that engage emotionally. In this important and timely book, Ed Keller and Brad Fay remind marketers, executives, and innovators of all kinds that the best way to get people talking about what you offer is to offer them something worth talking about. Yes, the Internet is changing everything. But if you want to make your organization more memorable, make it more human."
—William C. Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company,author of Practically Radical

“A timely reminder from two of the most influential minds in business that creating real relationships requires more than counting likes and shares. For brands that want to avoid chasing the latest social media trend and harness the power of a face-to-face relationship—this book will give you the inspiration and tools to do it!”
—Rohit Bhargava, SVP of Social@Ogilvy and author of Likeonomics

The Face-to-Face Book presents cutting edge thinking in a great book. With the explosion of digital marketing and the increasing hype of social media we tend to forget that a table and several chairs is still a favorite way for word of mouth to spread. If you want to understand the true impact of your marketing, pick up this book—you are in for a great ride!”
—Ekaterina Walter, social media strategist at Intel

“Ed Keller and Brad Fay are at the very front edge of the industry conversation about how to get consumers talking, and they are creating new wisdom on the subject every day. The Face-to-Face Book is a must read for anyone looking for inspiration to drive buzz in new ways, as we have been doing at NBCUniversal.”
—Tony Cardinale, EVP Brand Planning & Strategic Insights at NBCUniversal

The Face-to-Face Book is incredibly useful for anyone in marketing. Keller and Fay’s research covers the broadest spectrum of brand-relevant conversations which then lays the groundwork for communication strategies that are ‘social by design’ instead of simply social as a channel. At SMG we have found that more meaningful conversations about brands will lead to the more meaningful human experiences that truly drive long-term marketplace success.”
—Kate Sirkin, EVP, Global Research, Starcom MediaVest Group

“Charles Handy once said, ‘measuring more is easy, measuring better is hard’—that's what this book is about. Keller and Fay have cracked the code on providing a complete assessment of the origins and impact of word of mouth, its multiplier effect and the ultimate in earned media.”
—Artie Bulgrin, SVP Research & Analytics, ESPN, Inc.

2013 Berry-AMA Book Prize for the Best Book in Marketing
"Ed Keller and Brad Fay in their book The Face-to-Face Book provide us with strong evidence that in today's high tech digital world, face-to-face real relationships matter most. This book with its simple and compelling message, does not so much as take us back to the basics but into the future of marketing with the basics."

Product Details

Free Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Simon & Schuster
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

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Read an Excerpt



When the history of the early twenty-first century is written, will textbooks observe that Internet users spent billions of dollars on “virtual” animated online farm creatures during the worst economic slump since the Great Depression?

Much of history has been built on a series of gold rushes, not only for precious metals, but also for stocks, real estate, even tulips during the Dutch “tulip mania” of 1637. Could social media be the next big bubble? Is the rush to do business with Facebook, Twitter, and Zynga—the creators of the online farm game FarmVille—overheated?

During the American Gold Rush of 1848–1853, more than a quarter-million people flocked to California to exploit the new state’s golden bounty. That migration built proud cities like San Francisco and Sacramento and helped to fuel the great westward expansion of a young nation, with enormously important consequences for America. In today’s dollars, tens of billions’ worth of gold were discovered. But the vast majority of those Forty-niners, as they were called, became no richer for their journey and hard work.

We believe that social media today represents the latest gold rush, with too many businesses and marketers in search of Facebook and Twitter gold dust that they hope will rub off on them, chasing an immense social wave that is not yet fully understood. Missed in the frenzy is a far bigger opportunity with much greater impact to connect with people—consumers, voters, supporters—in important new ways. While the growth of social networking sites is impressive, the largest social gold mine is literally right beneath our noses: in the word-of-mouth conversations that happen in our kitchens and living rooms, in our churches and synagogues, next to the office water cooler, on the sidelines of youth soccer and baseball games, powered by the intimacy of face-to-face communications.

More than 90 percent of the conversations about products, services, and brands that take place every day in America happen offline, according to research that will be revealed in the chapters of this book. This adds up to billions of brand-related conversations and recommendations each and every week in America that take place face-to-face, or in real life (IRL), as it is known in Internet circles. Only a small percentage takes place online, whether through the multitude of social networking sites that we think of as social media, or through other online channels such as texting or email. Social media is big and growing, but it is still dwarfed by the analog world in which people live and interact.

That’s why this is The Face-to-Face Book. It is the story of how the decisions we make are based on true interpersonal influence: social influence, which happens most often, and most powerfully, face-to-face.

Make no mistake: there is a hugely important social wave rolling across the world of business today, based on the very belated insight that we humans are fundamentally social beings, for whom social influence determines nearly every decision we make. It’s an insight that was first observed and discussed decades ago, in the 1950s and 1960s. But with the rise of the golden age of television, it was largely ignored in favor of the glitz of that era’s revolutionary new medium. The opportunity was there, though almost entirely missed by the world’s marketers and entrepreneurs, until Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, proved to everyone that there’s gold in them thar hills. Yet too many people are attempting to mine only one vein of social opportunity, following the path blazed most successfully by Zuckerberg. It’s as if those gold-seeking Forty-niners were crowding together in pursuit of gold only at the original site of Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, where James W. Marshall found those first nuggets of gold in 1848.

The opportunities of the Gold Rush were not limited to the Sutter’s Mill property, but spread across much of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. And the opportunity, ultimately, was not just to find gold. California turned out to be a place of many other bounties—agriculture, trade and commerce, tourism, and invention—all of which were helped by the explosion of population and discovery induced by the gold rush. It was that same spirit of invention and discovery that brought Zuckerberg to the Golden State from the ivory towers of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the famous early days of Facebook.

This is neither a book against Facebook nor against social media in general. In certain respects, Mark Zuckerberg is the James W. Marshall of today’s social wave. The man and his company tapped into a mother lode that was there all along but ignored by many. He proved the power of social connections to the world. As of this writing, Facebook is approaching one billion users, one in seven of the world’s population, and the largest audience for a single media platform in the history of humanity. It is an awesome achievement, but the successes of Facebook—and its social media kin—are the result of a tremendous social opportunity, and not its cause or source. People flock to Facebook because it meets a social need that was previously underserved online. But people’s desire to be social manifests itself in many other places as well, creating multiple opportunities for businesses that wish to participate.

We believe in a marketplace that is highly social, but not because of particular platforms or technologies. The most successful businesses in the future will be the ones that embrace a model that puts people—rather than technology—at the center of products, campaigns, and market strategies. They will recognize that people have a far greater impact on each other than we previously realized, and that consumers are not just a collection of individuals. It’s an insight that applies as well to politics, which is increasingly impacted by socially driven movements such as the Tea Party, the “Occupy” protests, and peer-to-peer movements that are reshaping politics across the Middle East. New communications opportunities are being revealed by a rapidly growing “science of social” that is gathering momentum. Those who achieve the greatest success will recognize that there are many ways to tap into the power of today’s social consumer. Social media sites are just one way, and still a relatively limited one at that.

In the chapters of this book we will share with you our perspective on how you can think holistically about social influence in business, marketing, and politics. We rely heavily on insights from research about social influence by our firm, the Keller Fay Group, and others. So there is a solid, research-based foundation for everything we describe. But while the foundation is built on research, this is not a book that is dominated by numbers. We have interviewed top executives of companies that are going about things in smart, new ways—ways that are consistent with the facts and not just the hype—and we have endeavored to let their stories take the lead role, with the data in a largely supporting role. These companies include Audi, Best Buy, Dell, Domino’s, General Mills, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft, MillerCoors, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, and Zappos, among others.

But social marketing is not only the domain of large companies, so we feature the stories of some small companies that are thinking creatively about how best to create social businesses offline and online. And outside of business altogether, we look at how recent presidential campaigns have tapped into social marketing strategies. We hope we have been able to strike the right balance for those readers who understand things best through stories, and those who take comfort in the facts that come from research.

As we describe the history, present, and future of social marketing, you’ll learn what motivates people to talk about brands and companies and about the influencers who are at the center of the conversation. We write about the important role of advertising and other forms of traditional marketing in sparking conversations, and how media can be planned more effectively to maximize consumer advocacy and word of mouth. We also recommend how to use social media in smart and meaningful ways, and give examples where brands have taken the bait and have been misled. We will share examples of how word of mouth can be not only a goal and a strategy that drives business forward, but also how it can be used as a primary channel unto itself. And we look at the mix of positive and negative word of mouth with some facts that will surprise you and help you to realize the good that can come from negative word of mouth when it’s properly managed. We conclude with a discussion of companies that have changed the way their organizations operate to deal successfully with the social era in which they operate today, and that will continue to define the marketplace in the decades ahead.

There are many pathways to tap the power of people’s social connections and their desire to share and learn from each other. Some businesses recognize this and are responding appropriately. We applaud and celebrate them. But those marketers who are mining only one vein—namely, social networking tools and technologies—are not seeing the full scope of an enormous social opportunity. And if history and research prove true, they will ultimately lose business because of it. The great social wave is an opportunity that no business can afford to ignore or look at myopically. It’s happening all around us, mostly in the real world, face-to-face.

Meet the Author

Ed Keller is CEO of the Keller Fay Group and past-president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Coauthor of The Influentials, he lives in Westchester, New York.
Brad Fay is COO of the Keller Fay Group and a co-chair of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Influencer Marketing Council. He lives in New Jersey.

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The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
vernaG More than 1 year ago
Do you have this book in paperback?
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Facebook and other social media outlets have become ubiquitous tools for marketing. However, Ed Keller and Brad Fay, co-founders of the Keller Fay Group, a market research firm, challenge the effectiveness of these social modalities, arguing that face-to-face contact, word of mouth and other offline tools are more effective social marketing approaches for driving sales success. Citing their extensive research, the authors show that most brand conversations happen offline and that when firms shift their marketing focus to Facebook, sales generally fall. Keller and Fay seem to discount social media’s positive attributes for most of the book, but they find a balance by the end, acknowledging that promoters should use offline social marketing in conjunction with today’s powerful online tools. getAbstract recommends their study to marketing executives, social media experts and communications personnel. You don’t need to close your firm’s Facebook page – but you may want to rethink how you handle social marketing.
Laura_Atchison More than 1 year ago
Throw away everything you have begun to think about social media. Ed Keller and Brad Fay break down the reality of social media in an insightful, easy to absorb way that proves that social media is the most effective when it results in an old school face-face conversation. If you are now, or are thinking about, using social media to market your business, read this book. You will save yourself time, effort and money by understanding what makes social media effective.
Himmelfarb More than 1 year ago
This is a thorough, up-to-the-minute guide to the power of word-of mouth marketing...and a critical tool for anyone navigating the digital space. Keller and Fay are seasoned pros who base their insights on solid data and experience and present their findings clearly and in a way that you can use to guide your actions and craft your strategies. Don't go online without it (or them)!
SnowMore More than 1 year ago
Keller and Fay offer a fact-based counterbalance to the over-hyped argument that the future of marketing is in internet-based social media. There's enough hard data to support their argument, without making the book dry. On the contrary, the style is engaging, with lots of interesting case studies from the real world.
J_Mark More than 1 year ago
Relationships absolutely matter. This book is such a refreshing perspective amid the frenzy of social media. It is excellent food for thought and should definitely be added to your business library. Full of examples and insights.