Last week, we highlighted studies from Cone and COLLOQUY that looked at negative word of mouth as an aspect of social media. Some of the takeaways we found interesting:

eMarketer reports on the same Cone study we shared, and they compare it to a 2010 study by the Keller Fay Group. While positive word of mouth is still more influential than negative, the gap is narrowing.

That’s especially important in light of another new study, this one by NM Incite. They surveyed adult social media users to learn why people use social media. The responses are broken down by whether the users are parents or not.

It’s no surprise that the top reason for both groups is finding/maintaining old friends… it is social media, after all.

What might surprise you is that 68% of respondents say they use social media in relation to products and services. And over half do so for the purpose of leaving feedback. More specifically:

Higher by far (even higher than the percentages who use social media to learn about a product or find a discount) are the numbers who go to read feedback.

71% of parents and 64% of non-parents use social media to read the opinions of other consumers.

We’ve told you before – social media is word of mouth. And if you imagined the growing number of users who are sharing their opinions of brands as speaking to an empty theater, you would be mistaken. They’ve got a built-in audience.

That’s exactly why you need to be a part of the conversation. While you can’t control the talk, you can address problems as they arise. Not only will this turn some negative experiences into positive ones, but the people who are talking and reading about you anyway will see your efforts to engage and help resolve issues.

It may not help with the 7% who never have anything nice to say… but maybe you could just refer them here. We’ve got some advice for them.

We’re inclined to agree.