Myth: Most reviews are negative.

Last week at WOMM-U, Geoff Donaker, chief operating officer at Yelp, announced (to a gasp of all those in attendance) that the ratio of positive to negative Yelp reviews stands at a whopping 6:1; an incredible ratio. These positive reviewers are more than just writers on Yelp, they are advocates. Companies have an opportunity to build a relationship with them... not only to generate positive reviews, but also to have these advocates evangelize on the company's behalf—as a volunteer salesforce. Companies not actively identifying and mobilizing their their advocates—on Yelp or anywhere on the Social Web—are missing significant opportunities.

But this only highlights online reviews. What about offline?

Keller Fay Group, a full-service marketing research and consulting company dedicated to word of mouth marketing, has been looking at the impact of WOM in the offline world for some time. According to CEO Ed Keller, "Yelp’s findings about the positive to negative ratio (6:1) are highly consistent with what our firm, the Keller Fay Group, has found consistently for the past three years when looking at both offline and online conversation — brand conversations tend to be overwhelmingly positive. More specifically, ~65% of WOM is reported to be 'mostly positive' by participants, nearly 8 times the percentage (~8%) who say the conversations are mostly negative. We agree, there is far more to be gained than lost in encouraging WOM."

So, if you were thinking that WOM is only about negative reviews, that myth has now been debunked. There is a massive amount of customer advocacy happening, and consumers are continuing to count on WOM as the most trusted source of information—both online and offline. Forward-thinking organizations have a golden opportunity to turn their advocates into a volunteer sales force... but brands have to make it easy for advocates to reach others wherever they are: online in forums, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, review sites... anywhere on the Social Web. Identify and mobilizing your advocates will not only increase your positive Word of Mouth, it can also translate into measurable sales in the same quarter.