A recent global study by Neilsen suggests that word-of-mouth remains – by far – the most trusted opinion and most effective form of marketing online. See this post on eMarketer on the study. This adds to the evidence that online consumers trust their peers far more than corporate websites or paid online advertising (which is near the bottom of the list.) A related study by GFK Roper similarly found that consumers rate word-of-mouth recommendations as the most credible source to drive purchase decisions. Many companies already acknowledge this reality and are featuring ratings/reviews and consumer comments in their marketing outreach. But there appears to be plenty of room for companies to more fully engage in broad word-of-mouth campaigns with consumers. Yeah, posting ratings and reviews (particularly if they are positive) is a good step. But fostering that ephemeral buzz from fans – and getting them to spread the word – is the ultimate marketing objective.