I am not a writer. I am not a journalist. I am not even a marketer (yet). I am a student. But you are reading my opinions right now. You are not paying to read it and I’m not being paid to write it. The experience of creating this blog made me think about this concept. My analysis of digital marketing issues are now in the public forum of the internet and all it asked of me was my time. Gone are the days of news, opinion, criticism, debate and comment being owned and controlled by newspapers. The power of influence is now held by people like me; bloggers.
This change from the traditional media landscape to the new participatory community approach enabled by Web 2.0 has allowed for a democratisation of the media. Anyone can now create content. We have seen this on various levels from the playful possibilities of becoming a celebrity via YouTube to the ability for social media to help revolutionary political groups in Egypt overthrow dictatorships. Now those who consume and those who create content can be one in the same. Essentially this has not only the “possibility of equality between media users and producers, but even the convergence of their roles, as media audiences take on new functions as citizen journalists, bloggers, game designers, and video artists” (Burnwell, 2010, p383). But what does this mean for marketers?
As the article Bloggers Outreach: 5 Tips For Connecting with Top Influencers by Stacey Politi on Mashable illustrates bloggers now hold the influence over consumers that traditional media sources once did. The power of their influence comes through the reader’s genuine trust of the bloggers opinions. According to a recent poll by Technorati reported in an article on Marketing Charts, 40% of respondents claimed that “their views closely align with those of bloggers, while their trust in mainstream media continues to wane”. It makes sense; bloggers are people just like you. Marketers have an invested interest in what they are promoting. Bloggers appear as if they do not. Blogging and online forums are becoming the new word of mouth and with the rise of ecommerce, those opinions are available simultaneously with the moment of purchase.
As last week’s blog post explained, the entire buyer decision process can now be performed online. The opinions of bloggers are not just part of the information search, but also the later stages including evaluation of alternatives and even the purchase itself. According to a research study by JupiterResearch “Among respondents who say they have trusted blog content for purchase decisions in the past, over half (52%) say blogs played a role in the critical moment they decided to move forward with a purchase.”
The research also showed that it consumer are not only more responsive and
trusting of the content itself from the blogger, but also the paid advertising on the site. The research suggests that for a consistent blog reader, the display advertising on a favoured blog has an influence on par with sponsored search engine results. For more information on these two types of online advertising check out last week’s post. Due to their value position in this online consumer behaviour marketers should be finding ways to connect with these influential bloggers.
According to Politi connecting with the influential bloggers is easier than you’d think. Several directories exist to connect you with bloggers. Also bloggers don’t become influential on people by being secret. Successful bloggers have many readers and implement good affiliations with other bloggers. They can be found by a good old fashion Google search because blogs have fresh content regularly and plenty of links and therefore rank highly in Google’s organic search results. What I think Politi’s article lacks is that she tells you how to find them but doesn’t give advice on how to
convince them to work with you and how to fit their advocacy into your wider
digital strategy. Is there strong, easy to use links between the blog and ability to purchase the product? Ensuring a balance of influence of opinion and practical actions may be the key to harnessing the power of the blogger.
Burnwell, C, 2011 ‘Rewriting the Script: Toward a Politics of Young People’s Digital Media Participation’, Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, vol. 32, iss no.4-5, p 382-402, EBSCOhost, viewed 10 October 2011
Politi, S, 2011, ‘Bloggers Outreach: 5 Tips for Connecting with Top Influencers, Mashable, viewed 9 October 2011, http://mashable.com/2011/10/01/blogger-outreach-tips/
Marketing Charts 2008, ‘Blog Influence Consumer Purchases More Than Social Network’, viewed 10 October 2011, http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/blogs-influence-consumer-purchases-more-than-social-networks-6616/