Blogging – blurring the lines between consumer and advertiser

Jason Chuck & Nathan Cahill

It isn’t difficult to remember a time when marketing was controlled almost entirely through advertising agencies. Word of mouth was limited by the reach of communication tools, which was primarily one-to-one (e.g. telephones, letters, etc.). With the advent of the internet, that dynamic has shifted dramatically, with ordinary consumers now able to converse at the same one-to-many scale as traditional advertising businesses. One of the key platforms for this change is the humble blog (much like this one), which has given rise to influential consumers which companies have begun marketing to directly.

Blogger-business relationships have gained a high level of popularity for the mutual benefit that both parties receive. For businesses, reaching out directly to influential bloggers allows them to target specific segments in a more organic and “authentic” manner than traditional targeted advertising; for bloggers, this relationship can provide access to products and services they may not normally be able to present for their readers, in turn increasing their readership and reputation.

Firmoo, an online glasses retailer, has built its reputation through a large network of bloggers.

Firmoo, an online glasses retailer, has built its reputation through a large network of bloggers.

Word-of-mouth promotion is nothing new, of course. It has long been considered one of the most valuable forms of marketing – in fact, 92 per cent of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over any form of advertising. With the advent of online publishing, consumers have been able to put their own opinions online and engage with others, expanding that circle of trust from friends and family to relative strangers. These can be small industries in themselves – e.g. “mummy bloggers”, who write about their experiences as parents, provide advice and tips, and of course some discussion on the products and services they use.

How does a business integrate good press from bloggers into their marketing strategy? While there are countless articles online on how to properly manage blogger relationships, each with different tips, one of the recurring themes is treating the exchange as a partnership. Bloggers are neither purely consumer nor advertiser; neither are they client or employee. In the present connected world where everyone can make themselves heard, treating key “influencers” with respect goes a long way to generating positive, organic word-of-mouth promotion.

Do you follow any blogs? Would you buy products based on their reviews?

References:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2014/07/17/why-word-of-mouth-marketing-is-the-most-important-social-media/

https://hbr.org/2003/09/a-blogger-in-their-midst

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9 thoughts on “Blogging – blurring the lines between consumer and advertiser

  1. Hi All,
    Yes i do follow blogs and goes with the reviews before buying.
    Reviews can eliminate any doubts potential customers may have about a product, or can help product selection.
    Consulting reviews is now a logical step in the purchasing cycle for all types of products and services. The increased quantity and availability of reviews makes the selection process easy for consumers.

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  2. I don’t follow blogs and I’m not sure how influenced I would be if I looked at individual reviews before buying. What makes WOM so valuable is that it comes from a trusted source – family, friend or colleague for example, with whom you probably have established a level of trust. Its so hard to decipher what’s credible/or not online.

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  3. Those influences are moving their way into Instagram accounts too! It seems commonplace practice now for ‘fashion influences’ to take over a companies Instagram account for a week. No doubt the company sees a spike in engagement that week.

    I tend to agree with sueri12, the value of WOM comes from knowing the individual making the recommendation. Otherwise it more like E grade celebrity endorsement…and you don’t know if they are getting paid or not!

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  4. Different web site give many different stats on sales based on stats. According to Balihoo stats 59% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But regardless of any stats, I think we have all thoroughly checked product reviews on social media, as well as consult friends that we know before making a purchase. And this tends to vary depending on the involvement of the purchase as well.

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  5. I follow quite a few blogs, mainly business and entertainment – and do occasionally feed this into my decision making or at least am prompted by an idea of suggestion as part of the information search / discovery phase of purchase. Reading a good blog on a topic that I’m interested in will often put a product or service into my consideration set that I might not know about, but then I’ll look to other sources for recommendations that i would take seriously; friends thoughts – online or in the ‘real’ world are usually the most valued.

    Word of mouth however is a key determinant of successful organic growth, and developing strong advocacy amongst a core group of influencers is a key part of many marketing and PR strategies for new product launches.

    There’s some interesting further insights into how Sony uses influencers to build WOM androducts influence credit card take up by identifying groups of customers who were influencers (around 15% of their database) and then other attributes such as friends who had credit cards and their propensity to buy if they had a friend who also bought a Sony product. They then developed a specific campaign to reward both the friend and the Sony customer (in the database) as part of the campaign – essentialy a ‘member get member’ type promotion. So not only is the organic growth being recognised as a result of strong influencers and WOM but Sony used this as a segmentation variable to target a particular campaign and drive a significantly improved ROI (as well as making these influencers feel valued as part of the process – a double whammy!).

    http://www.cmo.com.au/article/526573/how_sony_used_influencer_marketing_drive_up_conversion_rates/

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  6. I follow some fashion blogs and had also following a beauty blog for a certain time. But I never bought products based on the reviews posted there.
    When it comes to beauty blogs, most of the bloggers are sponsored by cosmetic companies who send products to the more famous blogger so that they can test the product and give a review on it. I think receiving an expensive cream from a well-know cosmetic company for free makes the blogger somehow appreciating the product because it is a gift. Therefore, his or her opinion will in most of the cases been biased. Sponsoring of blogs or product placement is a marketing instrument that a number of companies use – especially when it comes to fashion and cosmetics. I still like following the blogs but I also see the link to advertisement in some cases and hence, am reluctant to trust these “independent” reviews,

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  7. I don’t follow blogs however I do value word of mouth (WOM) as it seems more impartial. I use WOM more as a last step in order to validate my purchase choice. Because I actively search for WOM I will pay more attention to it, as it is not being forced on me like standard advertising.

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  8. I don’t follow any blogs, but I rely on the opinions of peers on products I buy online. Reviews of products online are extremely helpful as you can get a general sense of that everyone thinks of the product. If you see lots of complaints and issues, you should probably avoid that product but on the other hand if you read glowing endorsements for products, this is a good sign that you are buying a high quality product.

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  9. I don’t normally follow blogs, but I do look up reviews and I think nowadays, people pay more attention to online reviews than WOM. Reviews actually do influence my decision of purchasing especially when I wish to seek advice and information and cannot make my own decision. Reviews can reflect the quality, price and experience of using the product.
    For example, if I choose to travel and need to select hotels and restaurants, the first thing I do is to look up their online reviews. Asking friends and family members are equally important, however, they only represent a small group of people, whereas online reviews include a wide range of complaints and information from consumers all over the world.

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