The default reason to listen and follow Blogs when all other convincing fails is that Blogs rank high in natural search engine results. If someone says something bad, it could well be that this highly ranked search engine result will provide the final layer of influence and decision for your potential consumer. All Marketers need to be paying attention.
On other levels, the power of Bloggers and their immediate ability to publish, build audience and become influencers has been the battle drum of Social Media practitioners, and has been debated, dissected and dialogued to death.
Do we really need another Blog post about how influential Bloggers are?
Two news items are pushing beyond and validating how these digital and social channels are doing more than just talking the talk.
BtoB Online has a news item today titled, BuzzLogic/JupiterResearch study finds blogs influence purchase behavior, which states:
"... among those users who find blog content useful for product decisions, 56% said blogs with a niche focus and topical expertise serve as key sources of information. The top categories in which users find blogs useful for purchase decisions are technology products (31%), media and entertainment (15%), games and sporting goods (14%), travel (12%), automotive (11%) and health services (10%). The study also found that 40% of blog readers have taken action as a result of viewing an ad on a blog."
And earlier today, Marketing Charts had a news item titled, Videogamers Not Lonely Introverts; More Valuable Consumers than Non-Gamers, which says:
"Americans who play video games are more likely than non-gamers to influence their friends’ attitudes about pop culture and new technology purchases and are more social than commonly thought, according to a study from IGN Entertainment and Ipsos Media CT. Findings from the “Are You Game?” research study break long-standing stereotypes of gamers as solitary introverts and shows gamers are more outgoing, more active and more valuable as consumers than those who do not play video games, IGN said. Videogamers - who are in 71% of US households - are now more likely than non-gamers to play sports, attend a concert or go out on a date."
It turns out that people who play video games and those who Blog are not lonely, pimply-faced Gen Y'ers who spend the bulk of their free time in a dark basement on a computer. They're human beings - just like you and I - and they wield an increasing amount of influence (they also happen to come from every age demographic and walk of life you can imagine).
There must be some kind of sociological progression going on here. At first, we are given the tools to publish at will, then we manage to get that content to spike to the top of the search engines. At this point, the controlling media dismiss the channel as a bunch of freaks, weirdos and creeps (they're scared about loosing their influence and power), then the general population adopts the channel, engages with it and invalidates the mass media's claims.
The next level?
Influence (it makes perfect sense).
Real power. The ability to do more than just say what you think and have others read it. Influence is about persuasion - enabling another party to see "your way." Marketers have spent decades mastering the gentle art of influence and persuasion. If that last mile gets unbottled and is available to every person, consumer, customer, Blogger, video gamers, etc... how does that change our society? Or, was it always a mythical perception that was simply controlled by Marketers because they were the gatekeepers along with Mass Media?
What does the shift of influence really mean for the future of Marketing as we've known it so far?
Individuals always had influence over their social circles, so isn't this just the next logical progression?