Blogger (n): a person who publishes a web log containing their own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., often having images and links to other websites. In today’s marketing contexts, a blogger is so much more complex than this. A better definition would be an ambitious, tech-savvy, business-oriented twenty-something who has the world at her fingertips, who uses multimedia and a knowledge of what’s relevant in pop-culture and trends, who has a far-reaching social network, and the online voice to have an impact on consumers; an influencer. Today’s marketers are both inspired and confused by the millennial generation, full of internet voices that have evolved with Web 2.0, and who have the tools to be influencers. As marketers, we should recognize the changes from the modern to the postmodern consumer, and understand how blogging can be a viable marketing tool in the changing consumer atmosphere.
In the two decades since the first blogs emerged in the late 1990’s, blogging has become an integral part of social media and the internet. In 2016, WordPress reports 2.5 billion posts and 409 million viewers per month on their blogs, and WordPress is just one of many platforms (Smith 2016). Nowadays, people trust other consumers’ opinions more than they trust advertising. Using blogs, they can seek out genuine information and opinions regarding virtually any topic. However, companies themselves can appeal to the consumer by using blogging to connect with their audiences and create a two-way path of communication. More than 26% of companies operate a WordPress blog because it gives them a multimedia-friendly platform to create content and advertise (Smith 2016). Blogging is also useful for companies to build brand awareness (Rana 2016). Their online presence will skyrocket if their blog includes plenty of functioning inbound and outbound links, links to their other social media platforms, and relevant and interesting content to keep users coming back. All of this online traffic will improve the company’s SEO, as well.
How does this play into our role as marketers? The nature of blogging is hugely representative and reflective of the changing consumer. Traditionally speaking, marketers could analyze their audience and tailor their message specifically for them. But in today’s world, the message is now a conversation. Today’s consumers are able to continuously redefine themselves, their lifestyles, their opinions. What used to be the one-way communication of traditional advertising is now a creative, active process that empowers the consumer. As one journal describes, consumption, in a sense, becomes production (Christensen, et al 2005). An industry example of this can be seen with the Italian moped brand Vespa. They launched a blog on their website where customers can review the products, ask questions, or really post anything creative they want. This was successful for Vespa because incoming customers see user-generated content that they can trust. It also helped them gain brand loyalty and customer insight to improve their brand and products (Singh, et al 2008).
Blogging is also a useful tool to generate longterm buzz around a company or product. A blog itself can be viewed as a type of viral marketing – it uses social media, user-generated content, and gains views and shares by interactivity. However, blogs can create long-term attention around a company, rather than just one specific thing going viral for a limited time before it dies down (Singh, et al 2008). Promoting posts on other social media platforms and creating viral content continuously can be a long term tactic in an integrated marketing communications strategy. Another real life example of viral blogging is when popular bloggers are paid by companies to feature their products in their content, either subtly or explicitly. Other customers are impacted by the opinions presented by those influencers, and this can create buzz around the product.
The blogosphere, in a way, can be looked at as a place where the world’s influencers, marketers, and consumers connect and exchange ideas. It’s important to recognize that in this technology obsessed society, postmodern consumers have become influencers. Users now take an active part in the marketing process, whereas before they were purely receivers of an intended message. Therefore, blogging can be an extremely powerful tool in a marketing strategy.
Rana, K. S., Dr., & Kumar, A. (2016, April). Social Media Marketing: Opportunities and Challenges. Jctindia.org, XI(1), 45-49. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://www.jctindia.org/april2016/v11i1-5.pdf
Singh, T., Veron-Jackson, L., & Cullinane, J. (2008, August). Blogging: A new play in your marketing game plan. Business Horizons, 51(4), 281-292. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2008.02.002
Smith, C. (2016, July 14). By the Numbers: 29 Amazing WordPress Statistics. Retrieved September 23, 2016, from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/wordpress-statistics/