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Best Way to Influence Customers and Prospects? Go Blog!
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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According to an article by Patricia Redsicker appearing recently in Social Media Examiner, new research reveals that blogs are more influential among customers and prospects than social media when it comes to making decisions on possible purchases.

The potential implication of this to us flacks, particularly if we work in B2B or B2C communications, is truly enormous.

The Social Media Examiner article cited a recent study by TechnoratiMedia about this development. Among the findings in the TechnoratiMedia 2013 report were the following cited by Ms. Redsicker:

1. Blogs “are now the third most influential digital resource (31%) when making overall purchases, behind retail sites (56%) and brand sites (34%). Consumers said that blogs rank higher than Twitter for shaping their opinions and higher than Facebook for motivating purchasing decisions.”

When asked why this might be so, Redsicker noted, “Bloggers tend to be very honest and sincere in their reviews of products and services. They talk about both negative and positive aspects of a brand, and in doing so become a trusted source of information. Trust drives action, and thus consumers look to bloggers before they buy.”

2. “Consumers,” according to the survey and article, “say smaller [blog] communities are more influential” when it comes to discussing and sharing information.

3. “Facebook is where the world hangs out and brand marketers know how important it is to be successful on this platform. In fact, the report shows that when metrics from earned media goals for brands were ranked, Facebook likes were at the top.”

4. The currency of influence is trust. Consumers appreciate this and when bloggers (who largely blog for themselves) become known as thought leaders in their industries, their voices carry a lot of weight. As Ms. Redsicker noted, “If you want to grow your influence, the key is to become a trusted source of information in your industry. Provide compelling content on your blog and then amplify it through social media. People will listen and you will become their go-to resource for specific advice.”

5. Brands and influencers measure success differently and have a different understanding of influence.

Influencers understand that success is measured more by the number of people reading content rather than brands, which typically measure success by increased activity on social media sites. Brands also tend to believe “that having a large social media following doesn’t give you influence, it simply gives you an audience,” says Ms. Resicker. She suggests that brands “Try looking for influencers who have very close ties to their communities, or bloggers who are relevant to your brand even if they don’t have worldwide fame.”

Redsicker noted tellingly that “The biggest takeaway from the Technorati report is that blogging cultivates community, which is where influence is birthed.”

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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