Today, on seeing an email from Social Media Examiner (@smexaminer) that carried the link to Technorati‘s recently published 2013 Digital Influence Report, I rushed over to their site and read up on this replacement for “State of the Blogsphere” from past years. The key finding is that marketers are spending a lot more time (and money) on digital media, but not on the one social medium that best influences consumer purchases: blogs.
Despite the fact that blogs are highly influential with consumer, they are not the biggest part of the brand’s spending online. That still belongs to the banner and other digital ads. The reason cited for this imbalance: lack of metrics. How do you know if blogging (or any social media, really) works?
It is clear to me that, unless measurements are regular and aimed at the behavior a brand/company wants their engagement to produce, they will never solve the mystery. Many online tools now exist for automating the collection and analysis of these measures (Hubspot comes to mind, and there’s Klout and ComScore and others), but it’s worth doing even if you have to DIY. Here’s a presentation I did a while back that suggests a simple system. Some of the user numbers are old (actually, they are ALL old), but the philosophy is still sound.
Facebook leads the digital strategy list (93% of 6,000 brands surveyed have a presence), followed by Twitter (85%) and YouTube (73%). These penetrations are sizable and harbingers of a major shift in brand marketing to content creation outside of the traditional advertising channels of mass media. But, looking at the budgets devoted to social media, almost $6 of every $10 is on Facebook. Blogs get only 6% of the spend. More than half the brands report having earned media goals, and the simple counts you would expect comprise most of them. And consumers report that they pay more attention to and are more heavily influenced by smaller online communities, thereby putting the Facebook, Twitter and YouTube investments in some doubt about their effectiveness.
Blogs, on the other hand, are typically small communities. Consumer look for reviews of product experience when making a purchase decision. Where those can be found (retail sites, brand sites, blogs), consumer rank are their top influencers. Influencers that consumers pay attention to actively blog (86%), many operate multiple blogs, and about a third have been blogging for five years or more. Most do nothing else to create their influence, although many redistribute their content on Facebook and other large platforms. Interesting, less than 10% use video to blog.
What are you doing to create influence for your brand or yourself?