I BLOG, THEREFORE I AM
ONLINE MARKETING REPORT
“I think, therefore I am.” - René Descartes (1596 – 1650)
It’s one of philosophy’s most famous sayings, but what has it got to do with Blogs as marketing tools? Bear with me on this one. The answer is simple. And, I promise, no more French philosophers.
What is a Blog? In essence it’s the Blogger’s way of saying: “I exist. Here I am. This is my life. And this is what I think about everything from pop music to household products.” Or, in other words: “I Blog, therefore I am.”
It seems these days everyone has a Blog. I read recently that a quarter of the population of South Korea has one. That’s more than 11 million Bloggers, in just one country. Not every Blog gets read—there are simply too many—but the good ones do, and they can help shape public opinion.
Blogs also get enviably high search engine rankings. Try Googling a well-known brand. Chances are the first two results pages will include a few Blogs. They might be complimentary about the brand, but then again they might not.
Blogs get high rankings because search engines look at the number of other sites that link to them. Bloggers congregate in communities and link their Blogs to one another (a practice known as blogrolling). So a popular Blog can quickly acquire numerous links and shoot up the search rankings.
Let’s face it: Blogs matter. They have huge online audiences, are becoming highly visible, and are increasingly affecting brand perception. The big boys are certainly paying attention—AOL recently acquired Weblogs Inc. Network for US$25 million, and News Corporation paid US$580 million for Myspace.
There are several ways that we as marketers can benefit from Blogs. The first is to monitor popular Blogs to assess market perception of our brands. Google a brand now and then and see what comes up. Chances are that within the first two results pages you’ll come across one or more Blogs that mention that brand. These are genuine opinions people are expressing. Knowing them can be useful.
Another way is to engage the Bloggers. If our brand is in a sphere of interest covered by a Blogger, we can get them involved by sending news releases and the occasional thank you email. Coverage on a network of Blogs can have a big impact on search engine rankings, particularly for smaller and emerging brands.
A third way is to start our own Blogs. This presents a particular challenge. To the online public, the great thing about Blogs is that they provide independent opinion, untarnished by marketing spin. The key here is providing information that is relevant, frequently updated and, dare I say it, independent. If someone adds a critical comment, why not leave it? This might sound nuts, but the odd criticism here and there can help our Blog establish that all-important trust factor. And if most content is positive, an isolated gripe won’t hurt. Once we’ve established trust, our Blog will start seeing more visitors more frequently, which can only be good for the brand.
Microsoft and Dell have been using Blogs for a while now. But it’s not just the major tech companies who are doing it. From car manufacturers to organic dairies, Blogs are fast becoming part of the marketer’s online arsenal.
Pretty soon, I believe, we’ll all be doing it. And then we’ll be saying: “We market, therefore we Blog.”
By Jeff Zweig
Chief Guru, Southeast Asia
Web Guru Asia