Is there really that much blogging? Technorati says there are 8 million blogs, and Pew Internet says that 27% of the public (US) reads blogs daily. The Blogosphere is doubling about once every 5 months. The critical piece: consumer behavior is changing. There's a ton of internet based research happening before a purchase takes place, and that has changed a lot of the sales dynamics (think car sales).
What blogs provide is a set of opinions about every conceivable product and service out there. If a consumer wants to know what the "buzz" on a product is, they'll be able to find it quickly. That flips the relationship around for this market segment (the plugged in part).
So what's in a blog for a market researcher? Lots of demographic and consumer generated content that marketers can use for real time message correction. What do bloggers write about? Pick an industry where consumers directly interact with identifiable brands, and there's a set of commentary.
How can a marketer use blogs? It's one of the areas you can get product/market research from. Provides a way to have customers feel like their opinion matters, and that they are being listened to. One of the challenges advertisers face is that - even though most of the ads are on tv, the eyeballs have fled:
- Technology (ReplayTV/TiVO
- Multi-tasking (using the net as they watch tv, ignoring the ads)
- The old fashioned thing - refrigerator break :)