According to a recent study from market research firm Synovate, eight out of 10 Americans know what a blog is, almost half have visited blogs, and nearly one in 10 Americans has their own blog, firmly demonstrating that the word "blog" -- short for "weblog," a term that came into being a decade ago -- has now entered the mainstream of U.S. consumer consciousness.
What does this mean for manufacturers?
Blogs enable a direct communication link with influential consumers, higher search engine rankings for key search terms and the ability to respond quickly to marketplace events. They are often penned by experts in the field -- experts that you might already have in-house. In fact, it is statistically likely that you have some bloggers on your payroll right now; what you need to find out is whether they are the right person to represent your company.
Also, as blogs and online forums are so frequently updated, they can be a good indication of the current market. In many areas, expert bloggers exist as a separate, highly opinionated (and often just as highly trafficked) arm of the media.
And even if some manufacturers choose to ignore the opinions of the blogging crowd, consider the attractiveness of all those interested blog-reading eyeballs passing through the blogosphere. According to the Synovate study, 43% of blog visitors indicate that they have noticed advertisements on blog websites, rising to 61% among those aged 18 to 24. Almost one-third of consumers have clicked on an ad while reading a blog.
"Because anyone can start one anytime, blogs are not necessarily seen as legitimate information sources despite the fact that some bloggers are experts in their area," said Tom Mularz, senior vice president at Synovate. "However, as their prominence and influence continues to rise, this could certainly change."