Blog Marketing: Potential and Limits

Blog Marketing: Potential and Limits

Calin Gurau (GSCM – Montpellier Business School, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.ch128
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Abstract

In the last ten years blogs have become a familiar feature of the Internet landscape, and the number of blogs multiplied exponentially. A blog is a specific form of online community, organised, coordinated and moderated by a person or an organisation, which attracts a number of participants/members, because of the specific topics posted and discussed on the blog web site. The interest of marketers for blog communities was quickly translated in a number of methods designed to enhance online marketing campaigns (Cohen, 2005).
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Introduction

In the last ten years blogs have become a familiar feature of the Internet landscape, and the number of blogs multiplied exponentially. A blog is a specific form of online community, organised, coordinated and moderated by a person or an organisation, which attracts a number of participants/members, because of the specific topics posted and discussed on the blog web site. The interest of marketers for blog communities was quickly translated in a number of methods designed to enhance online marketing campaigns (Cohen, 2005):

  • gather marketing intelligence: the marketers can collect important information about consumers’ reactions to specific product and/or services, by surfing the open-access blogs available on the Internet;

  • directly engage blog members to comment on key business topics: some marketers might find useful to post their opinion on blogs that discuss specific business issues, such as product launch, product characteristics, quality and price levels, in order to initiate a direct dialog with active bloggers;

  • advertise on blogs to reach influencials or to target a well-defined niche audience;

  • engage consumers in a direct dialogue by opening and managing a corporate, brand, or product blog. These corporate blogs can attract consumers that are passionate about the company and/or its products, providing an open discussion forum for improving existing products or the functional features of the new product ideas. This type of blogs can represent a tool for enhancing company-customer interactions, building mutually beneficial relationships and creating opportunities for value co-creation.

Despite the obvious potential of blog marketing, until now very few studies have explored directly the potential and the limits of this new marketing tool. Some of these limits are related to the existing technology in terms of online interaction and communication. However, probably the most restrictive limitation is the attitude of many blog members, who consider blog marketing as a serious infringement of their privacy right and of the rules of ethics established within the blogosphere. For this reason, the exploration of blog members’ attitudes and perceptions regarding marketing activities can increase the understanding of the specific opportunities and limits of this form of online community for marketers.

After a brief discussion of the main studies already published on this topic, the research methodology applied to collect both secondary and primary data is presented. The results of primary data analysis are then considered, in direct relation to the formulated research objectives. On the basis of these findings a discussion of the practical and theoretical implications of blog marketing communication is developed. The paper concludes with a summary of the main findings and with propositions for future research.

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Background

Existing research has focused either on the use of blogs as text-mining source (Rickman and Cosenza, 2007), or on the strategies applied by firms to reach the blog audience (Raab, 2009; Teich, 2008) or to manage corporate communication (Cox et al., 2008). The blog is an extremely attractive tool for virtual social interaction, because it provides opportunities for individual expression in a shared social environment (Ko et al., 2008).

The importance of blog marketing is determined by the popularity of this new type of social media (Raab, 2009). The 2008 report on the state of the Blogosphere published online by Technorati (2008) identifies the demographic profile of bloggers, as well as the most important blogging practices. According to this report, 77% of the active Internet users read blogs. There were 94.1 million blog readers in 2007, only in the US. The European and Asian bloggers are predominantly male, while in the US the proportion of males and females that access blogs is more even. On the other hand, a large percentage of Asian bloggers are young (18-34 years old), while in the US and Europe most bloggers are 35 years of age or older.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Influencials: Individuals considered as opinion leaders by their peers.

Blog Marketing: The marketing techniques used to collect information, advertise or sell product or services on a blog.

Online Community: a group of people that have a common interest and who interact using online communications tools.

Discussion Thread: Chain of written ideas or opinions, exchanged among two or more participants in an online discussion, linked in the sequences in which they were expressed by the participants.

Text-Mining: The process of searching, collating and deriving useful data or information from text sources.

Blog Advertising: posting advertising messages on a blog.

Shared Social Environment: A physical or virtual space used by a group of people that have a common interest.

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