Blog readership is anticipated to grow steadily over the next several years. Today, 113 million U.S. internet users read blogs on a monthly basis. By 2014, it is estimated that this number will grow to 150 million (eMarketer). Given the current and future prevalence and readership of blogs, marketers have zeroed in on bloggers as potential beacons of earned media. With marketing efforts increasingly centered on blogs, whether internet users trust bloggers and why has become increasingly important.
Research conducted by Invoke Solutions found that individuals with a handful of tightly knit fans, friends, and followers (57 percent of the sample) are seen as more influential than individuals with thousands (36 percent), and millions (8 percent) of friends, fans, and followers. This finding highlights the importance of relationship quality over quantity. U.S. frequent users of social media indicated they are more likely to completely trust blog posts written by friends than Facebook posts or tweets written by friends.
Looking at blogs specifically, the Invoke Solutions study found that 64 percent of U.S. frequent social media users completely or somewhat trust blog posts by someone they know, and 22 percent completely or somewhat trust blog posts by someone they don’t know. According to eMarketer, nearly half of online adults who read blogs trust the information provided by blogs and a little less than half would recommend a product or service based on a blog post they read. Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010 found 42 percent of bloggers have written positive or negative posts about brands. Thirty-three percent of bloggers indicated having been asked by a brand to review products.
So, do people trust bloggers? The answer is: It depends. If bloggers have succeeded in cultivating close and engaging relationships with their audiences, their audiences are likely to take their word when it comes to recommendations and opinions. Brands should seek to form enduring relationships with bloggers that have demonstrated the ability to consistently engage a close knit audience. Brands should also strive to only collaborate with bloggers in ways that complement the blogger’s area of expertise. After all, a mountain biker blogger’s audience is unlikely to trust this blogger’s opinion on the nutritional value of a given dog food, no matter how strong and devoted his or her following.