How have blogs changed consumer behavior and how can marketers utilize blogs in digital marketing

Written by a Master's Student of the Lund University School of Economics and Management

Social media 

How has the consumer behavior changed after the Internet became more of a social platform?Once the social aspects of the Internet came along a term called Web 2.0. was created. Web 2.0 indicates a platform that enables people to create and distribute all kind of content online (Berthon et al, 2012). Social media changed the whole nature of searching and sharing

One of the most popular platforms within the social media is a blog. The blogs have becomextremely popular in terms of spreading knowledge, experiences, ideas and marketing
products. This blog post is going to analyze how consumers are influenced by blogs and howmarketers can utilize blogs in their work.

What is a blog?  

J.N. Kapferer describes blogs as “the truth of the market, the true consumer magazine, wthe brand websites are the official truth” (2012). This description is spot on when it com
differentiating the official and unofficial content that one can find about a product or servi
online. Most often people try to seek for the unofficial content due to its authenticity. Blogs have started to provide vast amounts of user generated information that has not been polished by the company itself.

 What kind of benefits do blogs provide?

What are the benefits for us consumers that the blogs provide? We can instantly reach vacustomer experiences of all kinds of goods through the Internet. Finding relevant and relinformation is extremely easy and convenient. It provides an adequate tool to make more educated and well-reasoned purchasing decision.

Prior to blogs the content that people reached was often created by the company itself. Such content is much more biased than reading reviews and experiences written by other

Blogs have made it easy for people to share their experiences, thus, a new kind of pool of reviews and a forum for commenting products and services has been generated which is an advantage for customers. Everybody can start a blog use his or her freedom of speech to 
express ideas and thoughts.

Additionally, a blog functions as a great tool for marketing. It is a cost efficient way to
promote goods and services. For instance, local startups, such as hair salons, can reach the target market with a low marketing budget by collaborating with a blog.

 • Easy to reach various consumer experiences
• Often unbiased content
• Easy to share own experiences and advices 
• Great tool for marketing 

What are the negative aspects of blogs? 

Occasionally some blog writers inspire consumers to make more impulsive purchasing
decisions. Especially when following someone’s blog frequently, he or she becomes sort of a god-like example for the followers. The bloggers and their lives tend to become an obsession for their audience. Many of the followers tend to replicate the way how they eat, consume, and exercise. 

When it comes to marketing implications, the product placements work extremely efficiently on the readers. The most popular blog writers have various sponsors that pay for them to
promote their products and services. Hence, one should be aware whether the blog is
commercial or not.

Consumers are the creators of social media

According to Berthon et al (2012) ever since Web 2.0 and social media were established, the importance of creative consumers has become obvious. Companies need people to both create and share content that include their products or services. According to Hanna et al (2011), “marketing can no longer solely be about capturing attention via reach; instead, marketers must focus on both capturing and continuing attention via engagement”. Hanna et al’s statement is strongly supported by Sonja Gensler’s study regarding brand management in 
social media environment. She states that: “firms need to pay attention to consumer-generated brand stories to ensure a brand's success in the marketplace” (Gensler et al., 2013). 

Without creative consumers the social media would not add value to the company as much as it should. One important aspect when it comes to adding value is to increase the size of
audience.  According to Berthon (2012): “in the age of social media, local events seldom
remain local”. There are no boundaries in the web. There is no difference whether you publish the content in NYC or Sundsvall, the impact when it goes viral can still be the same. Once something becomes a local phenomenon online, it will most likely become a nation-wide or even a global phenomenon (Berthon, 2012).  

Eletronic Word of Mouth

The social media, the blogs to be more precise, provide perfect facilities for spreading content electronically in terms of word of mouth (eWOM). According to King et al (2014), “eWOM allows consumers to socially interact with one another, exchange product-related information, and make informed purchase decisions via computer-mediated conversations”. When
comparing to traditional word of mouth, the eWOM is much faster, more efficient and the content remains out there to be read. Traditional word of mouth spreads only when people talk whereas the eWOM is searchable and available all the time, 24/7, online. This
information will not go anywhere before someone deletes the content which often is
impossible once the content has spread virally.  

Marketing implications 

The ultimate goal of blogs when it comes to marketing implications is to engage people and create a dialogue between consumers (Wright, 2006). Many blog writers are engaged with 
corporations in term of testing their products and writing reviews of them. Naturally, these
kinds of activities do not happen without exchanging goods or currency between the writer and the company which causes a dilemma regarding the authenticity of the experiences.  

Nevertheless, there is a huge pool of blog writers that are full with potential in terms of
marketing. The blogs have enabled ‘normal’ people to publish content without even being
tech savvy computer specialists. The content that the bloggers create can reach millions of
readers. For instance, the current fitness boom is a great example of such. There are relatively
normal, yet good looking, girls posting pictures of themselves on Instagram working out and
writing blog posts about living a healthy lifestyle. These girls have hundreds of thousands of
followers. Their posts get thousands of views, likes and shares every day. These persons are
full with marketing potentiality.

Marketers have to be aware of the influence that these girls have. They have attained an
audience that follows them actively on daily basis. Such peers are significant and can be
utilized commercially in terms of marketing.

Most often bloggers collaborate with companies by product placements. The bloggers offer
relatively easy and extremely affordable way to reach masses of people. Most of the bloggers
are not celebrities, hence, using them in marketing will not cost hundreds of thousands of
dollars. Yet, they reach hundreds of thousands of people that often are consistent when it
comes to demographics. By placing products in the daily routines of their inspirational lives, 
companies can reach repetitively the consumers who read the blogs frequently.

 However, the companies need to be aware when communicating their corporate brands
through social media. According to Vernuccio (2014), more than a third of all companies
using social media in brand building are considered cautious with their strategies. When
collaborating with bloggers, companies must be sure that the person reflects their values and
brand image according to their brand management strategies. 

Keep on blogging

Conclusively, it can be said that blogs provide useful and interesting information about
products and services. However, the reliability and intentions of the blogposts can vary
substantially depending on how commercial the blog is. Nevertheless, there are an incredible
amount of data out there that allows consumers to compare different stories and experiences.
The vast amount of content outweighs the few biased blog posts amongst them.  As long as
the bloggers will create new content and are commercially engaged, the social media,
especially blogs, will keep on flourishing.  

Berthon, P. & Pitt, L. & Plangger, K. & Shapiro, D. (2012). Marketing meets Web 2.0, social
media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy. Available
online at:
Gensler, S. & Völkner, F. & Liu-Thompkins, Y. & Wiertz, C. (2013). Managing Brands in the
Social Media Environment. Available online at:
Hanna, R. & Rohm, A. & Crittenden, V. (2011). We’re all connected: The power of the social
media ecosystem. Available online at:
Kapferer, J. (2012), The New Strategic Brand Management: Advanced insights & strategic
King, R. & Racherla, P. & Bush, V. (2014). What We Know and Don't Know About Online
Word-of-Mouth: A Review and Synthesis of the Literature. Available at:
Vernuccio, M. (2014). Communicating Corporate Brands Through Social Media: An
Exploratory Study. Available online at:
Wright, J. (2006). Blog Marketing: The Revolutionary New Way to Increase Sales, Build
Your Brand, and Get Exceptional Results. Available online at: