Marketers looking to reach the super-influentials in their category may just want to keep blogs at the top of their list of social media tactics, according to the preliminary findings of a first-of-its-kind study released today by Copernicus Marketing Consulting and Research. An Aegis Media company, Copernicus provides growth-oriented insights and recommendations to Fortune 500 companies to improve the performance of marketing programs for new and established products and services.
Copernicus surveyed a national cross-section of 808 men and women, ages 18 and older, about their blogging behaviors and their personal influence patterns across 21 categories, ranging from products and services such as soft drinks and fast food restaurants to social/cultural topics such as sports and politics. The firm identified five groups that varied in terms of blog usage and three groups that differed in personal influence across the categories.
Copernicus discovered that study participants who scored "high" in cross-category personal influence were three times more likely to have posted a comment to a blog they regularly read and/or write their own blog than people who scored "low."
Though many previous studies demonstrated the wide-spread awareness of blogs and varying levels of participation, no other study done to date has included direct measures of personal influence.
"Many marketers pushed their brands into the blogosphere based on the assumption that bloggers and 'influentials' are one-and-the-same person," explains Kevin Clancy, Ph.D., Chairman of Copernicus. "Now they'll have some definitive evidence that suggests a strong relationship between blogging behavior and personal influence across a broad range of categories."
According to Peter Krieg, President and CEO of Copernicus, most marketers know that in the increasingly important word-of-mouth channel, "the messenger carries more weight than the actual message." As a result, they regularly seek out "influentials," also known as the people who tell friends and neighbors what and where to buy and have an impact on an increasing number of purchase decisions.
"And these influentials we've found are more engaged with blogs."
Adds Krieg: "Reaching influentials via blogs--a medium created to disseminate opinions and recommendations--makes it all the easier to share and spread information about your brand."
While marketers may not reach a sizable portion of the potential market for a product or service directly through blogs, they can still impact their purchase decisions indirectly by getting to the influentials:
A combined 77% of the study participants who scored "high" in terms of cross-category personal influence also scored "high" in blogging engagement.
In contrast, 62% of those who scored "low" on cross-category personal influence reported that though they know about blogs, they don't read them on a regular basis.
Copernicus also found a particularly strong relationship between blogging behavior and personal influence in selected categories. For example, take computers: among those who scored "low" in blogging engagement, only 23% agreed with the statement "I have a lot of opinions about computers and can often persuade other people to accept my point of view." In contrast, among those who scored "high" on blogging engagement, 59% agreed. See chart for the top 7 categories with the biggest differences.
Interacting with those most likely to influence the personal decisions of others in a medium in which they more actively engage can boost the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing efforts, says Clancy.
Other interesting early findings from the study include:
Of the demographic characteristics Copernicus examined, only age proved predictive of blogging behavior. As age increases, the level of blog engagement decreases.
Younger men tend to have a higher level of cross-category personal influence compared to other groups.
Those with a high level of cross-category personal influence spend twice as many hours reading blogs each week as those with a low level--6 hours vs. 3 hours.
Copernicus will present the full findings of the study in a webcast on July 14. Visit http://www.copernicusmarketing.com/consult/webcasts.shtml to register.