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Unofficial Blogs–soapbox or serious source?

In blogs, newspapers, social issues and new media, Uncategorized on October 6, 2009 by gingercatmom

bloggers...serious stuff or somebodys soapbox?

blogs...serious stuff or somebody's soapbox?

Last week, my emerging media class spent some time discussing unofficial company blogs. It’s pretty easy to find a blog on any subject so I just googled “unofficial ________ blog” and had a variety of choices in front of me. Walmartwatch.com is an example –it’s clearly all about WalMart (and all that is “wrong” with WalMart) yet there’s no link to the actual corporate site. There are no logos, no corporate perspective and no e-commerce conducted here. It’s very easy to understand the blogger’s agenda. They want to encourage readers, employees and community activists to demand change in WalMart’s business practices. It’s pretty obvious that this is not content generated by the company itself, but something that WalMart must take seriously.

As a skeptic, I have to ask “who reads blogs” and “why”? What prompts an individual to spend time writing, posting and following responses to their blogs? Why should I care what the blogger thinks about a specific company, product or cause?

The Pew Internet and American Life Project continues to provide helpful data on all aspects of Internet usage–including blog readership. A few facts from a 2008 study:
• 33% of internet users (the equivalent of 24% of all adults) say they read blogs, with 11% of internet users doing so on a typical day.
• Male and female internet users are equally likely to say that they do read other people’s blogs (35% for men, 32% for women).
• 12% of internet users (representing 9% of all adults) say they ever create or work on their own online journal or blog.
Given the fact that this data is more than a year old, I think we can assume that those figures are now even higher. A significant portion of the population reads blogs regularly. How the readers use that information is unclear. Marketers hope their blog content will spur the readers to believe, purchase or trust. But I think a lot of independent blog authors simply want to be heard–their small voices shouting from a virtual soapbox!

Judging whether a blog is serious, credible content–or not–is up to the reader. But credible or not, there seem to be blog readers willing to read.Therefore companies need to pay attention to those unofficial blogs.

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