Once, there was a misconception that companies controlled their well-crafted messages. Today, more companies of all sizes are realizing that not only do they not control public perception of their message—they never did.
Listening and responding in social media venues is a good start. Answering the phone for those who prefer that way to reach to a company in that way is a must. In growing numbers, before most users reach out to your company, they have already been influenced by social media content and many more through blogs. This results in better informed customers who come with their own knowledge, which may or may not be totally correct.
Ontario-based social media monitoring and analytics firm Sysomos reports on who is writing the content that is influencing the world. (Special thanks to MarketingCharts.com for bringing my attention to this).
The largest percentage of bloggers are American, responsible for 29 percent of content, followed by the U.K. (7 percent) and Japan (5 percent). And yes, California does produce more content than the other states.
Of the 100-million blog posts analyzed in the report, they were almost evenly split between male and female authors.
“Not surprisingly,” the report states, “the most active bloggers are younger people who have grown up during the blogging “revolution,” which started about seven years ago.” More than 53 percent of bloggers are in the 21-35 age bracket; 20 percent are under 21 and 19 percent fall into the 36-50 years of age range.
When someone thinks they want to start a blog, they have one huge hurdle to overcome: The need to “find their voice.” What are they passionate enough about that makes them willing to publish their thoughts and ideas for the entire world to read? It is this passion that drives these individuals to research and write content with the intent of helping you through sharing their passion with text, photos, audio and video. Through comments on a blog, users can share their opinions as well.
It is no secret that you and I would trust a stranger’s online review more than the advice of a salesperson. In the same way our parents trusted the word-of-mouth advice of their friends (and friends of friends); we trust the bloggers and the comments of online communities. Granted, we are cautious, but that is a good approach to have.
Some forward-thinking companies started adding uncensored online communities with product reviews in the 1990s. They got over the “what if people say bad things about us” questions and learned to leverage people sharing content: the good, the bad and the ugly. Addressing issues in an open way shows other customers if the company has a transparent commitment to customer satisfaction.
Search engines will make sure you find new voices and their content. New search algorithms like Google’s Caffeine appear to weigh real-time content (social media) with video and blog content – perhaps even above the content of your web site. The exact search results formula is being kept secret by Google like they had my mother’s holiday recipes. You know, the real good recipes that nobody can duplicate. What is clear is the influence of bloggers – and of your comments both to the blogs and in social media—is growing.
Influence can come from a 12 year-old or someone much older. The content and wisdom will speak for itself, and the better sites will be rewarded. After all, we have entered the Age of Influence. It’s time to partake in the wisdom available.