- 181,000,000 blogs worldwide
- 18,700,000 million bloggers (6.7m on blogging websites, 12m using social networks)
Everyone and his dog seems to have a blog (or web-log) nowadays! But while the B2C sector has picked up on consumer appetite for reading and sharing blogs, and has embraced blogging and the importance of bloggers for selling B2C products and services, the B2B sector has been much slower to see its potential as a strategic communications tool, with real tangible benefits for business.
So why is this? To understand why many B2B businesses still haven’t bought into blogging, we need to understand a bit more about the history of blogs.
A Short History of Blogging
In just over a decade, blogging has seen an explosion in popularity. Since the early days, when blogging was restricted to just a few technology experts with the knowledge to be able to code and host their own blogs, the practice of blogging has been transformed by the creation of a number of user-friendly open source platforms such as WordPress and Typepad, which opened up blogging to the masses. Webdesignerdepot.com reports that in 1999 there were just 23 blogs on the internet, but by the middle of 2006, there were 50 million.
An unfortunate side effect of this popular explosion of blogging was that up until a few years ago, blogging was most often associated with amateur hobbyists and people at home sharing their passion for a particular topic or activity. Quality of content and consistency of style was therefore variable, and blogs often lacked the credibility and authority they often command now. But due to a growing desire from readers to connect with the very personal style of amateur blogs – one which mirrored the growth in social media use – the popularity of blogs as a source of valuable industry insider information increased and many of the more well written and informative (or controversial) ones saw huge rises in site traffic. As a result, many of the “hobby bloggers” found they could monetise their blogs and the influential ones were often approached for product or service reviews and opinions on news stories.
Blogging for Business: Bloggers & PR
Nowadays, a list of industry bloggers is as important to PRs as their press journalist list. Online blogs have an immediacy and virality that cannot be achieved through traditional print media, so blogging for business can give those who do blog the edge against those don’t blog. As people access more and more of their news online, the credibility and authority of bloggers should not be underestimated. This change has often been to the annoyance of some traditional journalists, who are under much more scrutiny to present facts, while bloggers are free to write opinion-based content.
But those working in the B2B sector shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that blogs, bloggers and blogging are purely the domain of the B2C sector. You just have to take a look at the importance of technology bloggers to the success of any new business technology launch. So much so that the influencer network of tech blogs, Netshelter, has just recently launched inPowered Stories: software specifically designed to place blogger reviews directly onto product pages as a kind of ‘advertorial’.
Technology & Business: Influential Bloggers
There are some highly influential people writing opinion leadership blogs that garner huge influence in technology and business. Examples would be Eric Savitz, San Francisco Bureau Chief for Forbes, who writes the popular Tech Trader Daily blog, covering the latest tech and investing news, or Jay Yarow of Business Insider, Silicon Alley Insider and BusinessWeek.
IT Manager Daily recently published its annual Top 100 Most Influential Tech Bloggers.
Sam Narisi, Editor-in-Chief of IT Manager Daily, was quoted in Reuters as saying:
“The tech industry is changing more rapidly than ever, and it’s difficult to stay on top of things. … IT professionals, business decision makers, and interested consumers must find trusted sources that deliver cutting edge tech news, product information, and other content.”
Bloggers are often the first to report on new industry trends, and once established, they rate very highly in terms of trust. So it is clear that if you’re launching a new B2B product or service, the importance of bloggers cannot be ignored.
Influencer Matching: How to Find Bloggers in Your Industry
But how do you find the right bloggers to connect with for your business? Your PR agency should be able to help you out with this, and you can now do some of the digging yourself using an influencer matching platform such as BlogFrog. Relationships with bloggers can then be cultivated in the same way as those with journalists, although as all bloggers operate online, this process is often made much easier with social media. For tips on how to make a good impression and get results from relationships using social media, have a look at our new e-book (Top tip: It’s not just for students and job seekers!)
So what do you think?
Has your business seen tangible results from blogging? Do blogs lack credibility? Is blogging just for selling beauty products? We’d like to hear your views!
You might also be interested in:
Victoria TomlinsonChief executive, Northern Lights PR
Victoria on LinkedIn
Follow Victoria on Twitter
Ben PindarCommunications director, Northern Lights PR
Ben on LinkedIn
Follow Ben on Twitter
Helen RobinsonAssociate, Northern Lights PR
Jonny RossAssociate, Northern Lights PR