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Digital Influence: Blogs Beat Social Networks for Driving Purchases

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Blogs are more influential than social networks in shaping consumers’ opinions and purchase decisions, according to Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report.

Even so, brands seem to be investing more on other social channels, particularly Facebook, than on blogging.

Below, additional findings from the 2013 Digital Influence Report, based on surveys conducted among 1,200 consumers, 150 top brand marketers, and 6,000 digital influencers.

When making decisions about what to buy, consumers rank blogs as the third most influential digital resource (31.1%), behind retail sites (56%) and brand sites (34%).


However, social networks do play a role in influencing purchases: 30.8% of consumers surveyed cite Facebook as an influential source, 27% cite YouTube, 27% cite LinkedIn, and 20% cite Google+.

Why Consumers Follow Brands

Consumers engage with brands via social networking sites for various reasons:

  • Facebook users tend to “like” brands to learn about products and services (56%), keep up with brand-related activities (52%), and for sweepstakes and promos (48%); some 32% interact with brands to provide feedback.
  • Twitter users follower brands mostly to keep up with brand activities (57%) and learn about products and services (47%); some 27% do so to provide feedback.
  • YouTube users engage with brands mostly to learn about products and services (61%), keep up with brand-related activities (41%), and provide feedback (23%).
  • Pinterest users follow brands primarily to learn about products and services (56%), keep up with brand activities (35%), and for sweepstakes/promos (28%).
  • Instagram users follow brands to keep up with brand-related activities (41%), learn more about products and services (39%), and make purchases (27%).

Smaller Communities Have More Influence

Consumers agree the value of online communities comes from sharing information and ideas and not necessarily from the size of a community: 54% say smaller communities have greater influence on a topic than larger ones.

Digital and Social Media Spend

Overall, top brands are spending three quarters of their digital budget on display advertising (41%), search (19%), and video content (14%).

By contrast, spending on social channels constitutes only 10% of brands’ digital marketing spend, on average.

Facebook accounts for the greatest share (57%) of that social spend, and YouTube and Twitter each command a 13% share of social spend.

Spending on influencers accounts for just 6% of brands’ social budgets, and blogging accounts for about 5% of social budgets. 

Digital Influencers Rely on Blogs

More than eight in ten (86%) surveyed digital influencers publish a blog. Among them, 88% blog on their own behalf. Moreover, for most (59%) influencers, blogging is the primary means of content distribution.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social platforms for influencers who blog:

  • 92% have an account on Facebook and 83% post to the site on a weekly basis.
  • 88% have an account on Twitter, and 71% post to the site weekly.
  • 76% have a LinkedIn account; however, only 27% post to the site weekly.

Among influencers who blog, Facebook and Twitter are also the top platforms for generating referrals, shares, and revenue, according to the study.

How Influencers Measure Success

Influencers rank page views of blogs or website as the best measure of their own success (52%). Social follower levels such as Facebook "likes" (49%), Twitter followers (48%), and user comments on either on Facebook (47%) or blogs (47%) are nearly equally important metrics.

When sizing up their peers, however, Facebook likes (34%) and Twitter followers (39%) gain the most attention among influencers.

About the data: Findings from the 2013 Digital Influence Report are based on surveys conducted in the fourth quarter of 2012 among 1,200 consumers, 150 top brand marketers, and 6,000 digital influencers.


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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.

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  • by Nick Stamoulis Mon Mar 18, 2013 via web

    You have to remember that on a blog you (as the brand) are completely in control of the experience. No other social platform can give that to you. Facebook and Twitter might be great for engaging but there are a lot of distractions that can pull people away at moment's notice.

  • by Sarah Mon Mar 18, 2013 via web

    Do you have anymore insight as to how Influencers are considering Likes and Fans as a measure of success? If page views of a Blog is considered the measure, then wouldn't site views or content clicks from social media be considered the measure? We are working on defining this ourselves and it would be nice to know how others are calculating ROI of money spent on social media. We are looking to specifically dollars spent to the value of a 'like.'

    Second, while the heaviest spend is with Facebook, I think it would be a beneficial side note that Twitter has a very high minimum spend for businesses. You can spend $500 with Facebook and see quite a bit of return. Not so with Twitter, their minimum is $5000 and on-going spend minimum is $25,000.

  • by Lenna Mon Mar 18, 2013 via web

    Hi, Sarah.

    As a start, I'd suggest taking a look at Technorati's full report. It has more information on influencers, their preferred metrics, and the ROI they're generating across the various channels they use.

    Thanks,
    Lenna

  • by David Schwartz Mon Mar 18, 2013 via web

    Display ads? Please elaborate.

  • by Dennis O'Malley Mon Mar 18, 2013 via web

    Hi Lenna - great post and I look forward to reading the complete reports. But given that blogs are all in one category (no breakdown between brand blogs, influencer blogs, etc), wouldn't the social networks have to be grouped together as well for a fair comparison as to what is more influential? I think an interesting breakdown is to understand that these are the mediums - but at ReadyPulse we have seen the true influence lies not in the medium, but in the content itself, and who the content producer was. Thanks again for the great post.

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