Blogging started as personal online diaries, Twitter popped up first as an internal podcasting platform and Facebook was born out of a frustrated date.
The journey of online publishing and social networks was never a grand plan but it is the evolution of humans playing on a web canvas that continues to surprise us with its speed, reach and role in influencing buying decisions, building trust and marketing personal and business brands.
A decade later the internet landscape is unrecognizable. We are all still learning about what works and what doesn’t.
A recent report on “Digital Influence” by Technorati Media provides some insights into the fast evolving landscape that provides some metrics on the digital landscape. It was created from information gleaned from over 6,000 influencers, 1,200 consumers and 150 top brand marketers.
Technorati Media has a reach of of approximately 130 million US unique visitors per month and has published reports in the past on the state of the blogsosphere.
Social media is a small part of digital advertising
The report shows that despite social media having enormous mind share it is only 10% of all digital advertising spending. It also reveals that online influencers such bloggers are not being included in marketing programs due to lack of metrics from the likes of Nielsen and Comscore and also the lack of understanding of the power they wield online.
1. Blogs have significant influence on purchase decisions
Blogs are one of the top online services to influence a purchase. When making overall purchase decisions consumers rank blogs rank third behind retail and brand sites. Despite this inflencing power brands are spending very little on blogging advertising and marketing initiatives with bloggers.
According to the Technorati Media research it seems this has more to do with a lack of metrics and the fragmentation that leads to their complexity as a purchasable medium.
In essence it seems it is too hard for brands to measure and buy advertising on blogs.
2. More Brands are on Instagram than Google+
When it comes to a social media presence the top three choices are clear. Facebook at 91%, Twitter at 85% and YouTube at 73%. The rest all then fall below 50%. What is surprising is that Google+ despite its rapid growth and its 500 million plus users is still struggling as a choice and relevance as a platform that brands believe adds value to their digital marketing.
Blogs have a significant place in the top eight being placed at 6th at 32% above Instagram and Google+.
3. Social is only 10% of the digital advertising budget
You would thinks that with all the noise online about Facebook and Twitter that it would be a big part of paid advertising. The reality is much different than the buzz.
The top 3 include:
- Display ads such as banner website advertising – 41%
- Search advertising such as Google Adwords – 19%
- Video advertising including YouTube – 14%
Total spending on social media advertising is only 10% across all social media networks with Facebook taking 57% of that pie. Blogs only obtain 5% of the overall advertising budget that is allocated to social.
What is interesting is that mobile is growing at 8%.
4. Over half of Brands have “earned” social media goals
Growing Facebook “likes is still the main objective for most marketers with website traffic, Facebook fans and Twitter followers following close behind. Brands are also placing major earned goals against landing page visits, Retweets and comments.
Pinterest followers and repins are in the top 10.
What I do find surprising is how low the importance email has as an earned goal metric.
5. Brands aren’t taking much notice of Klout
When it comes to selecting which influencers to work with then the following metrics are the top four are:
- Audience index from Comscore and Nielsen
- Basic blog statistics such as unique users and page views
Despite the only recent addition of Pinterest and Instagram to social media mind share they are in consideration as a an influencer metric.
Even though Klout, Peer index and Kred are on the list they rank as less than neutral.
6. If you want to be an influencer you need to blog
Influencers have realized that to have their voice heard on a social web then they need to have a blog. The power of the reach and velocity of online publishing supercharged by social media cannot be underestimated.
A third of influencers also said that they have been blogging for five or more years.
7. Text blogging dominates on influencers blogs
Despite the rise and use of multimedia it seems that text is still the main communication media. The magic of the written word is not going away anytime soon it appears
8. Facebook and Twitter dominate where influencers get social
Online influencers have realised that to communicate and message online that the two social networks that are mandatory are Facebook and Twitter. This can be seen in the blue metric below that shows Facebook is published to once a week 83% of the time and Twitter sits at 71%.
The rest such as LinkedIn and Google+ are not above 30%.
The research also show that Facebook and Twitter create the most referrals, the most shares and generates the most revenue.
9. The majority of influencers make revenue from blogging.
Despite nearly two-thirds of influencers making money from blogging for 80% it generates less than $10,000 per year in revenue. 11% make more than $30,000 per year and 4% make more than $100,000 per annum.
10. Banner advertising is the top revenue generator for bloggers
The top three by a large margin include banner advertising in top position with text ads and affiliate programs at two and three. Sponsored content such as sponsored articles, product reviews and brand content round out the top 6.
The number of banner ads is an interesting metric with only 1% having more than 10.
The report also makes some relevant insights into what the influencers major pain points were when being approached by brands.
Here are the top three.
- Brands expect that the bloggers time is available for free – 68%
- Pitches by brands are sometimes irrelevant – 50%
- Brands don’t listen to the blogger/influencers ideas about what works for their audience – 38%
It also appears that lack of knowledge of the role and the power of online influencers and the lack of available and trusted metrics is making it hard for brands to justify spending advertising budgets on influencer marketing.
Maybe that will change as measurement tools mature and brands realize the growing power of online bloggers and influencers.
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