Monday, April 23, 2007

Predicting the Future of Blogs

As we wrapped up our last class we discussed the class blog, its trials and triumphs, but we didn't discuss WHY we blog. So, why do we blog? The class blog allowed for an exchange of ideas, making us more involved in the class and also demonstrated the WOM principle of community. Whether it was intended or not, our class used the blog to apply principles and terms learned in class to "outside" examples, emphasizing the experiential education that Northeastern is so famous for.

Additionally, businesses can use their blogs as a marketing tool, promoting new products, asking for consumer feedback so they can continue to build evangelists and establishing themselves as experts in their fields.

So following in Justin Kirby's footsteps as he made predictions on the future of WOM in the final chapter of Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz, and Word of Mouth Revolution, I would like to make a prediction on the future of the blogsphere.

1. Bloggers will move towards expressing themselves in a concise and clear way

The current convenience of "internet speak" in the era of instant messaging and texting has trickled down into the blogsphere. I believe that as this phase wears off, more bloggers will improve on their writing skills to garner increased audience and credibility (and for businesses profitability).

2. Pay for Post Blogs will decrease

Although current “pay per post” bloggers must disclose their associations to avoid schilling or stealth marketing, I believe that people still see these blogs as tainted; not as genuine as a blogger who has no motivation to blog other than the eight motivations for engaging in WOM that we identified on the first day of class.

3. Advertising on blogs will increase

Due to the decrease in pay for post blogs, I believe advertising on blogs will increase in the form of banner ads or links within blog posts. I see this frequently on popular blogs such as Perez Hilton and Dooce. Heather Armstrong, the blogger who runs dooce blogs about her family, her dog, and her life in Utah and advertising on her page is in the form of banner ads, not posts. On Perez Hilton’s blog, this is slightly different (as he does a fair amount of posting about upcoming music, artists etc that are promotions). However, I’ve seen on his blog that the background will become an advertisement and he also uses banner ads.

4. Corporations will want to establish metrics to measure blog ROI

Many businesses both large and small have developed blogs as a marketing and communications tool. In fact, I have attempted this for my own company, Bring to Light Photography, by establishing a blog (though I need to work on updating more often!). Many photographers across the country have started blogs in an effort to keep in contact with their current clients, offering them “sneak peaks” of their session images, and also attracting new potential clients. But how are businesses to measure the effectiveness of their blog? One way in which I am currently doing this is by using a stat program to count hits, returning visits, and locations of people reading my blog. This however doesn’t measure the intentions of blog readers to invest in my services. A metric needs to be established to measure ROI for time and resources spent blogging (perhaps by running a blog reader special offer??)