Sunday, April 23, 2006

More than 200 million blogs - threat to brand management

More than 200 million people now keep a web diary of their own and their collective opinions are now a force to be reckoned with when it comes to brand protection and development of an advertising campaign.

Their collective voice is generating over 100 million pages every day of comment on a wide range of issues, many of which involve products and services people use.

For a long time now community sites like tripadvisor have been influencing consumer behaviour, yet many large corporations have hidden their heads in the sand, not really knowing how to respond.

While tripadvisor is not a blog, it is an example of what happens when hundreds of thousands of consumers start to share experiences online and the results can be devastating.

Just type in the name of a large hotel into Google and see who comes up highest - the official hotel site or the traveladvisor page with comments from people who have recently stayted there? And then the question is who do online readers trust the most? Answer: the majority of people trust community comment more than official advertising.

When community comments are loud and negative, corporations are probably wasting their time with expensive sites and online advertising campaigns.

The age of spin and hype is over. The third millennium is about revelation, reality and shared experience.

That's why so many companies are now quietly asking their own staff to go onto blogs and bulleting boards as well as other community sites to post nice positive comments, pretending to be customers.

It is just the start of a new era in advertising, branding and product promotion.

The lesson is this: get the product right every time and the online community will help sell it for you at zero cost. Get it wrong and you'll rapidly be out of the game. While that has to some extent always been true, in future brand elevation and destruction will happen faster than many marketing teams can even plan a campaign.

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