How much influence do bloggers have over their readers?

Lorraine Murphy

There has been some debate about the impact influencers have on their followers in recent weeks. Here Lorraine Murphy shares the results of a survey of more than 12,500 blog readers about issues including sponsored content, which devices they use, and would they want to meet their favourite blogger? 

Google Analytics tell us a lot in terms of online activity for the blogs we represent. But they fall far short of telling us about the attitudes and habits of their communities. We wanted to get more of an understanding of who these readers were, why they read, how they feel about brands on their favourite blogs, and where they shop.

What we did

We built a 64-question survey, which takes 10-15 mins for a reader to complete. The survey was then rolled out to 19 individual influencers, with the opening page personalised in their own words. We also incentivised readers to by offering the chance to win a $150 voucher for the store/website of the influencer’s choice – one voucher per blog. 12,500 readers in total completed the surveys – far surpassing our target of 10,000 readers. That’s over 2,000 hours spent filling out the survey.

These hours gave us a goldmine of data across demographics, shopping habits, home, food, travel… and most importantly, the reader’s relationship with the blogger. We then overlaid these findings with what we know from the blogger’s Google Analytics to deliver the biggest blog reader survey undertaken in Australia.

So what did we learn?

Well first of all, 98 per cent of respondents were female, and 91 per cent were aged 18-54.

Full breakdown by age:

Under 18 – 2%

18-24 – 12%

25-34 – 34%

35-44 – 32%

45-54 – 13%

55-64 – 6%

65+ – 1%

Here are the six top insights we drew from the surveys – and what they mean for brands.

Insight 1 – Mobile access has overtaken desktop

Seven in 10 readers access the blog from a mobile or tablet device, with smartphones leading the charge at 48 per cent.

What it means: Optimise your websites! If bloggers are sharing links in their blog posts to brand sites, it’s more important than ever that those brand sites are mobile-optimised – otherwise the value of the link will drop instantly when readers land on a non-optimised site.

Insight 2 – Main reason for reading the blog is that it “feels like catching up with a friend”

The bloggers who ran the surveys are a diverse bunch – there are health, beauty, fashion, parenting, food and home bloggers in there. Regardless of the content area covered though, the main reason readers read is that they see the blogger as a friend – 40 per cent of readers put this as their primary motivation.

What it means: Brands need to consider this peer-to-peer dynamic when engaging with influencers – i.e: moving from a broadcast message (traditional advertising) to a conversational message. For example, you wouldn’t run up to two friends having a coffee and interrupt them with your brand message. The same applies for the online world – brands need to integrate respectfully into the conversation that’s already going on without them. My tip? Be guided by the blogger to help you achieve this successfully.

Insight 3 – Influencers effect behaviour change with their followers

As part of the surveys, we explored if and how the blogger influenced reader decisions in the offline world. When asked if they had ever implemented a tip or piece of advice shared by the blogger, 78 per cent of readers said they had and 10 per cent were unsure if they had. We also asked them if they had ever purchased a product or service recommended by the blogger – one in four said yes.

What it means: Online content affects offline behaviour so it’s important for brands to be part of that online conversation. Taking the time to educate key influencers about the product/service will also help the follower take the message you want them to from the content.

Insight 4 – They read branded content

We specifically asked about how readers feel about branded content on their favourite blogs, as we have had many a brand manager or strategist ask if readers really read branded content.

The question we asked was: “Do you read branded content?”

• 53 per cent of readers said yes they do as they trust the influencer to bring them information that they would be interest in

• 39 per cent don’t differentiate between regular and branded content – even though branded content is clearly labelled as such upfront

• 8 per cent don’t read branded content

What it means: The influencer’s role (in the reader’s eyes) is to act as filter for them. When the blogger partners with a brand, their readers judge that brand message as being worthy of consideration. When an influencer chooses their brand partners carefully and ensures that their branded content blends seamlessly into their regular content, readers read it.

Insight 5 – There are different “buckets” of followers

An influencer’s community is not uniform across their various platforms (blog, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest). For example, 36 per cent of readers surveyed don’t also follow the blogger on Facebook, 86 per cent don’t follow them on Twitter and 65 per cent don’t follow them on Instagram.

What this means: The influencer’s community chooses to engage with them on the platform(s) of their choice. To ensure that all the different “buckets” of followers are captured, brands must see the activity through across all channels. This will maximise the reach and ROI of the activity.

Insight 6 – Followers want to move relationship offline

Most readers want to engage with their favourite blogger in the “real world” as well:

66 per cent want to meet the influencer real life

8 per cent don’t want to meet them

26 per cent are unsure (we haven’t managed to figure that one out!)

What this means: There is real potential in extending an influencer campaign offline via meet-ups or exclusive events as it generates considerable goodwill towards the brand facilitating this real-life contact amongst readers. For example, we recently held a series of reader events across Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast with our client Olympus blog readers to launch a new camera.

I hope this peek under the bonnet of Australian blog readers has been helpful. If you’d like more where this came from and to learn from brands and bloggers leading this space, join us at two upcoming Influencer Forum events:

• Melbourne, Friday November 7 – speakers: L’Oreal, Origin Energy, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Daily and Show+Tell

• Sydney, Wednesday November 12 – speakers: Woolworths, Olympus, Fat Mum Slim andNot Quite Nigella

For more information click here.

Lorraine Murphy is the founder of The Remarkables Group


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