Internet has changed the way in which companies interact with their customers and communicate about their brand, their values and their products or services. Social medias have become a must for brands. As communication tools, social medias allow to reinvent and develop the link between the brand and its consumers through the way to spread its brand image and improve its brand awareness.
BLOGGERS & CONSUMERS
Internet appears like a communication tools for companies but also like a way to be well informed both for brands and consumers. On one hand, companies have the opportunity to collect information about customer’s needs, desires and behaviours. Moreover, Internet offers the possibility to touch a big part of the population that spend much time surfing on the web per week. On the other hand, consumer’s can have information about a brand, its products, its values and even the quality of its products. Indeed, customer’s can have an access to forum discussions, blogs and interviews to collect opinions about companies and products. Today, more and more customers visit different blogs and forums to have an opinion about a product that they plan to buy. According to a Technorati’s enquiry in 2011, 42% of consumers use blogs as a source of information and 30% buy the product after these information. Bloggers can be considered as prescribers.
BLOGS & BRANDS
Currently, for brands, everything is good to catch the attention of famous bloggers: release, sending gifts, invitations to private events, parties for launches… Thus, when we are browsing the “blogosphere”, when we are following a blog, it is common to discover some articles about a test of a product, a demonstration with a video, where a blogger, that has received an item offered by the brand, give his proper opinion about it. Brands and communication agencies called it the “influence marketing”. The most famous bloggers can amount more than 5000 views per day. So, as you can guess it, these notable blogs have not been slow to catch brands’ attention. But how far brands are they willing to go to place their products on a famous blog?
AND WHAT ABOUT ETHIC? BRANDS ARE THEY ENTIRELY HONEST AND RESPECTFUL? ARTICLES PUBLISHED BY BLOGGERS ARE THEY REALLY WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT THE PRODUCT OR JUST WHAT THE BRAND WANT TO BROADCAST? DO BRANDS HAVE A CONTROL OVER THESE ARTICLES? AND BLOGGERS? ARE THEY REALLY HONEST WITH THEIR READERS? ARE THEY PAID BY COMPANIES TO DO THAT?
Lots of question about this subject… We don’t really know if the blogger is honest or if he just says that the brand wishes in exchange to gifts or money a company sends him… On the other hand, we don’t know if the brand has a power, an influence on what the blogger will write about the product. Brands would have more interest to respect the independence, opinion and choice of bloggers. However, some are very directs… Pressures, gifts delivered at home without informing the blogger before, harassment to talk about it in the blog… All is “allowed” to convince famous bloggers to publish articles about the brand. According to the French magazine “liberation”, since 2009, advertisement overcame followed blogs with sponsored articles that are paid by brands to bloggers. From Technorati enquiry, 30% of professional bloggers would have been paid by brands in 2011 to publish sponsored articles. Some of them could be paid until 2000€ in France… And do customers know when the article is sponsored? In Finland, laws oblige bloggers to indicate if the product presented in the post is a present from the brand and if the article is sponsored. In France, that seems to be a little more complicated… Actually the law says that “Do not mention the fact that it is a sponsored article is considered as a untrustworthy commercial practices that can lead to 2 years of imprisonment and a fine of 37500€”. However, we can note two cases: transparency or not, depends on what the brand asked for… Indeed, some brands don’t want that the blogger specify that he works a partner with a brand for the article…
So, how to be sure of what bloggers are telling about a product and a brand? How to know if money or presents do not influence their opinion? This practice was a really good opportunity for brands’ advertising campaigns because it is a way to be close to customers, to know them better, to use their opinion to improve products… But, by dint of abusing to this way to broadcast and sometimes manipulate the reality, don’t you think that the brand image could suffer? What is your opinion about this?
This enquiry inspire me a question: Brands should favor honesty and bloggers’ independence or gamble on the control in order to manage its image and seduce customers at the expense of some moral values?