If you blog, if you do product reviews or offer an opinion on your blog, Twitter or Facebook, your friends and network connections are listening. Not only are they listening, they're taking your words to heart.
Blogher, the women's online blog network, did a 2011 Social Media Matters study and discovered that women trust their blogger friends more than they trust the celebrities pocketing millions to promote products. Well, it's only natural! Even if a brand if offering *F*R*E*E* stuff, it's a small payment compared to what the Kim Kardashians of the world get to 'mention' the make-up they use. Even a payment from an ad network is far less to bloggers than payment to TV or movie stars pitching...paper towels.
Let's face it - we all want to make money at what we do. I do sponsored posts now and then. I don't write about any product I wouldn't use. Or haven't used. I do book reviews occasionally and yes, I get those for free. Would I turn down a million dollars to promote, oh, say... the latest fashion from Sarah Jessica Parker? Probably not - but, I'd openly SAY - I don't care for her or her stuff. (so they likely wouldn't give me the million dollars, darn it!)
Here's the scoop - according to this article on the Fox News site (not a place I visit very often), "...personal branding and marketing guru Dan Schawbel said it simply comes to the fact that the average American can't identify with Tinseltown types."
He's further quoted in the article saying, "Corporations who are trying to target a specific market should invest in several blogs that cater to that market. It's a cheaper, more effective and measurable way of advertising."
Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder and COO of Blogher is also quoted. Here's what she said, "There is a definite trend we've seen where people trust th eopinion of a regular person, we trust any person force more than any corporate force when it comes to getting advice and recommendations."
Interestingly, however, the latest Trust Barometer from Edelman, says we trust "people like yourself" LESS than we have in the past. From 2009 to 2011, the trust barometer went from 46% in favor of people like us, to 43% trusting people like us. They show a 70% response to trusting "an academic or expert."
Ok...that makes sense. If I'm looking for health information, key industry information, knowledge on finances or nutrition or any number of topics, I do want an 'expert' opinion. Here's the glitch in Edelman's report - IMBO - we women appreciate input from the Dr. Oz's of the world and from key resources like Katie Couric or Diane Sawyer, but after they tell us what they feel is right or truthful, we go right back to our gal pals, and ask them.
You're probably one. I'm one. My daughter is one. My granddaughter, even at the tender age of 13, is one. I want to hear the nitty-gritty from women I know. I value other women's opinions. If you do a product review on a camera, I'm listening more closely to you than to the blogger over at TechCrunch, although I'll listen to him or her, also.
In the end, it's about personal relationships that grow as you get to know the blogger better. It's about women knowing their friends will always be honest with them. It's about being able to have that conversation - not something you can do with Ellen DeGeneres or Rachael Ray or Oprah. We value them because they at least try to relate to us. But, in the end, they're celebrities. They get paid more in one day than we'll make in a lifetime. When they promote products, they're depositing big chuncks of cash in their bank account... when we promote products, we're probably receiving enough to go to the store or the vet or the daycare center...and then, it's gone.
Here's the big question: when do bloggers stop being trusted 'friends' and turn into celebrities? How big do you have to be... how much cash does a brand have to throw at a blogger before her readers will begin to wonder if she's sold out?