Are Blogs the new White Papers?
Blogs are bringing about changes in the way we live, the way we buy, the way we interact; giving a chance to speak and be heard to millions who would not otherwise bother giving their opinion in mainstream media. The highly interactive medium of blogs has altered the way information is spread.
The audience for blogs and white papers is similar, although bloggers spend more time online, are younger, more tech savvy, educated, earning high incomes and having broadband connections.
When Bob Bly asked marketers their preference for Blogs Vs Whitepapers in August 2005, the response was markedly tilted towards whitepapers for their technical depth and insight. Whitepapers are effective in increasing ROI's as they deal with the technical details of a product. While blogs might offer a wider audience, they will likely not connect to the target audience, so it's a wasted effort.
The trick is to use both blogs and whitepapers in conjunction, each one playing off the others strengths. Blogs are a great way to create buzz in the media and invite comments and discussions and direct traffic to whitepapers. Blogs also provide a format for connecting to people and answering frequently asked questions from the whitepaper.
Blogs are sprouting everywhere it seems. It is estimated that over 12 million Americans have their own blogs. The total number of blogs in the US doubles every five months with 700,000 being created every single day, of which 76,000 shut down due to lack of traffic.
At the recent Chicago DM Days & Expo '06 organized by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing, Dana VanDen Heuvel, director of RSS and Blog advertising at Pheedo explained,
"RSS is the new e-mail, blogs are the new whitepapers and podcasting is the new webinar". "[Anywhere] from 10-30% of Internet users are using blogs". Forrester Research's estimate of 10% is the most conservative, EMarketer thinks it's 14%, Pew 25%, Princeton Survey 27% and comScore Networks 30%.
Blogs are making a significant dent as consumers are becoming highly skeptical to mainstream advertising and are increasingly resisting advertising to gain control of decisions. Media sources are also becoming fragmented and targeting the right customer is becoming crucial. The underlying force is that consumers are demanding higher accountability.
The easy access to blogs sites is changing the cultural and social thread of society and influencing us day in and day out. The Washington Post report on the new comScore Media Metrix study shows the number of people posting or reading blogs on blogger.com has increased by 528% from Feb 2005 to Feb 2006. At the present, very few IT professionals read blogs when looking for technical information, less than 10% according to MarketingSherpa as compared to 45% downloading whitepapers. As blogging becomes more commonplace, its influence will extend to technical writing.
The key factor that will control and influence the growth of blogs in the field of technical knowledge is credibility. While whitepapers are established sources of trustworthy information, the instant publishing factor of blogs is easily exploited. Blogs will not be able to compete with whitepapers until there is an established practice of checking facts and sources. As blogs become more accepted and read beyond the niche segment, readers will insist on greater personal responsibility as well as liability. Essentially, it will be a case of the survival of the fittest.
Are Blogs the new White Papers?
- » Published on April 07, 2006
- » Type: Opinion
- » Filed under: