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B2B Bloggers and Influence: Part I

Nothing – not even a finger buffet served on two separate tables – splits a room of B2B communication professionals down the middle like the issue of bloggers and influence.

We call the two groups “purists” and “progressives”.

Purists doubt.  Some subscribe to Doctor Johnston’s mantra that “no man but a blockhead ever wrote, but for money.”

Others are more sceptical.  A senior press officer of a global enterprise once described blogging to me “as the ramblings of lonely geeks sitting at computers – in their pants.”  Don’t be shocked – the bedroom-dwelling, scantly-clad, burger-munching blogger is a staple of the purist imagination.

Purists believe influence is based on motives, trust and experience.  Journalists apparently have them: bloggers apparently don’t.  These assumptions, particularly in B2B, need tested.

Motives
Journalists are professional.  Their career depends on exhaustive research methods and quality writing.  Bloggers are amateur.  But the career still counts.  You don’t build a reputation among future employers, partners and customers by spouting dross.

Trust
A new survey suggests consumers have limited trust in blogger reviews.  The same survey, however, scores the views of known experts and personal contacts highly.  In B2B circles many bloggers are highly networked experts.  That’s pretty trustworthy I’d say.

Experience
Nobody can deny the value of experience.  Journalists spend years learning how to report and write.  B2B bloggers spend years learning how to use, integrate and work technology.  Ask yourself who knows the most about servers.

Progressives, on the other hand, believe the blogging community is of real substance and primed for the truth.  Journalist and author Thomas L. Friedman wrote: “when this community is on to something real…it can create as much energy, buzz, and hard news as any network or major newspaper.”

Journalists, paradoxically, are often progressive.

While communicators cling to the journalistic ideal, journalists are rapidly evolving to embrace the dynamism and community spirit of the blogging medium.

The B2B blogging community began integrating journalistic motives, trust and experience.  It is now integrating journalists.

Purists find it easier to deny the influence of bloggers than deal with it.  It’s simply unsustainable.  As journalist-turned-blogger Dennis Howlett laments: “I’m a blogger not a journalist. There’s a BIG difference that few understand.”

In Part II we’ll explore that difference and ask: how can B2B marketers influence bloggers?  We’ll see the progressives among you there next week.

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4 Responses to “B2B Bloggers and Influence: Part I”

  1. Emma Dunstone

    IMHO the phrase ‘perception is reality’ is relevant to this debate. If influencers have a perception at odds to a company’s brand, and make that perception known and influence others, or influence others to influence others (their own blogs, RTs etc) then that perception can very easily become a reality. Like it or not.

    Brands can no longer control what is written (or is not written) about them on the internet, but they CAN engage with those influencers out there. And that’s the key.

    Emma (a progressive, of course)

  2. Neil Stoneman

    Very true Emma. Sometimes people seem keen to put their own view of the blogging community above that of their target audience. They might choose not to listen to bloggers, but it’s a dangerous sport to imagine that nobody else does.

    B2B bloggers can be customers, partners, analysts and competitors. It’s what they do, as well as what they write, that gives them an increasing share of influence.

  3. John Bottom

    If all blogs were as well written as this one, purists would have a tougher job arguing their case. Nice one.

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