The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
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Baskin did some homework before deciding to launch a formal blog monitoring program. Undergear, for example, has many gay men as customers, she says, and she discovered gay men read blogs much more than the average Internet user. 72% of U.S. gay men who use the Internet read blogs, according to a September 2007 Syracuse University study. 44% of all U.S. Internet users do so, according to an October 2007 Harris Interactive survey.
“Gay men have a strong affinity for blogs and consequently are a perfect audience for a social marketing program,” she says.
Bloggers routinely are on the hunt for content that enhances their text posts. One way Baskin plans to use the regular results of the blog monitoring program is to reach out to bloggers and share Undergear online content. The pictures of Undergear’s scantily clad male models, for example, are attention grabbers on display on numerous sites across the web. “Our imagery is much appreciated by our audience. It’s a natural fit for asset-sharing with bloggers,” Baskin says.
So what’s the payoff for investing in a blog monitoring program? After listening to what bloggers are saying and identifying more relevant blogs, then reaching out to bloggers with focused public relations efforts and online content, Baskin predicts increased sales as a result of a greater presence in the blogosphere. “Our effort will lead to gains in natural search and build brand awareness,” she says, “Increased brand awareness will grow the business through increased traffic, product interest and customer acquisition.”
Like Icon Estates and Screenlife, Undergear is at the very beginning of its effort to figure out what bloggers can do for its business and how it can potentially work with and influence bloggers and their readers. For retailers, navigating the blogosphere is a journey into uncharted waters.
“We’re just scratching the surface right now with what we’re seeing,” says Wood of Icon Estates. “Blog monitoring and outreach is in its infancy. We’re at the beginning of the curve and there is a long way to go.”