The Power of Voice through Blogging.

Ok.. it’s been almost a month since my last post as I’ve been very pre-occupied… well, mostly due to the constant Twitter updates that is just as satisfying; a little more due to facebook and their addictive games which I could always participate in between breaks; but more so because of the endless attention required of a growing toddler who has learnt to walk and always able to grab mommy at any time and every time. *phew*

Anyways, I have been very busy with work and I thought it may take me another one week or two before I have the energy to blog again but something just hit me tonight and I have this strong urge to write an entry.

See, there was this discussion on blogging and how some people could still regard blogs as an unimportant marketing tool. Really, at this age and time (and this, I meant the 21st Century – not my ‘age’) I am perplexed at such an opinion. No, it’s not because I am a blogger myself. I am saying this because anyone who’s familiar with the internet and use the internet as a source of info would know and could see how much has changed over the years… how blogs have evolved from what they were before – an avenue to voice out concerns/sharing of information to one of the most effective marketing tools nowadays.

I was even more perplexed that this opinion came from a successful entrepreneur who was taken in by the advise of her friend (also a successful entrepreneur in the same industry) that a blog is not important, and that she should focus more on revenue-generating efforts – an advise given by a person who owns a personal blog with plenty of links to reputable connections in the industry, advertisement spaces and clearly stated contact details for, what else – income generating opportunity! I was about to open my mouth wide but stopped immediately since my advise doesn’t come free that easily and I shall say no more ☺

No longer can one say that blogging is a waste of time or rubbish. Yes, you get some people who writes rubbish but who’s to judge when they have hundreds of ‘followers’ on their blogs. It’s no longer about the content… but more of the following, readership and connections on a personal level. Some say it is no longer fun blog-hopping because one tends to read too many advertorials and entries on online contests but I guess, this sort of marketing and promotions work… or else no advertisers or sponsors would venture into such tactics – it works!

One is no longer subjected to the confinements of one’s home with house chores to be completed. Instead, many housewives have now started to blog to gain additional income (although I am not sure how much one can really earn from sponsored posts/ads like nuffnang, on average). Housewives are also smarter by pursuing their hobbies and selling their products online, through their blogs, that are also filled with links to other bloggers and a huge number of online conversations.

Big corporations in Malaysia have started to open up and welcome bloggers to their events and functions, as they know how powerful it is when certain messages are exchanged in blogs. In this case, bloggers are treated somewhat similar to media practitioners because some people (moi included) do not have that much trust in paid media due to the perception that adspend always (or most of the time) influences the angle of an article unlike independent opinions of bloggers, who at most times provide an objective opinion and approachable at a more personal level through the interactive environment - be it in the comments section or ‘Shout Box’ displayed in their blogs. I, for one, was privileged to be invited by MAS to their Cabin Crew Training for bloggers as they felt that it was important for us bloggers to educate the public of their new motto of Malaysian Hospitality and that cabin crewmembers are not just pretty faces.

Many companies have adopted and accepted the concept of including bloggers into their PR and marketing acitivities. One just cannot discount the importance and strength of published information on a blog, as I learnt back in 2005 just after the Tsunami that badly hit our neighbours and some northern parts of our country. In the news sense, information traveled faster than the main news channels; footages from the catastrophe that were aired on national and international news networks were sourced from blogs; and what I remember most was how a mat saleh baby, whose family had fallen victim to the giant waves in Phuket, was identified by their relatives in Germany (I think!) from photos of him posted in blogs. These, I found out based on my research for an IT article I was required to submit for a client's newsletter. From then on, I discovered the satisfaction of blogging, made many friends through blogging, and of course, met the one from blog-hopping.

Now, almost 5 years later, companies not only welcome bloggers' opinions, many have built special blogs for employees/customers/registered bloggers to post entries/reviews on their blogs. Even politicians have accepted this fact – that opinions posted on blogs can be powerful and how many have tried to create a monitoring system for Malaysian bloggers. Of course, this ain’t easy. Hence, we can now find many blogs of our politicians, all who fell into the saying, "If you can't beat them, join them."… some write their own entries, while some probably use the services of ghost writers.

In the US alone, the acceptance of blogs as a powerful source of info is so overwhelming that even CEOs blog. Sad to say, the only CEO in Malaysia who blogs is none other than Tony Fernandes (I’m not sure… is he a Datuk Seri now?). No wonder he can be such an admired corporate figure… it’s this acceptance and moving along with the times allow him to be the pioneer of many wonderful opportunities…

I, for one, who’s an internet savvy individual – who uses the internet to find information and learns from what she discovers every time, would have to totally say that blogging is an important tool for whatever reasons – be it for marketing purposes or even branding… not necessarily branding/portraying a certain image for your products. Blogging also creates branding for yourself, through the eyes of your readers from what you write. This is because you allow people to get to know you better since what you write is usually seen as a personal opinion; you reach out a massive audience as your blog can be accessed publicly (if you do not choose to make it private) and there are millions out there, at least, who, like me, uses the net as a main source of information. Heck, just one keyword typed in a search engine will display hundreds if not thousands of blog lists that relate to a certain view or reviews that you are searching for. More often than not, those opinions count because those are the information that you obtain FOC.

Heck, I no longer buy beauty magazines as I sometimes find them with too many adverts that do not appeal to me and articles that are downright boring. For now, I am very happy to read two beauty blogs whom I have begun to trust in their suggestions and recommendations, even though I have only been following them for a couple of months. Part of my decision to try out a facial session at Lancome was due to limited information on some beauty brands that I was looking for and the Lancome Beauty Institute in Bangsar Village II was at the top of the list, written by one of them. That was enough to get me curious and how I got totally hooked after the experience under those warm, magical hands of Tiffany ;P

Same goes for you, if you have not been blogging yet. I am not persuading you to… but if you underestimate the power of blogs, get these facts:
- 22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world are blogs
- 51% of blog readers shop online
- blog readers average 23 hours online each week
- 89% of companies surveyed say they think blogs will be more important in the next five years (this is an American survey
- there are 500,000 active bloggers in Malaysia, ranking us among the highest in the world after Indonesia and EU (70% of the election results were influenced by information found in blogs)
- more and more bloggers have garnered additional income from blogging

If you are seeking to reach your audience and brand yourself to be more approachable and accessible, this is one great way to do it. But if you can’t see that, then you lose out in the massive opportunity and just be a follower, rather than the force that you want to portray to them. Hence, you lose out to your competitor who actively blogs.

Geesh... now this is definitely a free advise, huh?

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Skutik said...

sayang... u are totally right! Before i went to A'Famosa Resort last May, i heard a lot of negative comments about A'Famosa... i googled and found out about one blogger's experience at A'Famosa and she said it wasn't soooo bad - good to go for 1 TIME only! After I went, it was GREAT and really good to go for 1 TIME only!! LOL...

Kalau nk crita pasal shopping online pulak... too long... tapi what i can say marketing thru blogs is more effective than prints or tvc or radio. I'm already addicted with online shopping dah ni :)

Anis Zainal-Pacleb said...

owh yeah babe! I soooo agree with you about the benefits of blogging....

I'd usually google for information, tak kira la how big or small my purchase is or where to stay bila gi holidays.... and even more so when it comes to educational matters e.g. pre-school, language class, primary school, books for early readers...

Anddddd...... the best thing is I get to make new friends through blogging, ya' know a wonderful new fren like you....hihiiiii....

p/s : I read 'My Women Stuff' too!

rokh said...

i totally agree. we have to move with times and everyone knows that currently the internet is the 'source' of information!

Cosmic_GurL said...

Plus, ive met some really cool and wonderful ppl who has become my friends through blogging...

toughcookie said...

dear nina,
plus, how much more fun that we found out we both blog, kan? ;)

anis dear,
that's probably one of the best part - of mommies like us relating to each other's posts and how memorable it was our first meet at khareyana... something i truly cherish forever :)

you read my women stuff too? hey... gorgeous intelligent mommies think alike! hehe...

toughcookie said...

hi rokh,
guess us being bloggers make understanding this fact pretty easy...

hi sherie,
i second that :)