23 Jan Exec focuses on blogs as business tool
As 2006 begins, there is more information and technology out there than ever before – and according to Paul Gibler of the Credit Union Executives Society, choosing the right combination of the two will be key to prospering in the market.
“Marketing has to change and take new roads because there’s so much noise out there,” Gibler said, citing the endless amount of ads, e-mails and spam, faxes, search engines and video on demand that demands a user’s attention. “All these technology tools are contributing more and more to the buzz network.”
Gibler, vice president of professional development for CUES, spoke to the Madison chapter of the World Future Society last week about marketing developments revolving around new technology.
Clutter has led to what Gibler described as a fragmentation of existing media, as the consumer base becomes more and more selective about what information they want to access. They have a broad base to draw from, as Gibler estimated an average of 82 television stations in each home, over 4.4 billion Web pages indexed by Google and 25,000 Internet broadcast stations in operation.
Gibler focused on blogs as one of the most important new technologies because they combine many of the attributes customers look for in their media, such as choice, control and customization. More importantly, blogs build a sense of community with users, since the information is continually updated and users can add their own reactions.
“Mainstream media and the blog network are starting to converge. Bloggers can get information faster than high-speed media and tune it when it’s inaccurate, and the mass media is starting to catch on,” Gibler said.
These traits make the estimated 20 million blogs online today a valued tool for businesses, Gibler said, because they encourage the “hive behavior” that advertisers thrive on. In the blog community, information – as diverse as a key defect in bicycle locks and a remixed online cartoon – can spread through a word-of-mouth effort unmatched in other mediums.
Businesses such as General Motors have begun to take advantage of this developing trend, establishing blogs where customers can register complaints or comments about the company’s product and leave messages for executives. Additionally, companies have begun to hire professionals to monitor the traffic of individual blogs so they can buy ad on the most successful ones – ads that can range in cost from $10 to $3,000.
“If you are an industry professional or a politician or anyone who has their image in a public sphere, you are hiring people to monitor the Web,” Gibler said.
There is a danger in blog use, though. With the sheer diversity of blogs it is easy for users to restrict themselves to sources that only confirm what they already know, and avoid seeking out the other side of the story. It is important, he said, for both businesses and individuals to not limit their community development.
“It’s like I’m creating my own blinders,” Gibler said. “You can narrow your stream down to such an extent that your worldview is narrowed.”