Content Marketing Blog

How blog comments influence decision making

For all the time and effort that goes in to building sophisticated online marketing campaigns, word of mouth remains a powerful driver when it comes to influencing purchasing decisions.

According to a Nielsen survey, 77 per cent of consumers would be more inclined to buy something if a friend or family member had recommended it.

But as the internet becomes an increasing presence in all aspects of our lives, it seems comments posted online are beginning to have a similarly significant influence over where we spend our hard-earned dollars.

From blogs and social media to forums and popular review sites, what’s said (or written) on the internet is helping to determine how we feel about products and brands.

In fact, the weight people put on the opinions expressed in online comments could in some cases be on a par with official announcements from recognised public bodies, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Washington State University wanted to test the theory that parents had been deciding not to vaccinate their children against measles because of what they had been reading online.

They fabricated two public service announcements and showed them to a group of people. One of the blog posts, supposedly from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told people to get vaccinated against measles. Meanwhile, another post from the National Vaccine Information Council encouraged people not to get the vaccination.

The researchers then made up a series of fictitious comments underneath the blogs from people with unisex names.

What they found was that the respondents were equally swayed by the comments as they were by the blog articles themselves.

“That kind of blew us away,” said Ioannis Kareklas, one of the researchers. “People were trusting the random online commenters just as much as the PSA itself.”

The power of online comments, even when those comments don’t come from an official, authoritative source, presents a real challenge from brands.

If something as important as a measles vaccination can be influenced by anonymous comments on a blog post, it’s likely that the same is true for less risky or life-changing decisions, such as where to buy your car insurance or which recruitment company to hire.

One of the strongest arguments for building a content marketing strategy is that these online debates around your business are already happening.

Whatever your business does, there is information out there right now that your potential customers are consuming to help them decide who should get their business. Content marketing is your chance to make sure some of that information being consumed is coming from you.

Posted by Dylan Brown

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