BlogHer 2012 Study: Blogs Beat Facebook in Trust Test

BlogHer Original Post

Hi everyone,

Today BlogHer Inc. published our fifth annual study of women and social media, conducted with Vision Critical, a market research and analysis firm. The results of this study provide marketers who seek to grow audiences of women online with a key window into the opinions of women who use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social tools.

If you're reading this and you're a blogger, you're in for terrific news about your power and influence.

This survey of 2,000 U.S. women online makes a clear case -- using purchase behavior and a "trust test" pitting a blogger against Facebook updates and ads featuring a celebrity -- that blogs are the single best use of marketing and advertising dollars by brands that want to affect purchases by women online.

Women and Social Media Study 2012

This statement is certainly great news for BlogHer Inc., but you’ll soon see that the results, even from the sample of general population women fielded by an independent third party, speak for themselves – and reveal interesting nuances for users and marketers on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as well.

Below we cover:

> Why survey women and social media for five years in a row?

> What's BlogHer's methodology?

> What we learned:

  • Blog readership is a key indicator that a woman uses social media to find product info when she is about to buy
  • In a "trust test" most women chose blog reviews over Facebook friends or celebrity endorsements
  • The majority of women trust social media -- but we trust blogs best.

Why? Here goes:

>Why survey women and social media for five years in a row?

BlogHer runs this survey annually to track the value of blog communities to women online, and to help us sell advertising by showing how women are using a variety of social mediums -- blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and beyond.

We sell advertising because part of BlogHer's mission is to help women (and men!) bloggers get paid to write. We pay bloggers via a revenue share of the advertising services we sell on their blogs as well as across their sphere of influence in social media. Most of our advertising clients seek to grow their businesses by effectively reaching women, since women control 85 percent of discretionary household spending in the U.S. -- a disproportionate amount since we are just 53 percent of the population.

>What's your methodology?

In February 2012, BlogHer worked with market research and analysis firm Vision Critical and our own network of 37MM unique visitors to ask more than 2,000 women how they use social media tools and why. For the U.S. general online population sample we used Vision Critical's online panel to survey 1,011 women and 500 men ages 18-76. For the BlogHer sample, we surveyed 1,060 women and 21 men ages 18-76 across our 3,000+ blog communities.

>What we learned:

→More women buy based on recommendations from blogs than from Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

  • More than 61 percent of active blog readers in the U.S. say they have made purchases based on a blog recommendation, almost double the rate of Facebook’s and Twitter’s active users (33% and 31% respectively).
  • In the BlogHer community, the number of readers who converted blog recommendations into purchases soars to 87 percent.

→Blog readership is a key indicator that a woman uses social media to find product info when she is about to buy

  • 59% of the women in the U.S. general population who actively use social media, report that they turn to online or to social media as part of their purchase process. Which means that 41 percent do not!
  • But when you look at women in the general population who read blogs daily, the number who turn online to drive their purchasing rises to 81%. And in the BlogHer community? 92% turn to online and social to inform their purchasing.
  • So with all the advertising dollars pouring into social media, how can marketers aim those dollars effectively? By aiming for women who read blogs, and trying to catch them early in the process. Only 23 percent of general population women overall go online or to social media as the very first step of their purchasing process, but that leaps to 35 percent among women in the general population who read blogs daily -- and to 49 percent or half of BlogHer's community.

→In a "trust test" most women chose a sponsored blog review as more trustworthy than a Facebook conversation or celebrity endorsement

Blogs Won the Trust Test

  • The blog review was ranked the most trustworthy by both women online and the BlogHer community. I should note that these results were NOT filtered by active blog readers , so it provides Facebook with the greatest advantage given its widespread adoption. However, despite Facebook’s higher adoption rate, it did not drive higher trust in this case.
  • We believe think the survey makes the case that blog conversations are the single best use of marketing and advertising dollars by brands that want to grow their reach to women online.

→More details on the Trust Test (if you don't care about this, skip down past the italics to our question for you: Why do women trust blogs best?) 

We showed women three different images of online marketing and asked them to compare the campaigns. People who took the survey clicked on each creative to see it full-size. The three campaigns (pictured below and in our survey) were:

(Campaign #1) A sponsored review by a blogger on a blog, including:

  • Full disclosure that this review is sponsored
  • A nice picture that is more personal, as a blogger would likely do -- which does not work to the blog's advantage, because BlogHer's studies show photos of food to drive higher clickthrough in advertising
  • A substantive review in the blogger's own words
  • No BlogHer branding or review badge to avoid either positive or negative bias (our sponsored campaigns include both textual and graphic disclosure)

(Campaign #2) A Facebook friends campaign, including

  • Starts with an enticing question, so the promotion is not obvious or a turn-off
  • A beautiful picture of food, which again we find drives higher clickthrough on BlogHer
  • An active conversation and more than one comment with a positive response, which again works to the advantage of the campaign

(Campaign #3) A celebrity-endorsed product, including

  • A beautiful picture of food, which drives clickthrough
  • A beautiful image of a celebrity, but not based on a real "brand name" to avoid negative or positive bias associated with a specific person
  • A key selling point re: caloric intake

→The majority of women trust social media -- but we trust blogs best. Why?

In the past year, on surveys ranging from Beauty to Consumer Electronics, we have consistently found that blogs drive purchase intent. Why do you think this is?

We believe this action is being driven by the high level of trust within the community, which is reinforced by the length and depth of the conversational format available on blogs and in blog comments.

So to marketers and advertisers seeking the powerful audience of women online, we ask this: Do you want more confidence that your relevant messages will actually convert into action? If so, we recommend you talk with bloggers.

We look forward to your thoughts -- about this post, the survey and our announcement.

Related links:

AdWeek

Business Insider

Itbusiness

Portfolio

Best,

Lisa

for Lisa, Jory and Elisa

BlogHer Co-founders

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