Blogs have bigger influence on purchase decisions than Facebook has

Technorati, the famous, decade-old blog search engine and blog portal, has released its 2013 Digital Influence Report, which replaces the historical State of the Blogosphere report and deals a lot more with branding and social media marketing. You can download the full PDF here, it’s an interesting read as usual.

We want to highlight one aspect which the Technorati report uncovers and which we find quite fascinating: On page 16 Technorati published a diagram showing which online services are most and least likely to influence online purchases (in the U.S.). The top spot goes to retail sites, where the likelihood that they influence a purchase for obvious reasons is very high, 56 percent. Brand sites do also influence people’s buying behaviour with 34 percent. But close behind, with 31,1 percent, come blogs. In other words: Blogs influence purchases on the web more than Facebook (30,8 percent), YouTube (27 percent) or Twitter (only 8 percent).

That is quite an astonishing result and proves once again the power of blogs.

Technorati

Because of the relevance that blogs do have when people make purchasing decisions, the distribution of brands’ social marketing budgets doesn’t seem to follow any logic, as pointed out by Patrick Lambert on his blog. He highlights another chart from the Technorati report that shows the social budget breakdown of brands. The main share of brands’ social budget is being pumped into Facebook campaigns: 56 percent. YouTube and Twitter each get 13 percent of the total money spent on social media marketing, and only 6 percent are being put to use on blogs.

So while blogs have a bigger impact on purchasing decisions than Facebook, they only get a fraction of the brands’ advertising dollars.

That obviously doesn’t make sense, and it presents a big opportunity for all companies and brands that understand the power and relevance of blogs in the social media marketing mix.

All that means that 2013 could be the year when blogs get back into the brands’ focus. According to the statistics above, they should.

via Bisonblog

“I call blogs the ‘diamonds’ of social media”

We continue our series of interviews with opinion leaders, influencers and well-connected bloggers and social media personalities from Twingly’s home country Sweden. For today’s interview we had a chat and coffee with Brit Stakston, media strategist at a Stockholm-based communication agency. Brit believes in the web enabling real democracy but sees a lot of challenges on that journey.

Hi Brit. You are media strategist at the Stockholm-based communications agency JMW. Today that means lots of social media, right?
JMW provides most of the services that a typical communication agency offers to its clients, but our particular focus early on was social media – which of course should be the core discipline for every communication agency today. Without bragging I think we were one of the first agencies here in Sweden that understood the massive change that social media will bring to business and society.

Photo taken by Lena Dahlström

What’s your personal take on the current state of social media?
We seem to have reached a phase where we have to deal with some critical issues that evolve as social media is entering every part of our (digital) live. One thing is the gap between people who know how to communicate on the web, which gives them a lot of power, and those who don’t. The insights of how analogue and digital values shape society need to be discussed.

Do you think social media has always reached its full potential in changing the society?
Not at all. For me it’s not a huge change that i.e. you and I gained influence and power just because we started using Twitter early. First when everybody knows how those tools can enable him/her to communicate and to get his/her voice heard, social media really will be able to make a difference. Then we can start building. That’s one of my missions today, to help people realize that the ability to learn how to engage on the digital side of life is as important as to be able to read. We all know what that being able to read meant for individuals and for society. Individuals as well as leaders of any organisation need to understand that this is the fact with digitalization as well.

Twitter is gaining momentum in Sweden and journalists are increasingly quoting tweets. How does that affect the importance of blogs?
I call blogs the “diamonds of social media”. It is a brilliant database that completes your digital footprint with your personal experiences, know-how and ideas. Very important: It will be available and searchable while our conversations on Twitter are lost after a week or so. Unfortunately, the journalist’s radar now has changed focus to Twitter, which is shown by the the fact that they don’t quote blogs anymore. But they definitely read blogs. When they write articles, blogs are often the source or did at least inspire some of the facts and thoughts presented. So as a communication advisor I recommend my clients not to ignore blogs just because they aren’t mentioned that often in mass media anymore. They are a hidden power to influence and allow for long term visibility.

So you don’t doubt the influence of blogs on the public debate?
Definitely not. A blog is a great platform if you want to influence and discuss issues in public or if you want to question politicians around specific topics. In Sweden we have lots of examples of how the blogosphere really has been pushing things forward and how it has put pressure on decision makers. The strength of a blog is that everybody has their own publishing platform, almost at no costs. You can react when people react on issues you are engaged in. To watch a discussion evolving around a topic that you have invested a lot of time into on your blog is a great feeling. Within moments you can provide a perspective by writing a short comment and with internal links highlight your own line of thinking here.

Would you say that in the age of social media citizens have more power than in the old days?
Definitely. The digital tools we have today are developed from exactly that fact, how we as human beings want to share experiences, values, expressions with each other and now withoug being framed to time and place. We want to change things! Unlike demonstrations or other physical gatherings, you don’t have to wait for somebody to grant you space to express your opinion. And you should never underestimate two things: First of all that your passion to change things is inspiring for others and second that the fact of something being public is really pressuring, much more than a private letter I send to a decision maker. A single blog post with relevant questions might be enough, especially if the person addressed feels that more reactions would follow if he/she doesn’t react. So overall, if you want to create public awareness for a particular topic and you don’t involve a blog in your communication, you miss out on a great opportunity, and you definitely tend to be lost on the journalist’s radar.

In the beginning you already mentioned the gap between those who know how to use the communication tools and those who don’t. Can you elaborate on that concern?
I am simply worried that the group of people who engage in social media and has the skills to become influential online is the one who exclusively sets the agenda. We have seen many examples like that the last year. Take the Kony 2012 campaign as one example: Its producers definitely knew how to put together a professional message which spread virally through the web. How many (more trustworthy) organisations haven’t worked extremely hard for years to raise awareness about issues concerning children´s rights and children soldiers, but haven’t even gotten a small amount of the attention Kony 2012 achieved?! I am scared of a world where the issues of the ones who understand communication are being considered the important ones. This is the reason why I think everybody should know how to participate on social media. Why? Because there will always be stories that need to be told and that won’t be on the agenda of individuals. Individual initiatives tend to be short term-based and have a weakness in the fact that they are carried by one person only, whereas organizations tend to be structured in a democratic manner and much more long term.

Do you think the web can create real democracy where everybody has the same power?
Yes, even if it sounds very idealistic. I am an extreme cyber optimist in that sense. But at the same time we need to realize that it is the human nature to group ourselves and to create hierarchies. We need to see that factors like power and money still are strong driving forces. The problem is when we keep on saying that all this does not happen in communities on the web while the truth is that it is happening on the web. So we constantly need to fight that, as well as making sure that as many politicians, CEOs and other decision makers are participating and getting involved in the dialogue. That they are thrilled over digital tools that enable them to keep in contact with their target groups on a daily basis, whether they are citizens, voters or customers.

What will you think in 10 years about what you said in this interview?
I hope that I don’t have to be nostalgic about these times!

You can follow Brit on Twitter or via her blog.

Other interviews in this series:

Micco Grönholm
Joakim Jardenberg 

Developers! Talk to us if you’re awesome.

Hi there! We’re looking for someone great (you!) to join our development team. 

At Twingly, we’re developing a lot of cool stuff mainly focused on social media and search technology. We work with huge datasets and large amounts of traffic in a mixed platform environment. If you’re a system developer and want to work with really cool stuff – we can provide the challenges you are looking for!

Interested? Send an email to Peter (peter@twingly.com) and introduce yourself.

“Without comments, any news site gets a certain PDF feel”

Dagens Nyheter (DN), Sweden’s biggest morning newspaper, has been one the first Twingly partners to integrate our widget solution into its website, back in early 2007. Today, five years later, we spoke with Björn Hedensjö, Head of Digital at DN, about how Twingly worked out for them, his view on the importance of blogs and comments as well as about what’s next for DN regarding social media.

DN was Twingly’s first client and integrated the widget in February 2007. What was the impact of that partnership and with what thoughts do you look back on 5 years of having incoming blog links showing next to your articles?
I started at DN in 2009, but the people working with digital there before me did a great job, and the Twingly partnership is a good example. The impact was big then and today we’re still a very natural environment for bloggers, and it’s important for us to put the incoming links in prominent positions on the site.

How has the role of the blogosphere changed for DN during the past years, and how important is it today?
I think it’s as important or more important today than it was a few years ago, despite the “competition” from microblogs and Facebook. I really feel blogs contribute in a unique way when they’re at their best, with in-depth coverage of current issues.

How much do you at DN actually work together with the blogosphere? What ways do you see for the future to leverage blogs even more for your site?
I wouldn’t say we work very actively with the blogosphere, but we link to blogs in articles when it’s relevant and of course all editors read loads of blogs. Also the Twingly partnership is important when it comes to tying us closer to the blogosphere. A senior editor of ours, Hasse Rosén, has recently started working with social and interactivity issues and eventually we’ll see some exciting results from that.

How valuable are reader comments for your web site?
Very important. Without them any news site get a certain, uncanny PDF feel.

If readers want to comment on one of your articles, they need to log in with Facebook, OpenID or a DN.se account. Do you find that to be the best solution to keep the quality of comments up?
It’s not the best solution, but it has proven to be a step in the right direction for us, I don’t think there are any easy or general solutions that fit all. We have plenty of ideas in the backlog, one being a rating or ‘like’ system, where users rate each others comments. That has been very successful on other news sites. Recently we also started working actively to encourage good comments by highlighting them, perhaps writing new articles based on them. But many things could be done to make it better.

How do you see DN develop in the future in regards to social media?
A closer Facebook integration is not an unlikely next step.

How will that look?
A little bit too early to say!

While there hardly seems to be anybody without a Facebook account nowadays, Twitter is still only a niche phenomenon in Sweden. Do you think that will change in the near future?
No, I think Twitter in Sweden is pretty much established as a meeting place for a tiny, influential minority. It hasn’t changed much since I got my Twitter account in 2008.

How much time do you personally spend with social media while at work?
Depends, if I have a not so busy day, which is rare, I allow myself to just enjoy them. Other days it’s strictly work, but I check Twitter and Facebook regularly.

What are the biggest trends in online journalism that you especially look forward to be able to work with at DN?
Open data services and quick, simple and direct ways to broadcast news. A colleague of mine recently shot, edited and published a very professional clip from a bus accident in minutes, all via his iPhone.

“Because of social media, hotels are forced to deliver real value”

Björn Milton is one of the co-founders of Twingly. In summer 2010, he left the team to do something totally different: Open a hotel with his wife. We had a little chat with Björn about his exciting project and the changes to the turism industry caused by social media.

Hi Björn. You are one of the founders of Twingly. Now you are running a hotel on the Swedish Island Gotland together with your wife. How did that happen?
By accident really. In the summer of 2010 me and my wife Karin planned our wedding that was due to be held in the beginning of August. In July we found out that a property right next to where we have our house was up for sale. We went to have a look and decided that it had potential. We didn’t really know exactly what we wanted to do with it, but we decided to go ahead and ended up buying the property 1 day before our wedding. So there we were, owning a rather substantial piece of property, not really sure what to do with it.

Quite quickly we decided to build some kind of accommodation, and during the process the ambitions rose (as they tend to do) and we ended up with a hotel and a restaurant that we named Hotel Stelor. We completed the construction in 6 months and opened up for business in June 2011. Neither me nor my wife have any prior experience in the hotel or restaurant business so we have spent this first summer working really hard and learning loads of stuff. We’ve tried to share some of our experiences in our blog, Stelor Towers (only in Swedish unfortunately).

Do you miss working at an Internet startup?
When we decided to start the hotel business, I was really excited about doing something hands on, building physical stuff and connect with people in person and I still am today. Our hotel business is in fact run very much like a startup, building stuff in a short period of time, experimenting a lot and then rebuild the stuff that didn’t work out. We try to be very open with what we do and how we think and strive to surround us with people that know the things we don’t. I do miss the tech part of an Internet startup though and will hopefully get a chance to work more with technology soon again.

Your hotel is Sweden’s first that offers guests an iPad instead of a TV. What kind of feedback do you get regarding this?
The idea is that we want to offer our guests the best possibilities to take part in the the informational landscape. Hotel Stelor is very much about facilitating social interactions, both physical and digital. And the iPad plays an important role in that. The feedback from our guests has been overwhelmingly great. Most people like laying their hands on an iPad and our guests are not different. Sure, occasionaly guest have asked for the reason why we don’t have TVs in the rooms. But the most common reaction we get about actually not having TVs are positive ones.

What plans do you and your wife have for your hotel business? Any more ideas on how to combine today’s digital lifestyle with the tatmosphere of a 18th century building housing your hotel?
We have lots of ideas about how to develop our hotel business. Our focus is about building a place where meetings between people and sharing of information is the the main thing and we’re constantly trying to come up with ways that make that as easy as possible. We strive to use and develop technology that integrates deeply into the experience of staying at our hotel in a way that enhances it rather than automates it.

During your years at Twingly you saw the social web unfold and evolve. How can you use this kind of knowledge for your hotel business?
We make use of the social web a lot, communicating and getting feedback through a number of different channels. We work a lot with Facebook (http://facebook.com/hotelstelor) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/hotelstelor) and actively encourage our guests to share their experience through sites like Tripadvisor or Facebook Places. From having been part of Twingly and learning from how we’ve used the social web there, I feel I have a rather good sense of what works when communicating through those channels.

In what ways will social media change the hotel and turism landscape? Or won’t it?
I already think it has. The traveling business, being one of the world’s largest consumer industries, can’t ignore the power of the social web, although it has tried for along time. I think the industry as a whole has woken up at last. There are lots of tech driven startups popping up around this field and the big players are spending more and more money trying to harness the power of the social web. Some successfully and others less so, but the interest is there and it is there to stay. The biggest change we’ve seen so far is that people, in recent years, have started to share their experiences with each other on a big scale. This forces the hotels to deliver real value to their guests if they want to survive.

The technology landscape in the traveling industry has been very conservative for along time and is just now beginning to move. I think there are lots of opportunities in this field right now, both with regards to the social web and with technology in large.

What web trends do you think are the most exciting ones right now?
The cloud is truly becoming a reality. People have talked about it for years, but it is now at first that the concept of the cloud is being leveraged for real into both consumer and business products. Your services and your data can be accessed through any device at any time, freeing you of the need of having to worry about whether you have the right device with you or if you’re going to loose it. The only thing you have to worry about is having access to a good Internet connection. Which is of course provided free of charge at any reasonably forward thinking hotel : )


Twingly welcomes Beauty Planet as new e-commerce partner

An increasing number of e-commerce websites and online retailers is realizing the power and potential of the social web. If you need proof for that, just have a look at the list of our e-commerce partners that use Twingly to connect with the blogosphere. In November we published a few examples of websites that with the help of Twingly leverage the power of Social Media to increase their audience, receive feedback and improve customer loyalty.

Today we are happy to announce another partner from the e-commerce sector: Beauty Planet is a leading Swedish online store for perfume, makeup, skin care and hair care. And as of today, the site comes integrated with the Twingly widget that shows incoming links from around the blogosphere to the store’s product pages.

We are particularly glad that Beauty Planet doesn’t only embed Twingly on each product profile, but also on their main homepage. If you visit beautyplanet.se, in the right column you’ll see a section titled “bloggat om” (Swedish for “blogged about”). There you always find the latest blog posts linking to products on Beauty Planet. You can either click on the product name to head to the product profile, or on the name of the blog to visit the article discussing the product.

The Twingly widget in the right column

We probably don’t need to mention that blog posts that are appearing in that section might be able to attract a whole lot of new visitors coming from Beauty Planet’s main page.

And then, on each and every product page, there is a list of all the recent blog posts linking to that specific perfume, makeup, skin care or hair care product (like here). It’s a great way for customers to get additional information and read about other customers’ experiences, as well as for the bloggers which get more traffic.

By the way, Beauty Planet is our first partner using Twingly eTrade, our new solution especially developed for e-commerce sites. If you run an online store and would like to hear more about eTrade and the ways we can help you to open up to the social web, we’d love to hear from you!

A handy list of major tech and social media events in Europe

Flickr/LeWEB10, CC licence BY 2.0

The Twingly team enjoys attending tech events and conferences across Europe. Meeting hundreds of great people working with or being interested in the fields of social media, startups and digital culture is the best way to get inspiration, to learn, to collect feedback and to simply have lots of fun.

For our own purpose as well as for you we compiled a list of major startup, tech and social media conferences/events that we either usually travel to, feel that we should attend (but haven’t) or where we know other’s who are enthusiastic about it.

That means this list is probably far from complete (and there might be a slight emphasis on the Nordics). In case you want to recommend an annual major event with focus on the topics mentioned that takes place anywhere in Europe feel free to let us know in the comments.

Please note that some of the events on this list have already taken place for 2011 or won’t happen this year at all. But we figured that this overview could come handy even next year, and those events pausing 2011 might have a huge comeback in 2012.

January
DLD Conference
January, Munich, Germany
Website

February
Lift
Geneva, Switzerland
Website

March
GeeknRolla
London, UK
Website 

Plugg
Brussels, Belgium
Website

Social Media World Forum Europe
London, UK
Website

April
re:publica
Berlin, Germany
Website

SHiFT
Lisbon, Portugal
Website

SIME
Vienna, Austria
Website

The Next Web
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website

May
GeekGirlMeetup
Stockholm, Sweden
Website (only in Swedish)

Next Conference
Berlin, Germany
Website

SIME
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website

June
reboot
Copenhagen, Denmark
Website

SIME
Barcelona, Spain
Website

July
TEDGlobal
Edinburgh, Scotland
Website

August
Media Evolution – The Conference
Malmö, Sweden
Website

Sweden Social Web Camp
Tjärö, Sweden
Website (only in Swedish)

September
Arctic15
Helsinki, Finland
Website

PICNIC
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website

The European Pirate Summit
Cologne, Germany
Website

October
Future of Web Apps Conference
London, UK
Website

SIME
Helsinki, Finland
Website

November
NOAH
London, UK
Website

SIME
Stockholm, Sweden
Website

The TechCrunch Europas
London, UK
(no official event website, coverage on http://eu.techcrunch.com)

December
LeWeb
Paris, France
Website

You can find additional information about most of those events on Lanyrd.