Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Is Blogging Important in International Marketing?

Today Advertising Age published a list of the 934 most visited blogs. Somewhat unsurprisingly Seth Godin’s blog is at the top. Trolling this list however, it was very hard to find any non-US blogs. Coming in at number 3 was a blog based in Bahrain. An Australian blog hit number 10 and Italians and Canadians took the number 15 and 16 spots. Of the top 50 blogs 40 were from the US, 3 from Italy, 2 from Canada, and 1 each from Sweden, Bahrain, Australia, Netherlands and the UK.

What does this tell us? Firstly, we have to suspect that these stats only refer to English blogs. By all accounts China is a blogging force, but of course the language creates a seemingly insurmountable barrier to cross-fertilization. Secondly, we see a clear trend when it comes to marketing outside the US in English. While English blogs may increase in importance for marketing, they are certainly not there yet. Undue investment in this area will create an unbalanced campaign, unless low-level research reveals specific advantages for your market segment. Thirdly, if blogs are not being used in indigenous language, what e-communication is being used and what communications technologies are promising strong growth in that country or culture? E-communication is obviously growing worldwide, but preferred forms can vary widely from culture to culture and from country to country.

Some of my suggestions:

  1. Blogs that include automatic translation tools on their sites will be the first to cross the seemingly impenetrable barrier between language groups.
  2. Keyword searches in multiple languages.
  3. Assess how much the “blog phenomenon” is driven by US bloggers. If bloggers drive demand rather than consumers, then this form of marketing will quickly lose ground to the next new craze? Look abroad, because the next new craze might just be starting there already.

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