Traditional advertising practices have undergone considerable changes with the emerging trends in technology and media. Advertising today has moved beyond the notion of corporate generated one-to-many dissemination of marketing messages and has taken the form of direct communication with the consumers with increased consumer involvement in the creation of marketing and brand-related messages (Cappo, 2003; Jaffe, 2005). In the mayhem of brand-related cacophony vying for consumer attention, there has been increased participation of consumers in brand promoting messages and conversations (Jaffe, 2005; Garfield, 2005; Wipperfurth, 2005). Consumers have started to disseminate documents independent of the marketers or advertisers which strongly resemble corporate ads in structure and target brands they love (Flight, 2005) and also for brands that have strong communal appeal (Ives, 2004). This form of advertisement has been seen for many brands such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Southwest Airlines, FedEx, Nike, Volkswagen, etc. These releases have been termed in different names like “homebrew ads”, “folk ads”, “open source branding”, and “vigilante marketing” (Muñiz & Schau, 2007).
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In this paper, we discuss the advent of blog marketing as a form of vigilante marketing and its various aspects. To do so, we need to understand what vigilante marketing is and how logging has evolved as a new form of vigilante marketing, and the benefits that it has. This paper will also try to understand the counter blogging marketing strategy that has been employed by many companies and its effectiveness.
Vigilante marketing may be defined as “unpaid advertising and marketing efforts, including one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many commercially oriented communications, undertaken by brand loyalists on behalf of the brand.” (Muñiz & Schau, 2007, p.187) Consumers who create such content are doing it as self-appointed.
Promoters of the brand and many believe that they closely rival the official promotions in their creativity and professionalism (Ives, 2004). Even though these communications do not fall into the strict definition of advertising, they are of very high relevance to marketers today (Muñiz & Schau, 2007).
Blogging is a new form of interactive communication process wherein consumers and marketers alike contribute to brand promotion activity with the aid of digital media. Blogs are short for weblogs which are personal or professional communication through a website. The purpose of these blogs may vary greatly from person to organizational to marketing purposes. Blog marketing has been defined as “Marketing through the use of a website primarily composed of personal or professional observations and in journal or diary format.” (Dacko, 2008, p.59). Blogging has emerged as a new form of vigilante marketing wherein consumers provide their own opinion about the brand and helps in the creation of a social network to promote the brand. The advantages of blog marketing are the creation of good ideas, gaining mass visibility, a successful team that can promote the product (Wright, 2006).
The recent trend in brand marketing is a creation of a social network or community through blogs that spread marketing communication. For instance in 2006 Southwest Airlines created its blog “Nuts about Southwest” which was created to connect to customers, where employees could write about their job and the travel industry where the first blog was by a marketing executive who wrote about how customers have the misconception that Southwest Airlines only carries vacationers and not business travelers (USA Today, 2006). Further blogs are not one-way communication to the consumer. Rather they are a two-way communication wherein even consumers present their message regarding the product. This has been seen in the case of Apple blogs (http://www.iphoneblogger.com/, ). Thus, there are positions for counter blogs where a consumer can ask for a clarification or a corporate blogger can clarify a situation. Hence, this becomes a quicker and mode for two-way communication.
According to Steve Rubel, Senior Vice President of Edelman, “[Blogging] is a great consumer insights tool” (Miller, 2008, p.90). Blogging can be used to get customer taste, preference, and profile. This is so because with the aid of social networks wherein people with similar taste and liking present their ideas, comments, and messages can be profiled drawing the profile of the target customer from it. This is so because there is a subculture that is created through the blogging network where individuals associate with a homogeneous taste and preference (Muñiz & Schau, 2007). Such communities are more interested in creating web pages exclusively for advertising the brand that they love and writing about their experience of using the brand (Muñiz & Schau, 2007). Another advantage of blogging is that it literally brings down the cost of advertisement to zero (Miller, 2008).
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Thus blog marketing is the most interactive and active form of vigilante marketing. The bloggers can be both consumers who present their views about the product and advertise them to their community or a fan club of the product like that of Harley Davidson or that of Apple’s community. These blogs do not only disseminate words about the product but also produces firsthand experience of the users which appeals to future consumers. Thus, we see that blogging is the latest form of vigilante marketing.
- Anon., 2008. Harley Davidson Tips. [Online].
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