Around 3%, or four million, European Internet users actively write blogs (Weblogs or journals), according to Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR). Bloggers in Europe are young, early adopters of new technologies, heavy Internet users, and they trust each other and are more open-minded than the average online consumer. In its study ¿Profiling European Bloggers¿, Forrester sets out why smart marketers should understand bloggers¿ characteristics before entering the `blogosphere¿. The study was presented at Forrester¿s Consumer Marketing Forum on the theme of ¿Integrating Social Media¿, concluding at the QEII Conference Centre in London today.

Forrester Research recommends that firms get active bloggers on their side. Jaap Favier, research director at Forrester, states: ¿Active bloggers can make or break a brand in less than a day. Firms shouldn’t fake a relationship with them or they will experience a backlash. To get bloggers on their side, firms should gain bloggers¿ trust by establishing an honest and transparent relation with bloggers first. They should get to know them and give them the tools to connect easily with their peers and pass along messages.¿

French Consumers Lead The European Blogosphere
Forrester’s survey shows that European bloggers are:

  • Southern European. The population of bloggers is highest in southern Europe. France, Italy, and Spain make up 57% of the blogosphere while Germany lags behind with only 13%. Today, France is still the European blogging leader with almost one million active bloggers.
  • Early adopters of technology. 21% of European bloggers have set up RSS feeds ¿ automatically updating selected content on the user’s desktop ¿ compared with 5% of all Internet users. Almost 80% of bloggers go online daily to check their emails, post, or read messages. These users spend 16 active hours online per week: That’s 5 hours more than the average Internet user.
  • Active, multitasking Internet surfers. Bloggers spend more time online than they do watching TV or reading printed magazines or newspapers. And, 52% of them read magazines or newspapers online. Fifty percent of bloggers had posted comments online and 47% had published their own Web page in the previous four weeks, compared with only 14% and 8% of all Net users, respectively.

Bloggers Are Tolerant Consumers
Forrester¿s data shows that bloggers are more open-minded and trusting of consumer-generated information than the average Internet user. In fact, bloggers:

  • Trust each other. From consumer-generated reference information to blogs, the level of trust of European bloggers is higher than for other Internet users. Almost a quarter of bloggers trust general blogs, compared with only 10% of all Internet users.
  • Welcome targeted ads. Bloggers don’t pay more attention to ads than other Internet users. However, 41% of bloggers say they don’t mind ads if they relate to their interests. That figure is only 34% for all Internet users.
  • Shop differently. Bloggers shop around less than the average Internet user before making a purchase, and they are more willing to try or do new things. When they like a product, almost 70% of them tell their friends. Peer recommendations matter to bloggers when making a purchase: More than a third of bloggers rely on friend or family recommendations when buying something.

At Forrester¿s Consumer Marketing Forum, industry executives and analysts shared how media, telecom, advertisers, and retailers are successfully shifting their relationship with consumers from push to pull, from advertising to collaboration, and from top-down to bottom-up. Favier comments: ¿To thrive in an era of Social Computing, companies must abandon top-down management and communication tactics, weave communities into their products and services, use employees and partners as marketers, and become part of a living fabric of brand loyalists.¿

The report mentioned in this release, ¿Profiling European Bloggers¿, is authored by Michèle Bouquet and Jaap Favier, and is available to Forrester WholeView2TM clients.