Getting The Choir To Sing

Digital and direct marketing powerhouse, Digitas, recently conducted a study of online behavior. Marianne Oglo posted some of the findings on Digital Hive, the blog from the agency’s brand planning department.

One of the more polarizing observations gleaned from our mini-ethnographies involves consumers perceptions of blogs. We witnessed a pervasive “blogs are for liberals” attitude among consumers residing in so-called ‘red states’. Some are so off put by their perception that they are simply uninterested in finding out more about them at this time.
Regardless of the perceived majority voice, blogs could represent one of the most effective platforms for vocal minorities to express their views. They are in a sense, virtual town hall meetings. But how persuasive are they with visitors of a different POV? Do they only serve to reinforce their believers (e.g. by preaching to the choir)? Ultimately, blogs probably function more as ‘cyber-tribes’ of ideas and like-minded souls.
When it comes to branding, implications abound. Obviously, transparency is a very good thing. And brands who know who they are and avoid making the mistake of trying to be everything for everyone will probably meet with more success than their less confident and/or schizophrenic counterparts. Moreover, given the tribal nature of blogs, pull marketing seems to be at the essence of it all.

I think it’s pretty clear that blogs can change perceptions in the marketplace. Case in point: Sun Microsystems. Jonathan Schwartz, President and COO of Sun Microsystems said that blogging had played a major role in the revitalization of Sun’s reputation. Sun has gone from the 99th to the 6th most popular server company, largely because it has embraced authenticity and transparency in its communication initiatives. That’s not preaching to the choir. That’s getting the choir to sing.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Just discovered your blog via a friend in Sydney Australia. It’s an object lesson in professional blogging. A point about “minority voices” – everyone has a minority voice when they are not appended to an aggregation such as a corporation which – through rules and compromise – distorts the authenticity of the individual’s voice. Blogging is pure one-to-one, pure street life. As marketing is commercial sociology, blogging is like drifting from conversation to conversation in a bar. Congratulations on your contribution to the art form.

  2. Welcome. And thank you kindly.
    I just jumped over to your FOUR blogs. Nice going!
    Do, tell us more.
    >> For those interested in Michael’s work, Enviro Farming seems a good place to start. Or if you must entertain another ad/marketing blog, the gentleman provides in that area, as well.

  3. Marianne Oglo says:

    Many thanks for your posting! In the spirit ‘preaching to the choir’, I couldn’t agree more with your perspective on the power of blogs to change perceptions in the marketplace. Sun Microsystems is a great example, along with countless others. Many blogs also serve as a great medium for exchanging provocative ideas and points of views (e.g. they are inspiring our present dialogue). Our study provided us with an additional insight that, on the surface, may seem counter-intuitive to the evolving tenets of an open source world. We observed that the polarizing nature of blogs and bloggers inhibits many from inspiring an open discourse between individuals who may not share similar perspectives or cultural context. Hence, their tribal nature. As one consumer stated, “When it comes to blogs, please reinforce my beliefs and surprise me a little.” Or in push-pull marketing terms, many blogs don’t always do a great job of listening. But this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise when one puts things into perspective: technology is, after all, just a tool created and exploited by humans – who are evolving at a much slower pace.