Putting blogs to work ... please write in

Note: This post was not written by Ross Geller

Hi, today is Ashtami. The biggest and most auspicious day of Durga Puja. It is also the 25th anniversary of the Puja in our building. I was there when the Puja started 25 years back. And am lucky enough to be here this time too. 25 years. Phew, that's a long time. Wonder how things will be on number 50?

Got a piece of good news to share with you on this auspicious day. As you probably know I am a market researcher by trade. That's what pays for the bacon I bring home, make pasta with and write about. My job is to help clients understand what consumer feel about topics of relevance so that they (the clients) can work out their strategies.

Well, this is an instance where work and play collides. I had written a paper on how blogs and social media (Facebook, Twitter) can be used to get customer feedback for small businesses. The paper was based on, what else, food blogging. Things I observed on Finely Chopped.

Got to know today that this paper has got selected by the Market Research Society of India. Which means that I will have to present it at their conference in Mumbai in mid November.

Esomar (the world body of market research) has also organised a conference with TMRS (the Thai Market research body) at Bangkok. They have asked me to conduct a workshop on this earlier in November.

So now that I have probably lost you this is what I would like you to do. Please write to me through comments on this post (ideally) or through DMs, e's on the following:

If you read blogs ....
  • Why do you read blogs?
  • What do you look for in blogs?
  • Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
  • Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
  • Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please
If you are a blogger?

  • What got you started?
  • What keeps you going?
  • Do business owners get in touch with you? For what? eg marketing their products, finding out about your views, etc...

If you own a business/ are an entrepreneur ....

  • Have you used blogs/ social networks to further your business? How?
  • Do you use blogs/ social networks to market your products?
  • Do you use blogs/ social networks to get feedback from customers? Do you ask people directly for their opinions or do you just read what's put up on blogs/ Facebook pages?
  • Specific examples where info from blogs or Facebook has worked for you
I am really counting on you to write in. The paper got selected based on what I learnt at Finely Chopped and on Facebook after all.... so please delurk and write in...otherwise I won't have much to say...

Comments

Arundhuti said…
well...to begin with..since a blog is (in most cases) a personal space...the information or review given is directly from the end user, so i think i can rely on the judgement....blogs have a personal touch which makes the readers more comfortable in asking questions.

travel blogs or food blogs for example talk about the author's own experiences...and the motive behind the articles is not publicising the place or restaurant etc.

as a blog reader, i personally feel that its easier to relate to the articles, as you feel its written by one of us....

and lastly, i have seen many people going by what the majority suggest in facebook when it comes to buying electronic goods, and even cars!

hope my input helps
Moonshine said…
Always ready to help a fellow researcher!! I fall in the first category -

1)Why do I read blogs - I like reading about experiences that people go through - I do not read all blogs.. I only read some.. It tells you a lot about people .. the other perspective.. everyone is pretty much themselves - one need not pretend to be someone else.. it is a great way of knowing someone!!

2) What do i look for in a blog - tough question - sharing of personal experiences without having to hide anything.. like mindedness. Yes, thats what I look for

3) Offline vs online - written by someone like me!!!! Magazine/ newspaper =information Blogs = more personal, more dependent on the person writing it

4) Information on blogs - Not much.. only movie reviews / recipes maybe...food blogs like yours!!

5) Bought anything - not really.. but decided upon a travel destination or place to stay or something .. then yes.

I dont think my responses help you a wee bit!! :(
Anonymous said…
I've answered a couple of your questions. Would answer more, but I'm at work.

Why do you read blogs? -- To get information on a topic or subject that interests me. This is especially true if this a topic of niche/limited interest.

What do you look for in blogs? -- I like blogs that are well-written, have nice sharp pictures, and show the author(s) has confidence in expressing opinions. I'm less interested in fact, than in opinion and reflection. This last fact is pretty decisive in the choice of blogs I read. Also -- and perhaps this is just me -- I'm turned off by sloppy use of language(grammar, syntax, word choices). Also, I have a horror of profanity, slang, text-speak, etc.

Now, I have to say how much I love your blog, Kalyan. It's usually one of the first things I read every morning. I'm so far away from home (Mumbai) in North America (where fall is nearly here and the weather and the leaves are both changing). So I read your blog and think of Diwali/Puja in India and I miss it a bit less because I 'see' it through your experiences.

You give us a window into life in urban India in such a personal and quirky way. I hope your blog is headed for big times. Be assured you have a loyal audience of supporters who will keep reading what you have to write.
deseng said…
I read blogs because they have a more personal touch as compared to a newspaper or magazine article. I hope they will hence be less biased in its reviews.

I dont recall buying anything except perfumes but I have gone to restaurants based on recommendations in blogs.
ms said…
Having dealt with a lot of data gathering - How about having a form on your blog with a submit button ? Might make it easier to get more responses.

Here is mine

-Why do you read blogs?
I read foodie blogs for inspiration and from a sense of community
-What do you look for in blogs?
Thoughtfulness - I like blogs that bring a thoughtful approach to everyday life
-Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
I guess i expect blogs to respond to current events faster. I also expect blogs to have a personality - as opposed to mainstream media which is conservative and politically correct. Blogs are real.
-Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please

I love food product reviews on blogs that i have read for a long time/ and or seem reliable (say mark bittmans blog). Say specific pasta brands or Oil / Flour recommendations.
Curry Spice said…
* Why do you read blogs?
- What do you look for in blogs?
Genuine opinion, good writing, point of view, technical information, discussion, eye candy, design inspiration, food inspiration, making friends with like minded thinkers, the potential of reaching out to anyone in the world.

- Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
I dont trust a mag or newspaper review as much as a blog review. But then again.. I read your blog to trust an opinion on a place.
Sometimes the point of view on a blog is different. Also the variety of information is interesting.

- Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
Design
Architecture
Photo technical information
Camera help
Recipes
Ingredient
Restaurant reviews
travel reviews
Website making help
HTML and CSS codes.

- Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please
-I have gone to restaurants after you have reviewed them on Finely Chopped.
- Shopping for a particular style of clothing or shoes.
- Color influence on design projects
- Style influence on design projects

Hey by the way - sexy header pic.
Curry Spice said…
i missed the first question-
Why do i read blogs?
I like the personal opinion.
A blog is a personal space, a well done blog is a joy to read.
I like the intensity with which people write, draw, photograph etc.
I am a big believer on citizen journalism.
Gobri said…
Why do you read blogs?
They provide for personal opinion and also give information at times. It helps pass time in an enjoyable manner.

What do you look for in blogs?
Good writing, information, ideas and in case of some blogs, an insight into the blogger's state of mind.

Any differences between blogs and newspapers/magazines?
Blogs need to be more personal. Plus blogs help clarify easily with the comment section. Everything in a newspaper/magazine is taken in with a pinch of salt.

Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
Not particularly look for. But Google throws up blogs while searching for certain information. Have used blogs for:
- Recipes
- Tech reviews
- Books, movies, games, restaurant reviews

Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs?
- Recipes (using your blog (:)
- DSLR usage
Harman said…
* Why do you read blogs?
ME:I personally like reading Blogs specially related to food (my obsession)and Fashion industry(my profession)so I kinda look for something informative with good pictures.

* What do you look for in blogs?
ME:Related to food..I would say some good n quick recipes as being a working women and living in US we have no domestic help so I prefer something easy...with pictures.
Eating joints or restaurants with pictures is something which I appreciate whenever I read your blog,brings me closer to our country.


* Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
ME:I believe in keeping it simple and clean ..clutter free..so online works for me..and language I don't believe in heavy vocabulary but something very simple and perfect like talking to your friend no AIRS even the slang I like ..used by some blogger it like connecting to each other :)

* Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
ME: YES,I look for respective field the reason I am reading..like your blog something I really really like is the price given in US dollars which helps me know how India is moving in food industry with price hike as I rarely visit India and next thing about the best eateries and new places to try.

* Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please
ME:Yes..I do try and order online too..like I read a blog on Indian bengali sweets in New jersey ..I ordered and it was awesome!!
Something that's INN fashion based on pictures on Blog ...or Makeup from MAC...its quality and sharpness in pictures helped me to pick the correct one ..

hope I answered everything!
Hi
Here is my two-bit

Why do you read blogs? - I love the personal touch of blogs. I largely follow blogs on food and its the personal passion of each writer that comes through. That is what makes a blog so much better than reading review in the paper.

What do you look for in blogs?
I look through blogs for places I can visit, things I can try and tidbits of information that are otherwise not really found or discussed.

Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
Blogs tend to be much more honest than any other medium which often gets paid or invited to write on a niche subject. Also blogs discover aspects that are otherwise not really touched upon by mainstream media.

Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
I largely look for trivia on food.

Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please
I have visited a number of restaurants because of blogs, followed the opening and events of a number of places (food & entertainment) on FB.
Deeba PAB said…
How interesting. Love the focus of your research.
Well, I read Blogs because there are a chosen few that make excellent reading! It satisfies my innate curiosity and I, being a fundamentally lazy and therefore housebound soul, get to meet and know many people without actually meeting them :)
Since I have also been a part of the blogging world it was quite natural that I would read other blogs..
What I look for in blogs is an easy to read style of writing. Food blogs are my main choice and I also love looking at pictures of people and their lives and families.

I don't read newspapers anymore..the internet is my escape from reality. Therefore I explore food, crafts and other such topics that I enjoy. I look for new recipes to cook and for the vicarious thrill of sharing other peoples' experiences.

No, haven't shopped for anything yet..though I mention specific products and brands that I use in my own blog.

I write blogs as a freelance writer for UK focused online gaming sites..so yes, I use blogs to further businesses, but not my own!

Most of the sites I write about have fan pages on FB with specific promotions and offers on them to attract members.

I hope this helps :)
Satya said…
Why do you read blogs?
------------------------
To explore the world from my kitchen ... in reality we cannot learn everything so blogs help me to learn more...food blogging is a ocean for me to learn from

What do you look for in blogs?
--------------------------------
Information, Tips and Creativity
I trust foodblogs and travelblogs

Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
--------------------------------
as it comes directly from the people who are like us and there is no marketing it is more trustful

Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
---------------------------------
Yes information is important ... food that is available locally in that region, i look for information in travel blogs about food as the true spirit of india is its food.Travel is experiencing every aspect of that region and food is one of that..

Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please
---------------------------------
Electronics - Bought an expensive camera after seeing blog reviews of different people
Food and Accomodation- We have planed a trip to rajastan and we find this blog a inspiration as it covers food and accomodation e.g
http://myyatradiary.blogspot.com/2010/08/land-of-lord-brahma-pushkar.html
http://myyatradiary.blogspot.com/2010/08/flavors-of-rajasthan-i.html
Satya said…
It is interesting to know you have an opportunity to present the power of blogging with statistics ... I hope the information I have shared is helpful

Satya
http://www.superyummyrecipes.com
The knife said…
Hi, sorry for not replying. I read each and every comment as they came in on my gmail. The depth with which each of you have answered proves my point...there is a lot of information lying out here...goes much beyond statistics...thanks everyone
The Bride said…
Am I too late? I love survey-type thingies so this is a long response...

• Why do you read blogs?
I started out reading blogs that were like personal journals written in an entertaining way. I guess I like the insight into other people’s lives. Most of the blogs I read are in India although I don’t live there – maybe it’s a way of connecting with people like me ? Along the way, I realised that I get news about India in an indirect way through blogs, a sense of the issues people in India are talking about without opening a newspaper, and I also started reading some blogs which were issue-based or dealt with selection of news in India. Later, I started reading fashion blogs… these are almost all not India-based though.
• What do you look for in blogs?
Definitely, a personal voice. Or a personal take on the news. Or a personal take on food, in your case. I like that you are a part of your food reviews.
• Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
The personal voice. In the case of blogs which link to news, I have come to trust their selection of news as something that would interest me.
• Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
If I google looking for a recommendation and a blog comes up, I’m happy to consider it because it’s a real person who’s tested something. This is where I would tend to read Hong Kong blogs – if I wanted a hairdresser recommendation and a blog post recommending someone came up, I’d be interested in it.
• Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please
I have decided to try restaurants based on your blog posts (or recommended them to people), pubs based on the experience recounted on a blog, and definitely watched Hindi movies based on what I read on blogs (not necessarily go for the movie or avoid it based on the opinion of the poster, but just become aware that it exists).
Anonymous said…
Ok here are my answers...

Why do you read blogs? - there is so much information and opionions out there, so many expreciences to enrich ourself with

What do you look for in blogs? - tough one... content primarily, I need to have a connect with what and how the blogger is writing it..presentation... and yes to an extent even the bloggers responsivness and attitude makes a difference

Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online) - I am primarily looking for news in newspapers and to share opinoins and views in blogs

Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information? - yes at times... recipes, reviews etc

Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please --- yes mostly books and yes I have tried many eating joints after reading the reviews :)

and as i am blogger too I will answer the following too

What got you started? - I started on a whim 3 yrs back...

What keeps you going? - I think its the connect with people, the constant feedback that I keep getting and a space where I can chose to express my opion, share my recipes and event rant if I choose too.. a space which is MINE

Do business owners get in touch with you? For what? eg marketing their products, finding out about your views, etc.. - Yes I do keep getting book review requests often... sometimes requests from food products to endorse them on the blog, a couple of times I have even got cosmectics guys asking me if they can send me free samples


Phew this was almost a post.... and BTW I have been reading u since long but delurking today :) I enjoy ur blog totally
The knife said…
Monika...thanks :) and great coming across your blog

Thanks Arundhuti, Moonshine (they did help), Anon, Sassy Fork & Purple Foodie for your mails, MS, deseng, Curry Spice, Gobrie, Ruthie of bangalore blogs, Harman (always look forward to your comments), Deepa, Rhea Satya :)
The knife said…
From Rushina of www.a-perfect-bite.blogspot.com

If you read blogs ....

* Why do you read blogs?
For the passion for food. There is precious little food writing in our prin publications and only a fraction of it goes beyond rest. reviews and recipes. But you will find blogs of every stripe to suit every mood. From the breakfast blog to the cookbook blog. Baking to desserts, tea to wine! Not to mention the vegan, diabetic and hundred other catagories.

* What do you look for in blogs?
The passion each one exhibits, Passion, stories about food, culinary traditions, food legacy, innovation in the face of limitation.

* Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
Well i dont think I look for foodwriting in newspapers. Magazines to a certain extent. I savour the little details and the way they ar pictured or written about, and the time and effort taken to write about them, the kind of stuff that print media will edit out to save print real estate.

* Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
Trends, ideas, information on regional variations in cooking, similarities in cuisines, uses of ingredients, reviews.

* Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/ Facebook. Specific examples please

Nothing comes to mind.
Anonymous said…
•Why do you read blogs?
•What do you look for in blogs?
•Any differences on what you look for in blogs versus what you look for in newspapers, magazines (offline and online)
Ans: Answer to all three of the above - 'cos for me blogs are an unconventional medium - where the individual's style is unrestricted/unedited. if the individual is famous/talented like many popular bloggers are - you get to interact with them directly - unlike via print/tv - this really appeals to me.

•Do you look for information on blogs? What sort of information?
Ans: I read mostly food blogs - so I sometimes choose where/what to eat based on a blog I read

•Have you ever decided to buy something or try something based on what you read on blogs/
Facebook. Specific examples please
Ans: Same as above

Shilpa Pai from Bangalore
The knife said…
More from Rushina of A perfect Bite (as a blogger)

If you are a blogger?

* What got you started?
In 2002 I took a sabbatical to have a baby. While on this sabbatical from work, in a strange new city, with a small baby, I would surf the net, looking for something to engage me in the hours until my husband came home from work. At the time, chatting was a new phenomenon (and unaccompanied by the baggage of suspicion it has today). In my online explorations, I came across Roshan, he was intelligent, made interesting conversation and indulged me by spending hours talking. We chatted almost every day, this stranger and I and it got to the point, that I would harrow him by typing in CAPITALS until he dropped whatever he was doing to chat with me! So, in what I suspect was a move to give me something to occupy my mind Ross introduced me to blogging. The rest as they say – is history. Initially it was just to write, an outlet for my creativity but after I discovered food writing it offered a means to showcase my work online at no cost (freelance writers have strict budgets!). Then somewhere along the line I realised what I really wanted to do was create a space that inspired people about a food culture we were losing to fast food and ready-to-eat packets. India perfected the nutritious culinary experience centuries ago and I wanted to preserve that. When I began blogging almost 9 years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. But even today on my CV, it says I am a blogger before all of the other things I do; writer, stylist, author, consultant. Today the blog is a space that offers a lot more than just my writing. It has become a place for conversations on food and a wide spectrum of food related writing.

* What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is the creative freedom, my blog is MY SPACE, there are no editors to reject or snip lines, (I have been described as wordy), It also allows me to write the stories I want to that people do not want to pay for but I feel need to be written. And, well thousands of articles down the line, it is still my byline on an article that I have spent time an effort on, thrills me, but with print media you have to wait a month or more to see that. And very rarely one of the readers letters of appreciation will make it through to the letters page and you will get to see it. That is gratifying, the appreciation. With Blogging, that gratification is instant, direct and profuse! The moment you publish, or within hours, or days you will hear from people how they liked what you wrote.

* Do business owners get in touch with you? For what? eg marketing their products, finding out about your views, etc...
Yes. And I am happy to help, as long as I do not have to compromise on the integrity of my blogspace.
The knife said…
Rushina as Blogger (contd)

* What keeps you going?
What keeps me going is the creative freedom, my blog is MY SPACE, there are no editors to reject or snip lines, (I have been described as wordy), It also allows me to write the stories I want to that people do not want to pay for but I feel need to be written. And, well thousands of articles down the line, it is still my byline on an article that I have spent time an effort on, thrills me, but with print media you have to wait a month or more to see that. And very rarely one of the readers letters of appreciation will make it through to the letters page and you will get to see it. That is gratifying, the appreciation. With Blogging, that gratification is instant, direct and profuse! The moment you publish, or within hours, or days you will hear from people how they liked what you wrote.

* Do business owners get in touch with you? For what? eg marketing their products, finding out about your views, etc...
Yes. And I am happy to help, as long as I do not have to compromise on the integrity of my blogspace.
The knife said…
Rushina of A Perfect Bite as an entrepreneur:

If you own a business/ are an entrepreneur ....

* Have you used blogs/ social networks to further your business? How?
As someone who has a brand to promote, online media offers the perfect platform to showcase it. I have a fanpage for myself that allows me to keep people who appreciate my work informed about my activities.
Yes, as a consultant, I am happy to use my blog and Facebook pages as a channel to publish achievements I am proud of or talk about products I believe in.
As a Food writer and recipe developer, I use it to get information to fuel my articles or design recipes. Opinions, ideas on food, information on how ingredients are used in other cuisines, recipes, food trivia. What people are interested in are also things i glean from blogs and facebook.

* Do you use blogs/ social networks to market your products?
Yes, being in the food consulting biz. online media offers a chance to reach the direct consumer, unlike print and other media where the information might not reach a consumer directly. It is much more measurable.

* Do you use blogs/ social networks to get feedback from customers? Do you ask people directly for their opinions or do you just read what's put up on blogs/ Facebook pages?
I do, although I use different methods for this depending on what info I need and how soon I need it. I also look at what people are talking about on Facebook to determine future moves on promotions and topics for articles.

* Specific examples where info from blogs or Facebook has worked for you
A recent article on Corriander, was populated with information I got from people on my facebook page. I wanted to know how different communities use Coriander in their cooking and I got lots of inputs. I found the padded pectin free marmalade recipe I use for my signature Kaffir Lime and other marmalades on another blog.Stuff that I hope to sell in the near future. Friends on facebook from all over the world have been very helpfull with research on culinary experiences in India for my recently launched culinary tours of India Masala Trails. Culinary tourism is an unorganised sector in India and often when we were trying to find food experiences in less discovered places, it was people on blogs and facebook that helped, indirectly or directly.
The knife said…
Rushina of A Perfect Bite as an entrepreneur

If you own a business/ are an entrepreneur ....

* Have you used blogs/ social networks to further your business? How?
As someone who has a brand to promote, online media offers the perfect platform to showcase it. I have a fanpage for myself that allows me to keep people who appreciate my work informed about my activities.
Yes, as a consultant, I am happy to use my blog and Facebook pages as a channel to publish achievements I am proud of or talk about products I believe in.
As a Food writer and recipe developer, I use it to get information to fuel my articles or design recipes. Opinions, ideas on food, information on how ingredients are used in other cuisines, recipes, food trivia. What people are interested in are also things i glean from blogs and facebook.
shrutik said…
Have you used blogs/ social networks to further your business? How?

I ran a forum/ a community to share knowledge,study material and discuss for MBA Entrance Preparation.
-----------------------
Do you use blogs/ social networks to market your products?

I used to create pages on Social Networking Sites to initiate discussions and try and highlight my products through the same
---------------------------
Do you use blogs/ social networks to get feedback from customers?

Yes,there were lots of feedback regarding the interface of my website,ease of finding the content needed,authenticity of information displayed on my forum and the likes.
-----------------------------
Do you ask people directly for their opinions or do you just read what's put up on blogs/ Facebook pages?

I had a shout box displayed ont eh main page of my forum,so that I could get direct feedback but I had got a combination of both direct and indirect feedback.Some are upfront about content copyright,authentic information,interface issues and there are discussions through which the users had given a feedback through discussing their pain points
--------------------------------
Specific examples where info from blogs or Facebook has worked for you

Orkut/Facebook pages helped me direct the traffic of users to my site,through interesting posts and informative content. Since one user comment led to his/group of friend joining the page,it gave a large audience for me to talk about my products
---------------------------------