Daryl covers lots of interesting things in his two posts which the question in the header does no justice to.
I think the question in the header is rather moot. As long as two people are interacting with other and paying any sort of attention to each other, I think it would be a practical impossibility for either not to be some way ‘influenced’ by each other.
The questions I think we should be asking are these:
1. What is the extent of a blogger’s influence compared to other sources of influence like friends.
2. When does the blogger’s influence come into play in any sort of thought and decision making process of the reader. Does it come just before the point of making a decision when evaluating the choices or does it come at the beginning when deciding on the range of options to consider.
For example, using Daryl’s example, when deciding which camera to buy, do I go to a well known blogger on cameras to help make the final decision or do I go to a blogger who has blogged on cameras before to decide the choice or does seeing a camera appear on a blog place it in my awareness as one of the possible options and then I go to other sources to evaluate these choices.
3. What does the blogger influence (more than other sources)? Does the blogger influence my purchasing decisions or does the blogger influence how I allocate my time. Is there a particular niche which the blogger influences more than other sources or is the blogger’s word on any matter something I will give greater attention and weight than other sources. Can the blogger change the mind of a reader or only reinforces the reader’s opinion on something?
4. Who does the blogger exert a greater influence on? Do they exert a greater influence on their friends? Is the influence diminished or increased when considering the regular readers? Do they manage to command any sort of noteworthy influence on people who stumble onto their blog?
5. How many people does the blogger influence?
6. What do we measure when talking about a blogger’s influence and how do we measure it? What good can we get from measuring a blogger’s influence?
Finally, the question I think a lot of people want to ask or are asking indirectly, but not coming right out to say it. Does it make any sort of sense, whether we are considering ROIs or whatever metrics, to engage the (?same) few bloggers on Ping.sg?
My answer is yes. We can question whether they are really currently the influencing force we (and you know what, I think the bloggers themselves are not the main culprit in supposing this) think they are but the more important question is whether they will become the force.
Let’s look at the blogging scene in Singapore. We only have a few megastar bloggers like Mr Brown and Xiaxue. We have quite a few good sites that use blogs as a publishing tool (i.e. Culturepush). What we do not have yet, is an active, vibrant and financially sustainable ecosystem of online content creators.
These bloggers are the ones who will become part of the backbone of this ecosystem. Look at the Podfire initiative and Tech65 projects. Sure, the current product may seem a bit raw, but these are the
bloggers people (though it seems most of these folks blog too) who are discovering, exploring and learning about how to use the online space effectively and create opportunities for themselves which would not have been there in the old world of Mediacorp and SPH and other old media players.
It is like we are seeing the formation of a Chinese Chamber of Commerce for the online world.
Of course, there are other groups trying their own stuff like clicknetwork.tv which has Xiaxue (who incidentally, made her name as a blogger) as one of its headlining stars.
The key thing to note is that bloggers are one of the groups that are best positioned to take advantages of the opportunities in the nascent online world (in Singapore’s context) to be the new influencing force.
Discount them at your own peril.