Market Sentinel, Onalytica and Immediate Future of PR have co-written a white paper called Measuring the Impact of Blogs on Brands.

They took a scientific approach to objectively demonstrate which bloggers both have the authority and ability to affect corporate reputation.

By using the science of “citation indexing” via Google page listings and a Dell case study, they were able to quantify and analyze how bloggers can impact a company’s brand image.

It also analyzed their indirect influence as well as direct impact: proving that blogging has a significant affect on reputation.

Their example illustrated blogger Jeff Jarvis and his blogsite Buzzmachine. When he had a faulty Dell laptop and a negative experience of Dell’s customer service, he blogged all about it. The story also got picked up by maintream coverage from the Washington Post, The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

In conclusion, the white paper stated that:

  • Dell sustained long-term damage to its brand image because the bloggers became cheerleaders for the poor reputation of Dell’s customer services.
  • Bloggers have been exercising their power and authority at the expense of the conventional media sources such as the Washington Post and The New York Times.
  • Part of the impact of blogs is the “my story” phenomenon. If I am reporting on something that has happened to me I am the most authoritative source – at the cost of the corporation’s dwindling influence.
  • Blogs can be both influential and highly negative in their impact. Also, because bloggers tend to “operate in packs” their continual references can result in huge amount of Google listings. Try “Dell” and “problems” at Google and you’ll see how this can easily happen.

Corporations, then, must do what they can to combat these negative bloggers and build their own reputations with community-building and/or helpful business blogs. By adding your own commentary and thought leadership about your brand, products, and services, you’ll help to influence search engines to list your more relevant stories.

The white paper is available for download here.