On the interactive media landscape, brands consistently see evidence that the web has a high degree of influence on purchase behavior, particularly when prospects want to learn more about a product. But there are many ways in which people use the web, and it's important to understand what elements of a web presence have the most influence on purchase decisions. A good deal of evidence suggests that not only are customers influenced by push media -- like advertising -- but also by the contributions of their peers. In short, customers are not only turning to information provided by companies, they're also turning to one another.
It's important to understand that a key characteristic of online commentary is that it tends to be persistent. That is, when customers post their opinions to online forums like blogs, message boards, discussion groups and the like, those opinions stick around and can influence future purchase decisions made by others. If your job description includes stewardship of your brand, the opportunity in seeking out brand commentary online is the ability to influence points of view. Joining the conversation is the most compelling way to do that.
Obviously, before you can join the conversation, you need to find out where it's happening.
Next: Your blog is just the beginning