Blogging site IndiBlogger helps brands talk to customers

05 Jul,2012

By Preethi Chamikutty

 

For most of us a blog is a destination to put up a view, an experience, a rant, videos and photos – some vivid, others vicarious – and then get back to a mundane life. But five hardcore bloggers from Chennai decided to be an exception when they founded IndiBlogger.in, a congregation of Indian bloggers who totalled some 27,000 at last count.

 

With a tagline ‘Indians by birth, bloggers by choice,’ the IndiBlogger team fields more than 70 requests daily from wannabe Indibloggers. Vineet Rajan, 27, one of the directors who set up the site said: “We started off trying to just create a directory that allowed bloggers to submit their blogs.”

 

Over the years, more features have been added based on what the community demanded on its discussion forums. For instance, the site now has IndiVine, a chat application, and Indi-Rank, a ranking algorithm for bloggers in India.

 

In many ways, in its current avatar IndiBlogger is a social network for Indian bloggers.

 

“It’s like LinkedIn for bloggers with an exclusive dashboard, and activity feeds that let them track other bloggers’ posts, and more,” Mr Rajan pointed out.

 

It’s a unique concept and community, but at the end of the day it needs to make money. IndiBlogger’s revenue stream is, what Rajan calls, “earned media”, which he says is what brands are clamouring for. “With its blogs IndiBlogger can help brands build more trust and credibility than any other online media can,” he claimed.

 

Mr Rajan cites Neilsen Global Trust in Advertising survey, 2011 that shows less than a third of netizens trust ads; in comparison 92 per cent who have faith in peer and word-of-mouth recommendations.

 

IndiBlogger’s first brand engagement was with Microsoft through a blogger meet in 2007. Since then IndiBlogger has organized 50 such congregations; these have been coupled with over 50 contests with brands across sectors like consumer goods, travel & aviation and retailing among others. Samsung, Pepsi, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), Castrol, Cleartrip and Tata Docomo are some brands that have engaged with consumers through IndiBlogger.

 

Last November, HUL’s Surf Excel used IndiBlogger to engage with women bloggers on the site via a blogger contest called ‘Surf Excel Matic #GetSmart.’

 

Targeted at urban women in the 25+ age group, Surf managed to reach a little over 25 lakh netizens using IndiBlogger and its tools like IndiRank and IndiVine, says an HUL spokesperson. Maximum readers were from the cities of Bengaluru, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune.

 

“Bloggers are publishers and the popular ones have a good readership .They know the art of expressing their views and thoughts on a certain topic in an interesting way which also wins them dedicated following over time. The popular bloggers also have good networking skills which they use to publicise the content on their blogs on various social platforms,” said the HUL spokesperson.

 

When popular bloggers write about a brand and its core message, it reaches their followers and readers of the blog. This also results in a lot of user-generated content for the brand, essentially making these bloggers the brand’s ambassadors, added the HUL spokesperson.

 

In the Surf Excel Matic contest, although only 41per cent of the participants were women, they garnered more than 55per cent of the entire readership of the campaign, thereby, helping the campaign achieve its objective.

 

For Castrol, which wanted to engage with passionate bikers, IndiBlogger was an extension of the lubricant brand’s presence in digital and social media. In the ‘Castrol Power1 Biker code of India’ contest, bloggers were encouraged to share what biking meant to them. The contest got 170 entries and the blogs attracted an audience of roughly 1 million viewers within the first 30 days of the campaign.

 

“Besides creating a powerful platform to engage with bikers, the contest enabled us to gather rich insights about our target group, which is the passionate biker,” said Saugata Basuray, deputy head of marketing at Castrol India.

 

Besides being an aggregator, IndiBlogger also provides assistance to people who approach the site with technical queries about how to make a blog, how to get a domain name and so on.

 

A 14-member team spread across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and Delhi are responsible for maintaining the site, providing assistance and monitoring for offensive content. The blogger meets are mostly outsourced to event management companies who liaison with core members of the IndiBlogger team.

 

Started with an investment of Rs10,000, the site turned profitable in June

2010 and, according to Mr Rajan, their blogger database grew 37 per cent in 2011-12 over the previous fiscal year. He is wary talking about the company financials but says the website is on track to achieve $2 million revenues by 2015.

 

Blogs are today gaining currency as a medium for engagement and Kanika Mathur, president, Digitas India, a digital marketing agency, says the influence that blogs can have on a brand is hard to dismiss. “People who go online today are looking for a point of view, so either they get this point of view from the brand or from a third person. Bloggers are a set of experienced people whose opinion has great credibility as they are not from the brand side,” she said.

 

Source: The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

 

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