As you know from Monday’s review of recent Overblog research, there are stark cultural differences in European bloggers and those of us in America. Perhaps the most shocking statistic from Overblog’s research is the lack of transparency in many European blogs.
According to Overblog’s survey of 5,000 U.S. and European bloggers, just 32 percent of those in Europe say they use their actual identify when blogging. That means that two-thirds of them are masking their identity online and hiding who they really are from their audience.
It seems the world of transparency is a Western Hemisphere tenet. Perhaps this has something to do with more stringent laws and respect for personal privacy in Europe, but it could also be that the maturity of corporate culture there isn’t to the point that someone blogging on their own time is not some sort of threat to company sensitivities.
My guess is that U.S. bloggers were far more secretive about who they were from the late 1990s to about 2006 or 2007, but the ubiquity of personal and professional blogging evolved to the point that most companies began to accept blogging as a personal, public activity their employees might participate in. For companies looking to Europe for blogger outreach and active social media programs, it would be smart to understand this difference in approaches.
Europe obviously doesn’t have the Federal Trade Commission standards Americans have. The question is: will they? Perhaps a better question in the short term is, “What does this mean?”
For American companies exploring Europe as an emerging market, it offers a temptation: Do you adopt a “when in Rome” attitude and take advantage of the lack of disclosure requirements and a comparatively immature marketplace to push your product to unwitting audiences and aggressive blog authors? Or, do you take the American approach and insist on disclosure and “white hat” outreach and promotional techniques to ensure the integrity of your brand?
Then there’s the more META question of integrity. Does the anonymity or masked identity of a blogger change your perception of them as a trusted resource? Certainly, there are anonymous bloggers in the U.S. as well. But is transparency just a notion the echo chamber of social media evangelists holds sacred? Do mainstream blog readers care?
As a marketer, you should want to know the answer to that, too. A perceived lack of integrity may effect whether or not you approach one blogger over another.
Regardless of the answers, the differences in U.S. and European bloggers in this area is fascinating. It has implications on how we as marketers approach blogger outreach, public relations and even advertising. Discussing the reasons for the differences and the implications of them in the marketplace will only make us all smarter
So, for you European bloggers and marketers, why the secrecy? Are there disclosure regulations in certain countries we Americans should know about? How are European social media practitioners and public relations folks approaching bloggers there and what is effective. Please share your experiences to we can all grow from the discourse.
The comments, as always, are yours.
Note: Overblog is a Social Media Explorer client.
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