By Alexia Leachman, Founder of www.headtrash.co.uk

One thing that really struck me when reading the Technorati report — though I shouldn’t really be surprised as we’ve all seen it coming — is the fact that blogs are now the third highest source for influencing purchasing decisions amongst consumers.

And at 31 per cent they’re only three per cent behind the actual brand sites themselves. The biggest influencer, Technorati found, was retail sites (56 per cent).

Personal brands (bloggers) were even more of an influence on consumer spending than friends’ networks Twitter (eight per cent) or Facebook (30 per cent) and much higher than online magazines (20 per cent).

The reason for this, many speculate, is that bloggers are prepared to give honest opinions on a brand — the good and the bad points together. That makes sense - when was the last time you ever saw a brand ‘diss’ itself on its own website?

Small is beautiful
Well, that’s according to the report anyway. Consumers, it seems, are more likely to be influenced by a personal brand with a ‘medium-sized’ following than an A-lister. But interestingly company brands don’t seem to take this data on board, with many going for the ‘big hitters’ because they believing there is more chance of their blog post going viral. What the report seems to suggest is that there is far more trust building going on, together with a forging of close relationships, in a smaller community than a personal brand with thousands of followers.

Facebook is where big brands like to be seen
Around 10 per cent of a company’s online marketing efforts these days are being spent on social media and a whopping 57 per cent of that budget is being spent on corporate favourite Facebook. Could it be because it’s the original social media channel? Or maybe it’s because the feedback metrics are clear and easy to understand?

It’s all about community
The main finding of the report is an encouraging one for company brands. It’s that community builds trust and influence more than popularity. In other words, what it’s saying is that you don’t need the big hitting personal brands to ‘win friends and influence people’ - little Lauren round the corner who’s building up a tidy little following with her regular blog posts is equally as valuable and more importantly, will be much easier to reach and keep happy.

Alexia Leachman is a mojo-hunter and helps business leaders to find their mojo by helping them to clear their head trash, tell their story, raise their profile, build their digital presence and manage their reputation. Alexia is also the founder of www.headtrash.co.uk and she regularly speaks and writes, and has authored a chapter on Online Reputation for the book “Hit me! The Secrets of getting your small business to punch its weight online”. You can follow her on Twitter at @AlexiaL and find out more at www.alexialeachman.com