Not so long ago and not very far away, mainstream journalists could bash bloggers as a lower life form. The public hadn't really showed up or weighed in yet. Today, however, that era seems as distant as the days when there were still mainstream journalism jobs and other luxury items listed on Craigslist. Ah, back in the day.
These days, bloggers are developing ever-larger and more loyal audiences. Significant groups of people interact in multiple ways with bloggers and their posts -- Tweeting them, ReTweeting them, emailing and sharing them on social networking sites, commenting in the comment fields, recommending them, or letting bloggers know privately via email or IM what they think about their latest posts.
This, of course, is mostly anecdotal, but there's also some emerging research backing it up.
One recent large-scale study of women's social media habits documents that blogs are becoming a trusted source for women across all age ranges. The study, which was sponsored by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners, found that an estimated 42 million women are actively engaged with social media every week -- 75 percent use a SNS, such as Facebook or MySpace, 55 percent blog, and 20 percent use Twitter.
In a finding that will warm the hearts of the vertical ad networks, 45 percent of the women surveyed in the study said they had decided to make a purchase after reading about it on a blog. And, significantly, the research indicated that women are reducing the time they spend with traditional media (newspapers, magazines, radio and TV); and with traditional social networking methods (talking on the telephone or meeting in person) in favor of increased online activity.
The report states that online social media have broadly become the "primary sources of community interaction, entertainment and information" for females of all age groups.
The 2009 Women and Social Media Study included interviews with 2,821 women conducted in March.