VCIOM and ‘Platforma’ Centre for Social Design Joint Analytical Report
MOSCOW, September 24, 2020. Russian Public Opinion Research Centre and ‘Platforma’ Centre for Social Design present a study devoted to the attitudes of Russians towards bloggers.
ü Blogging becomes a profession, according to public views. Blogger is simultaneously a trend setter, a public activist and a businessman.
ü One of the side effects of professionalization is the confidence expressed by most respondents that bloggers artificially inflate the size of their audience. The image of a blogger independent of the state and business is also vague.
ü The bloggers’ audience is mainly young people; however bloggers have managed to use their core audience to engage older generations.
ü Blogging advantages as compared to traditional media are personalization, creativeness and immediate response to the agenda; this boosts trust and helps to attract more attention, which is the main ‘currency’ of the modern media.
ü Blogging is not perceived as a serious profession; it is still seen as something trendy and ephemeral. However, it becomes widely popular in such trend-setting cities as St Petersburg and Moscow. Thus, it can be concluded with a certain degree of caution that the interest in blogging as a true profession may strengthen in the foreseeable future.
WHO ARE BLOGGERS?
Public perceptions of bloggers are quite typical and do not change much. Over the recent three years there has been an increase in the share of those who say that bloggers are ‘journalists working online” (from 2% to 8%) and a decrease in the share of those who do not know what “blogger” means (from 26% to 14%) (fig. 1).
BLOGGERS AS OPINION LEADERS
Bloggers’ main support is young people
For the time being, bloggers have considerably expanded their audience and managed to secure their position in information consumption.
Not surprisingly, the target audience of bloggers is young people. Young people are more likely to read blogs and watch videos (63%). It is not only because of high Internet involvement of young people – this factor has been flattening (73% of Russians use the Internet on a daily basis; a further 12%, at least once a month). Intergenerational differences are largely caused by a huge inflow of bloggers from the young environment and new technological platforms they started to use. Their style, language and a range of topics are in tune with what they are surrounded by; at the same time older generations are more loyal towards traditional media and do not often consume content from blog posts (57% of respondents aged 45-59 and 68% of those aged 60+) (fig. 2).
Professionalization of blogging
Today both experts and broad audience agree that blogging is being professionalized. There has been a decline in the share of those who think that blogging is all about sharing thoughts and emotions (32% vs 36% in 2017) or spending time (4% vs 10% in 2017). However, a vast proportion of respondents recognize that the blogger can be perceived as a freelance artist today (15% vs 12% в 2017 г.) (fig. 3).
Turning a blog into a market product partially reduces the level of trust in bloggers and creates conditions for devaluation of personal brands. Most Russians think that paying attention to the reputation is not a guarantee that the blogger is sincere (63%) — the reputation itself is a market product, a tool to boost sales, thus it is formed technologically. Nevertheless, even here we also see a higher level of support among young respondents aged 18-24 (41%) who view online market relationships as rather natural and are likely to be less familiar with early idealistic blogging (fig. 4).
Most of respondents are confident that one of the side effects of professionalization is that bloggers artificially inflate the number of their subscribers (58%), manipulate the market and increase their capitalization (fig. 5).
Guide to the world of things
The percentage of respondents consuming bloggers’ content who recognize that their consumption behavior is influenced by bloggers is not high (23%) (fig. 6). Given that the target audience of influencers is youth, supposedly young high-skilled consumers can act as mediators or advisers for older relatives when choosing certain products, especially new goods (equipment, beauty care products, etc.). Therefore, recommendation may have an even larger impact.
The findings show that bloggers have a potential to have a huge impact on consumer behavior. Almost half of those who read or watch blogs willingly accept a product recommendation made by a blogger they are interested in (46%); this share is twice as large as the share of those who have bought something based on recommendations (23%) (fig. 7).
The platforms popular with consumers and used by bloggers to promote products are YouTube (61% of those who have bought something recommended by bloggers) and Instagram (42% respectively). TikTok, which is currently gaining popularity, still has a weak position (1%).
Emotion, creativity and relevance are key to success
Lack of objectivity and filters enabling traditional media to filter out unreliable information is not a barrier for bloggers to rise. In fact, bloggers sell emotions rather than facts, and this is proved by the findings of the study (48%) (fig. 8). That is simultaneously the blogger’s weakness and strength compared with traditional media. Blogger’s product is intentionally personalized, and that is why subscribers are interested in it. Traditional media also attempt to personalize their content by launching author’s columns or TV shows, however the authors are limited by the medium they a part of.
Operating in a highly competitive market, having an ability to quickly adapt to changes bloggers are perceived as a creative community; this viewpoint is shared by most of Russians (66%) and especially young people (79% of the 18-24—year-olds) (fig. 9). This perspective helps bloggers gain competitive advantages.
With perfect networking skills bloggers easily catch timely and relevant message grasping the perfect moment to create a wave of network discussions, building up the hype to expand the audience (77%) (fig. 10).
However, Russians are equally divided in their opinions regarding the extent to which bloggers are independent of the state and large companies (43% : 43%). Remarkably, young people do not tend to view bloggers as being independent (57%) (fig. 11).
Amidst discussions and great changes in the job market in the 21st century, the question arises as to whether the blogging professionalization is a stable trend or merely a temporary phenomenon which may lower the interest in blogging in the future. The average number of those who are skeptical is higher (51%); but most of young people tend to be optimistic (50% of those aged 18-24) (fig. 12). The share of those who show interest in this profession is higher in Moscow and St Petersburg (40% and 37% respectively).
Nevertheless, interest in blogging as a profession is quite high. Every tenth Russian would like his/her children or grandchildren to become bloggers (14%); this share is twice as high among young respondents aged 18-24 (25%) (fig. 13). To sup up, wide recognition of blogging as a profession of the future seems to be coming soon.
Most of respondents perceive bogging as an “unserious activity” - this is the main reason why blogging is not welcome (fig. 14). People who are conservative trust traditional professions, such as production jobs or other jobs recognized in the market (in IT industry, for example).
Russian VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on September 05, 2020. Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,600 Russians aged 18 and older. A stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of Russian landline and mobile phone number was used. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes to the wording of questions and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.