Bloggers and internet pundits are exerting a “disproportionately large influence” on society, a report by technology researchers says.
The study suggests that while “active” web users make up only a small proportion of Europe’s online population, they are increasingly dominating public conversations and creating business trends.
More than half of the continent’s internet users are passive and do not contribute to the web at all, while a further
23 per cent only respond when prompted. But the remainder who do engage with the net – through message boards, websites and blogs – are helping change national conversations, the study says.
“We’re seeing this growing,” said Julian Smith, an online advertising analyst with JupiterResearch and author of the report.
“The strongest part of their influence is on the media: if something online suddenly becomes a story in the local press, then it matters.”
Although unprompted contributors were generally younger and more vocal than the wider online population, they were increasingly important as opinion formers and trendsetters. Mr Smith said businesses, media organisations and advertisers reading blogs should be wary of making assumptions about their wider significance but that their muscle could not be ignored.
“They’re not representative of the larger audience, but what they’re saying does matter,” he said. “It’s a good straw poll – a snapshot of the verbal conversations going on that we can’t measure.”