S Sridhar, VP Marketing for Two Wheelers at Bajaj Auto tells the Economic Times that the first review of their latest version of their bike Pulsar was available within three hours of launch, on a blog. Bajaj Auto, TVS Motors and Hero Honda all are tracking discussion boards like xBHP.com, yahoo groups and blogs for frank opinions from aficionados. More here.
What’s I find most interesting is that TVS doesn’t want to advertise on these sites because it might compromise the perception of impartiality of opinions. At the same time, from a marketers perspective, these are fans who would be a source of positive word-of-mouth; one possibility would be to offer them sneak peeks, or to approach them for pre-launch feedback. What I’m also wondering about is – how do these companies deal with frank opinions that aren’t necessarily positive? While there are those who question the credibility and the reach of the blogs and forums in India, there is little doubt that these are growing as influencers primarily because of perceived credibility.
On the other hand, there’s the issue of business blogs – there are those who feel that a business’ blog should be dedicated to the business, for directly addressing questions and getting feedback on products and services, or solving customer related issues. I’m not sure I agree with that – for me, a business blog is about giving a face to the people behind the business and creating an understanding between them and readers by sharing their experiences, likes and dislikes; it’s about becoming more approachable…The Cleartrip blog achieves that: the asides are as important as the business related content, else it will just be a set of FAQs. I don’t think one should restrict blogs to a specific list of do’s and don’t’s: another interesting sample is this blog for Mahindra Tractors, USA, which is a blog about the life of an American farmer.