Our second study is an omnibus survey that attempts to see what the link is between political blogging and activism – - in other words, if you read blogs (or write them) are you more or less likely to take action as a result. A couple of weeks ago I was with well known PR blogger Neville Hobson and he was trying to teach me how the social press release should be written, but in this case, given time and client commitments, I hope you don’t mind if I merely attach the mainstream media style release (stick with me Neville I’ll improve I promise). Coupled with the research I posted earlier today on the mainstream media coverage of political blogs, I think what we have shown is that the impact of blogs on the coverage of politics and on political action itself is evident and is increasing. I know you will all have views on these assertions and I’m looking forward to your comments.
Tomorrow by the way we will have even more data for you in the form of the Edelman/Technorati top 100 blogger rankings.
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New Transatlantic Poll Reveals Significant Impact of Blogs on Political Activism
Nearly one-third of Blog readers moved to action in US, France and UK
Brussels—October 9, 2006 — A new survey of consumers released today in the European Parliament, revealed that nearly a quarter of the population in the U.S., UK, and France, read blogs at least once a week and of that group nearly one-third are moved to undertake some type of political action. And while only 14% of those polled in Belgium read a blog at least once a week, 43% of that group was inclined to take some sort of action.
Most notably, what once was viewed as a geographic disparity between the U.S. and Europe regarding the role of blogging in public affairs appears to have dissipated, with France and the UK nearly matching their U.S. counterparts in their reading of blogs and their subsequent call to action as a result.
“We are seeing the continued growth of online political activism through the medium of blogs making them no longer an option, but rather part of the price for entry into the political forum”, said Edelman CEO, Richard Edelman. “Not only are more people reading blogs, but blogs are now acting as political action accelerators and creating a bridge between the online and real worlds.”
The survey revealed in an average week, just under a quarter of respondents in the UK (23%) and France (22%) and slightly more in the U.S. (27%) read blogs. And of those that read blogs nearly a third in France (26%), UK (27%) and the USA (28%) took some sort of action after reading a blog.
Signing a petition was the most common activity undertaken in all four countries (UK 43%, France 37%, USA 36%, Belgium 24%) followed next, again in all three countries, by having attended a public meeting on local issues (UK 23%, France 24%, the USA 26% and Belgium 6%). This was followed in the UK by having served as an officer for a club (15%) and in France the third most popular prompted action was having served on a committee of a local organization (15%).
“People don’t realize that the blogosphere is becoming a true citizen’s forum and bloggers are the garage bands of politics,” said Graham Watson, Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for the European Parliament. “What we need to understand is the blogosphere is half forensic lab and half coffee house.”
Of the four countries surveyed, US respondents were more politically involved and more publicly active in expressing their views than their European counterparts. The US respondents were twice as likely (21%) to have written or called a politician, their third most popular activity, than in the UK (10%), France (8%) and Belgium (6%). They also were more likely than the other three countries to have contacted the media to express an opinion (USA 18% cf. UK 9% France 8% Belgium 5%), to have written an article for a magazine/newspaper (USA 16%, cf. UK 8% France 5% Belgium 3%) and to have worked for a political party (USA 6%, UK & France 2% Belgium 6%).
People interviewed in France, the USA and Belgium was significantly more likely to have attended a political rally, speech or organized protest (France 12%, USA 10 %,) compared to the UK (6%) and Belgium (6%).
Even more notable was the impact of blogging on “opinion leaders” – respondents who participated in at least three actions outlined in the survey. While the percentage of opinion leaders that read blogs once a week or more remained the same when compared to the average consumer, it leaped significantly in the UK (23% to 35%), France (22% to 36%) and Belgium (14% to 41%).
Similarly, a significant spike was evident among opinion leaders that access blogs and their propensity to take action when compared to consumers jumping from 28% to 48% in the UK, 27% to 32% in France, 28% to 49% in the USA and 43% to 84% in Belgium.
Overall, there were noted differences in the reading of blogs when looking at sex and gender – with more men reading blogs then women and younger populations (18-24 years old) reading more than their older counterparts. The men who participated in this survey in both the UK and France claimed to be more frequent readers of blogs than the women. In the USA the average was also higher for men, but less so.
On the whole, in the UK, Belgium and France the younger the age the more frequently they read blogs. This was particularly evident in France. In the UK the results were affected by a significant proportion of 25-34 year olds (8%) who claimed to read blogs everyday compared to the total (4%). In the USA the 18-24 year olds were far more frequent readers of blogs than the older groups.
The execution of this study was carried out by international research firm, StrategyOne, a subsidiary of Edelman using an omnibus survey in each of four countries: UK, France, Belgium and the USA. The sample comprised of 1002 respondents in the UK, 940 in France, 1000 in the USA and 937 in Belgium. The fieldwork for the UK, France, the USA and Belgium was conducted in September 2006.