Bloggers Have More Influence on Purchases Than Celebrities, Study Says

Hollywood’s hottest may get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to plug a product over Twitter or Facebook, but according to a new study released Wednesday, people are more influenced by the opinion of a blogger (yes, just a regular human being) when it comes to learning more about products or making a purchase.

According to the BlogHer 2011 Social Media Matters Study, 78 percent of the female American adult populations are active social media users, and of those, nearly twice as many (20 percent) are motivated to consider products promoted by or with a blogger they know, than they are by promotions featuring a celebrity (12 percent).

“There is a definite trend we’ve seen where people trust the opinion of a regular person, we trust any person force more than any corporate force when it comes to getting advice and recommendations,” Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder and COO of BlogHer told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Experience can now be seen as expertise, if an individual reviews a lip balm, their opinion becomes more important than what a beauty magazine says.”

And personal branding and marketing guru Dan Schawbel said it simply comes to the fact that the average American can’t identify with Tinseltown types.

“Most Americans can’t relate to celebrities because they themselves aren’t rich, famous and powerful. Instead, Americans can cling to people like them who might also have a blog that interests them. Normal people are much more relatable than celebrities,” he explained. “Celebrities haven’t lost clout but there are new influencers that consumers trust that are gaining clout faster than celebrities.”

The BlogHer study also found that close to half (47 percent) of U.S blog readers tap into blogs for finding new trends or ideas, 35 percent for finding out about new products, and one in four for help with making a purchasing decision.

So will this influence the way corporations spend their money and who they hire to hawk their goods and services?

“Corporations who are trying to target a specific market should invest in several blogs that cater to that market. It’s a cheaper, more effective and measurable way of advertising,” Schawbel said. “Mommy bloggers are already being paid money by corporations who want to tap into their audience. Women, in general, are the decision makers and consumers in a family so they are desirable by corporations.”

One such woman making waves in the blogosphere is Averie Sunshine, a mom, model and health food enthusiast who details her daily adventures (and misadventures) in all things food, fitness and family in her popular blog Love Veggies & Yoga – although she too has to be careful not to get to wrapped up in the corporate arena and alienate her followers.

“Companies of all kinds, not just vegan or more holistically based companies, send me products.  As a food blogger, we are required to disclose on our blogs if something was free or sent to us for review.  We are able to post our honest reviews of the product or item, but need to disclose who sent it and that it was not free or purchased with our own money,” Sunshine said. “I think companies that are in touch with the power of blogs and social media are eager to have their products featured on blogs since they know how much influence blogs have and how viral word of mouth can work wonders.”

And Hollywood stars be warned – social networking, like tweeting, doesn’t always build your fan base in a positive way.

“With celebrities it is a double-edged sword, they now have all these tools to interact with people and they can cross over and become the relatable ‘person that I know,’ but our expectation of transparency has changed,” Camahort Page added. “People do notice when a celebrity has a million followers but they’re only following 48 people and they’re all other celebrities, or when you @reply to someone 80 times and they never once respond. Therefore they aren’t really engaging. Celebrities have a huge opportunity to control their own persona, but it also opens them up to disappoint fans too.”