Have you done your blog reading for the day?

It’s easy to think that reading blogs is a time-wasting activity, but blogs can provide some of the most insightful market research and reveal incredible PR opportunities.

With popular blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr, anyone can get up and typing within minutes. That means that the blogosphere is no longer the exclusive domain of journalists and professional experts. We now have the means to hear the honest voices of our potential clients and customers in a very unique way.

Perhaps you have heard of so-called “mommy blogs”—blogs that new mothers set up to share the trials and triumphs of child rearing. According to recent studies, the number of mommy bloggers is somewhere in the realm of 4 million. That’s a lot of mommies!

Now, if you aren’t a parent, you probably aren’t terribly interested in this sort of blogging. But for certain services, this community of blogs is an amazing opportunity to tap into the real-world experiences of parenting. Health care providers, for example, can hear real stories about child illness, hygiene, nutrition and interaction with doctors.

Is this starting to sound more like market research?

Join the conversation
Not only can mommy blogs and their counterparts give us insight into what the community is talking about, but they also offer a way for us, as social Web users, to join in on the discussion.

We, as experts, can comment and interact with bloggers by offering advice, reacting to personal experience and asking questions. Instead of relying solely on trends and analytics, reading and interacting with blogs lets consumers speak for themselves, in their own words. And you should pay attention!

Brand exposure through blogs
Some of the most popular mommy blogs focus on experiences with new and popular baby products. Why? Because raising kids is a new game for most parents, and it makes sense to turn to experienced sources for advice.

Just like pitching stories to traditional media outlets, you might consider pitching your brand or product to writers. Many leading brands offer bloggers free samples to try and review. If a product gets a good review on a blog, it gives the brand some serious street cred.

Look for your blogging community
Blogs exist for virtually every field, not just parenting. There are blogs for music lovers, photographers, consumer advocates, senior citizens, and pretty much anything you can imagine. If you can find your blogging community and tap into its great resources, you will get a better sense of what people are talking about, and you might just find some great opportunities to promote your brand.