Yesterday I was recommend to read a blogpost by Belgian Blogger Herman Maes from Dailybits who launched a question about bloggers: Should bloggers be added to the marketingmix? (All the blogposts that I’ll mention here are in Dutch, sorry!)
I’m also a blogger, but not the type of blogger his post is about. It was never my intention to also write about this topic… until I read a blogpost by @issuus called “Prostitute of the Internet” and couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking about it.
She is very honest in her blog post and confesses that her blog became a blog you stay away from: a blogger who blogs for freebies, goodies & money and in return writes (not so) hidden advertising in the form of a positive article about a product or brand. She also admits that she was punished for this by her audience, and received less and less reach. Which is pretty normal because people are not stupid. When you’re not a blogger who’s critical, your readers will quickly notice this and abandon you. Most agencies and companies however will probably keep contacting because they mostly select based on Klout-score and your number of followers… The only thing what bothered me in her post was her last sentence which I translated as follows:
“Brands, companies & government services please do work with bloggers & influentials. But don’t go for the mass. Turn to a good communication agency for advice like (Supermachine, u-hum) or a PR agency (Walkie Talkie, u-hum).”
For me this is ‘hidden’ advertising all over again, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to mention & promote the agency you work for in the same post where you indicate that your credibility as a blogger is or was lost…
As a Social Media Consultant, as a Digital Account & Project Manager in advertising and as an Online Marketing Manager in a company I’ve worked with bloggers. My recommendation is the following (no matter if you work for an agency or if you’re hunting for bloggers as a company or brand): be critical en selective, not only for the bloggers but also for yourself and your customer, company or brand. Check the below Paid, Earned & Owned media model and make sure that bloggers are mostly providing you earned media.
Are you going to give bloggers something in return? Of course, only the sun shines for nothing, but make sure that what you give doesn’t effect what they will write. Here are some examples to clarify what I mean with this:
Lessons from the hotel industry
Avoid bloggers that want to stay in your hotel in exchange for a free stay, and a positive review on TripAdvisor and on their own social media channels. When you do receive such a request from a blogger inform him or her that collaborations like that are not your cup of tea. Most bloggers will understand and appreciate this, and what’s more is that they will probably tell other bloggers about this so that the number of similar requests that you receive will drop. Only work with bloggers that have a relevant approach and a clear concept or idea. But more important: go for bloggers that promise that they’ll be transparant when they provide feedback. Your company will benefit from that: what’s good about your product, brand or service will be put in the spotlight, what is bad will be mentioned as well but you’ll learn from that and will be able to make your hotel or company even better and stronger! And when that same blogger still visits your hotel years later, but as a ‘paying’ guest you’ll know that you’ve genereated earned media 😉
App- or contest launches
When you launch an app you have a very clear goal: you want that as many people as possible download the app AND use it. Oooooh but let’s search for bloggers with a lot of followers, we give them some free stuff and send them a clear document with everything we want them to say (okay they may rewrite it a bit) and we’re done. Men, those number of downloads are going to explode! Okay, rewind and push that bullshit-button right now! Look for bloggers that are genuinely interested in the topic of your app or the app itself. Yes, you may have a look at their Klout-score, but this shouldn’t be a decision factor (don’t forget that an offline network also has importance). Don’t put words in their mouth. Of course you may and should provide them all the info you have about your app, but make sure that they know that you want honest and sincere feedback. Did you know that most of them will share their negative feedback directly with you (offline) so you can still do something about this, and maybe even improve your app before they write about it?! Keep that in mind and involve them as soon as possible in the development process so that you’ll create an app with a real value, and that people will want to use. For contest launches my view is a bit different => first I would try to persuade bloggers in a creative way (without pushing them) to write about my contest. Is it not possible to be original, fine I will just send them the info and might link an incentive to it, but the incentive might not ‘oblige’ to write about it. Even in this kind of situation you’re transparent, cause the bloggers will clearly mention that it’s about a give-away or contest and there’s nothing wrong with that: we all like to get and win things!
To answer the initial question: yes, in my opinion bloggers may be added to the marketingmix, but it’s not a must and the way you work with them is crucial, for both parties btw…