Last month EM heard from Stefania Pomponi-Butler just one of a handful of Nintendo Wii’s Mom’s Night Out event hostesses to find out what got her writing rave reviews and sparking positive word-of-mouth on her popular citymama.com blog. This month we dig deeper to find out how brands can best navigate the volatile world of online popular opinion. Whether they’re talking about your brands already or if you hope they might want to some words of advice (and warning) from the blogosphere for engaging their influential fingers of fire.
Liz Gumbinner New York City-based freelance ad agency creative director mother of two proprietor of Mom 101 (mom-101.blogspot.com) and contributor to Cool Mom Picks (motherhooduncensored.type pad.com/coolmompicks).
Alan McLeod full-time lawyer and dad and proprietor of A Good Beer Blog since 2003 (beerblog. genx40.com). A Good Beer Blog is number one on Google for the search term “beer blog.”
Stefania Pomponi-Butler full-time mother of two and former marketer runs City Mama blog (citymama.com) and contributes to Kimchi Mamas blog (kimchimamas. typepad.com).
Starting Points. Basic search terms on Google can tell you who’s already talking about you but that’s just the first step. For traffic numbers look at Technorati (technorati.com) or Alexa (alexa.com) or check to see if the blog is part of an ad network such as BlogHer which offers 1 100 select women’s blogs and 7.6 million eyeballs to advertisers in its network. Take note that one blogger may have several blogs each with different readerships and interests. Gumbinner for example writes about her kids at Mom 101 but writes reviews for commercial products at Cool Mom Picks. Some bloggers also host separate review blogs dedicated to talking about your brands but they may have fewer impressions than the blog with all the traffic numbers.
Read Blogs. Nothing chaps a blogger’s hide faster than a blanket pitch with a loose attempt at personalization. “Relationship building is time-consuming so [marketers] often pass it off to interns ” says Gumbinner of the 20 impersonal press releases she receives daily. Pretending like you’ve read your target blogger’s blogs is an insult and can do more damage than good. Dedicate the time and staff resources to read them. “If you don’t get familiar with my blog you won’t come across as someone I want to deal with ” says McLeod.
Be Professional. As impactful as they can be blogs are frequently a side gig for the folks who write them. All the same build goodwill by extending bloggers the same courtesy you would any other working journalist. McLeod for example is a full-time lawyer and dad so he prefers marketers contact him by e-mail and during regular business hours. “I was once called by a distributor on a Friday night which meant we had to stop the kids pizza night while I talked to them about their idea ” he says. “It sounds like a little thing but blogging is a relatively small part of my life.”
Minimize Follow-up. Bloggers thrive on immediacy. “If I get a press release that’s relevant to me I’ll write about it that day ” says Gumbinner. If you don’t get a bite right away lay off the pressure or face being shut out all together. (Or worse getting a bad rep as a pest online. Beware—bloggers name names!) “If I write about it I write about it. It’s up to you to look it up ” says Pomponi-Butler. “I’m too busy to keep track for you.”
Show Them the Money. “Bloggers are becoming increasingly media savvy so they’re understanding that blogs are a cost-effective way to get a message out without advertising ” says Gumbinner. It’s not unusual for marketers to buy ads send high-priced product samples or invite target bloggers to special events. The gestures don’t guarantee a good review but they acknowledge the blogger’s time and can often help the brands get noticed. “[Blogger’s] needs are quite modest ” says McLeod. “If you like them and want them to tell the story of [your brand] the money to independently assess your brews is a great way to do it—and at low cost to you.”
Assess the Risk. Don’t ask bloggers to engage with your product unless you’re ready for an honest review. McLeod recently wrote about how over-priced a particular product was. The review—including the maker’s response—now sits at number one on Google above the manufacturer’s own site. “A lot of us are pretty candid so if you’re hawking something and your sensibility is a little tender blogs may not be a good fit ” says Pomponi-Butler.