“Working for trade is genius, especially in this economy” Nate Bagely, OrangeSoda
I was recently part of a social media retreat that included sponsors like Sorel and Frito-Lay. We had guides take us fly fishing and horseback riding. Brands donated products for us to try. All in the hopes that we would blog about them.
When I go to these events, I can instantly tell if a company understands the impact of this group. If they do, we’re treated like royalty. Otherwise, they think of us as a group of moms who have nothing better to do than try to get something for free. The fly fishing outfitters didn’t get it and so there won’t be reviews at all, or at least not glowing reviews.
Bigger brands often see the value of engaging bloggers. But for many small businesses working with bloggers is new and unknown. Yet it can be an effective marketing tool. At OrangeSoda we’ve helped businesses navigate this by helping them identify local bloggers. If you find and treat them well, the relationship can be beneficial. You get exposure to their readers (in the form of links, search engine results, product photos and video, etc). They get free product for themselves and their readers.
For the women who blog and who have a decent following, interacting with brands has become part of blogging. Recently, it has gotten the attention of the FTC. BlogHer, one of the foremost blogging conferences for women just wrapped up last month. One of the most popular sessions at BlogHer was about endorsements and testimonials from bloggers. There was a lot of debate over the ethics of reviewing products or recommending them after being wined and dined by advertisers who hoped for good reviews.
The FTC is reviewing their guidelines for endorsements and testimonials and may pass a new version later this summer that includes policing bloggers. It’s quite ominous.
“If the plans are approved, the FTC will actively go after bloggers who fail to disclose if they're being compensated for their words. The FTC could then order violators to stop and pay restitution to consumers, or even sic the Justice Department on them for civil penalties. While penalties for failure to disclose financial interest have existed in the past, the FTC is broadening the scope of the media it is actively reviewing to cover blogs and bloggers. It may have been watching before, but now it's prepared to pounce.”
BlogHer released a survey of almost 3,000 women (here’s the link to the PDF) and found that
to seek information, advice and recommendations. And the BlogHer sponsored posts section is one of the most popular.
Why are bloggers so coveted by brands? Bloggers in the study were online the most, were the most active in social media, identify themselves as being leading edge, and are the most tech savvy. They are the smallest segment with the largest reach.
Some cry that blogging is dead, but it’s far from it. While women use social media, it’s more for building relationships and keeping in touch. They go to blogs to get opinions on products. From the survey: Women are 50 percent more likely to turn to social networking sites as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family (75%), and go to blogs to seek product reviews. In other words, generally speaking people trust the opinions of these bloggers.
“Of the 42 million women engaged in social media weekly, 55 percent of women participate in some form of blogging activity; 75 percent participate in social networks such as Facebook or MySpace and 20 percent use Twitter.”
Blogs and social networks are displacing other forms of media and entertainment where businesses traditionally advertise: “As a result of this increased activity, the 2009 study found that women online are now more than ever before spending less time engaging in traditional media activities like watching TV (30%), listening to the radio (31%), and reading magazines (36%) or the newspaper (39%).”
For any business, you want to be where you have the biggest influence. Blogging is an ideal fit for many. In essence it’s a trade. And “working for trade is genius, especially in this economy” Nate Bagely, SEO analyst at OrangeSoda.
You don’t need to have a blog to reach customers through blogging. You just need to engage with bloggers by finding ones who are a fit for your products or services and then approaching them about ways you could work together. More bloggers are being proactive and asking advertisers for products. Either way, it’s an inexpensive form of marketing – but if you do it, be sure to ask bloggers to disclose that the resulting posts were sponsored.