You have a contest, a new product, a new Facebook page—should you pay bloggers to help you promote it?
Let’s consider not paying. What do you get when you don’t pay? You often get second rate support. Or, no support. Or, content that reflects the bloggers’ mood, not your product benefits.
I receive e-mails every day from brands and PR firms announcing new books, products, contests, and more. Each of them would like me to love their pitch enough to write about it on my blog. Some of the ideas are creative and interesting and I take about two seconds to consider using my blog to market them. Mostly, I write a note back to the brand or PR firm and ask, “Did your local newspaper offer to promote this for free? If they don’t do free advertising, why should I?” After all, my blog is much more targeted than the newspaper.
Here’s the rub—too many people (brands, PR firms, ad agencies) believe that bloggers blog just for fun. That wasn’t even true in the early days of blogging and it’s patently wrong-headed thinking now. Bloggers with a devoted readership work hard to build the right audience. They take their blogs and content seriously. They attend conferences to learn how to be better bloggers and how to do professional reviews of products and services. They spend time and money on design and functionality, to make their blog search engine friendly. They connect their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Google+ and other social tools to their blog, in order to offer multiple touch-points to brands they work with.
The truth is, every blogger is worth something. Despite some people’s assertion that you should always get blogger coverage for free, smart brands will recognize that every blogger is connected not only to their readers, but to their readers’ audience. Networks connected to other networks—there is nothing more powerful than that. Over on Brafton News, they report, “… 53 percent of respondents (of a BlogHer’s Social Media Matters Study): indicated that they trust the information on blogs they visit regularly.”
Stephanie Azzarone, over at Engage, recently wrote an article titled, “Pay Me, Why Don’t You” in which she gave companies advice on how to pay bloggers. Specifically, mom bloggers. She believes companies can engage mom bloggers via brand ambassadorships—where the blogger writes a series of posts supporting the brand. For pay. She mentions hiring bloggers for content—especially when you see a good writer in your own brand community. She also mentions Twitter parties. If you’re not paying bloggers to market you via these ideas, you’re missing out on powerful messaging that is better than any TV ad or magazine four-color print ad, both of which you will pay thousands or hundreds of thousands, for.
But, that’s not all. Janice Croze over at Momcrunch has a great post on this same topic—paying bloggers. She offers “5 Reasons Why Companies Should Hire Mom Bloggers.” She says, “Moms are Listening…and Loyal.” Her point is that moms listen to other moms. Why do you think there are so many mommy bloggers? Because women want to connect to other women and moms want other moms to help them buy product, raise their kids, train their pets. They will follow the advice of their favorite mom blogger, every time.
Perhaps more powerful than any other reason, is Croze’s second reason: Invest in the infrastructure. “Essentially,” she writes, “companies are helping to build the roads they want to use.” Do you get it? You want a big four-color ad in a major mall where women shop every day? It’s on a mom blogger’s blog. And, though it will cost, it will cost less than the TV ad or the print ad.
Mommy bloggers are just one community group brands have the opportunity to tap into. We know food bloggers are among the most popular—we all have to eat, right? We are beginning to learn that pet bloggers can command attention, also. These are powerful voices that will help you reach the buyers of your products or services, if you treat them with respect. That means paying them for their time, their space, and their advice—it does not mean paying them to write nice things about you.
Free will get you exactly what you pay for: Babble. Sometimes, it will get you more than that—it will get you added to a list of brands that don’t take bloggers seriously. This means your e-mail inviting the blogger to participate in your program, will get deleted or put at the bottom of the “never follow up” list.