It’s been months since I shared my thoughts on social media or blogger outreach/ engagement. My last post was in September! It’s not that I’ve got nothing to share, in fact, I’ve got too many thoughts and opinions that I do not know where to start. And having something up my sleeve *cough*, I’d decided to ignore noises and concentrate on the tasks on hand.
But since there’s some sharing lately on this topic, let’s just carry on with it while everyone’s having this topic in mind. If you’ve not read Brain’s take on why are there blogger events, you might want to pop over first before you continue reading this post.
I’m trying to organize my thoughts as I’m typing this post. So again, it may end up incoherent. I’ll try my best to make it as coherent as possible.
So, the questions that I’m trying to ponder…
- Why are bloggers being engaged by agencies/ brands?
- “Why they’re invited but not me?” The social media problem.
- What’s good about getting invited?
- What’s the bad that others don’t see?
- “So good! They get to play with the latest gadgets!” But are you seeing the process behind it?
- “I don’t have fantastic traffic to my blog. Can I be part of such campaigns?“
- Will this trend continue? My prediction for 2009.
Wow! That looks like a long list of questions and this post is going to take sometime to write. Time now is 1.03am on 29 Nov 2008. Let’s see when I’ll get this post up on my blog…
Why are bloggers being engaged by agencies/ brands?
Let’s say you saw an advertisement somewhere about a new handphone and you want to find out more about it. What do you do? If you’re reading this blog, I’ll dare say that you’ll probably google for the product and try to read what other users are saying about that product you’re eyeing. These can come from forum, their official site (which usually only has the good and not the bad points, hence you’ll probably not believe it 100%) and next will be websites or blogs with personal reviews of the product.
I did a goggle search for Lenovo S10, Samsung Innov8 and Samsung F480 and these are what I found…
So if you’re a potential customer who’s looking for reviews or details about the above product, its high chance that they’ll end up on my blog and read what I wrote about the product. This is just an example of a reason why bloggers outreach is now seen as essential form of marketing, PR or as customer service for brands.
The very first such event was for LG phone. It was a press event with journalists, editors and bloggers. Even today, many of the events I’ve attended as a blogger are for the mainstream press. Only a handful are targeted only on bloggers. I shared the differences between these two in my previous post on bloggers outreach.
So now, as more consumers are making use of the internet to find information and make purchase decision, it is important to have their products noticed and mentioned online. And bloggers (online publishers) become a targeted group of people to invite too. And with the growing trend of online content, many mainstream media are shifting their magazines online too. And some even had to shut down due to well, lack of readers.
In my opinion, a post online has a longer lifespan than an article in a hardcopy magazine or paper. Just ask yourself, how many times did you look for and flip back to an article in Digital Life? And how many times did you try searching for the product online before making a purchase decision? Yap! I rest my case for this first point.
“Why they’re invited but not me?” The social media problem.
The problem I see now is the way agencies/ brands are reaching out to bloggers. With millions of blogs online, and thousands of them from Singapore, it will take quite a while to manually find blogs that fits into your client’s/ brand’s need. And because of the lack of time to discover new blogs, they’ll start inviting bloggers whom they know, either through an online community, an event such as Social Media Breakfast or Podcamp Singapore, or from a list of personal friends who blogs. That’s one of the reason why you’ll see the same group of bloggers at almost every press events or blogger outreach events.
If you’re a blogger who puts up ads from the few blog advertising companies here, you’ll probably also be receiving emails with details of their latest events or campaigns which usually needs you to post an entry on your blog and get free tickets for a movie or party. These events are different from those I mentioned above. This, to me, is consider as a social event (where friends meet for fun) and usually not for a product launch or preview. In order to get a chance to be part of this, all you need to do is register with these blog advertising companies and do what they ask you to. But than again, if the number invites is limited, most probably the same few (active) bloggers of that community will get to go.
So now how? You’ve got a great blog with great content that no one is noticing (yet). How can your blog get noticed? But before you do that, you might want to ask if you’re ready for that. And are you really passionate enough to take on the social media “challenge”? (read on for this) If you’re really ready to be part of it, you’re always welcome to join in! Just take up part of your time to join in one of the Social Media Breakfast (next one might be in Dec08, check website for details) or attend community outings if there’s any. These are all open for everyone! Really! Don’t be shy, just come and get to know more bloggers. And at Social Media Breakfast, there are usually many friends from the agencies and brands too. So its a good time to introduce yourself and let them know how much you like or don’t like their brand/ product. If you’ve spare cash too, invest a little (only $24) on some namecards. It’ll surely come in useful. And here’s why!
What’s good about getting invited?
Hmmm… the good things to be involved in such campaigns…
- You can (usually) get to see the product even before it hits the stores.
- You get to touch, feel and try out the product at such events.
- You (most of the time) will be served with good food and sometimes even beer.
- You get to meet new friends (fellow bloggers).
- You get to tell the product marketing people how much you hate the camera you’re using and how they should change it. (Some of them really love to hear that from you, you know?)
- You (sometimes) get to bring home a prize or at least a goodie bag (usually with a folder with lots of paper in it).
I really hope they’ll start to use online tools such as flickr for sharing of product photos (instead of in a CD or thumbdrive) and send via email softcopy of press releases (help save more trees). We’re bloggers and we’ve got access to the internet almost 24-7.
What’s the bad that others don’t see?
So you’ve seen all the bloggers sharing about their experience at this event and that launches blah-blah-blah. Seriously, I’m getting tired of posting just that. If all the 15 bloggers invited talked about the event like writing a report of it, its kinda bored isn’t it? I used to do that too! But now I’ve found other ways to do it.
I feel that it is not just about the one post you write about the event that matters. Its also how much you help spread the words out and how you do it. Do you like it? What are the things that you don’t like about the event or product? What do you think could have been done better? I’m sure they want to know about that too.
Ok, now the list of bads that you might not see (yet)…
- If you’re invited to a press event, usually in the day, you’ll have to either reject it, or take half day leave to attend.
- If you’re attending a blogger event, be prepared to spend 2-3 hours on your own in the evening or during the weekends. (Nope! Usually you cannot bring a friend/partner along for such events. Unless they’re also a blogger.)
- If you’re lucky enough, you get to bring home a set of the product to try it out and than review it on your blog. So you play for it and than spends a day or so taking photos of the product and drafting out a review that you hope is good enough for your readers. (For me, such a post will take at least 3days to plan!)
- You get seen as a “stuck-up” blogger if you don’t interact with others at the event. (Rarely thou.)
- If one day you get so “addicted” about finding out the latest gadgets or products that you like, you’ll plan to find a job that gives you flexible working hours so that you get to attend press events in the day. (Ok! This is extreme. But hey! It happens! To me. LOL!)
“So good! They get to play with the latest gadgets!” But are you seeing the process behind it?
When I got invited to review a product for the first time, I was very excited! And I tried my best to do a review that will really help my readers get to know about that product. The way I approach it is to structure the review as if I’m sharing my experience with my friend. I want to show them how things work, hence I use videos to illustrate in my blog. I want to show them the various angles and buttons that I find useful, hence the much time spent taking nice photos for my review. And I want to share my entire (almost) experience with the product, hence I spend a long time drafting out the post.
If you’re as
crazy “on” as me, you’ll probably have to spend as much time or even more time preparing for that one post. Are you ready to do that?
Of course, I’m not saying that everyone has to have such a detail post for a single review unit. It all depends on how much you want to share and how much time and effort you want to put in. There are many reviews out there that’s only a few paragraphs of text with photos that you can find from the product’s official site. If that works for you, than your time spent is cut down a lot.
So when you’ve played with the product for let’s say 2 weeks, and than realized that you’re loving it. But when time comes, you’ve to return the product, you just feel so sad to part with it. Well, some companies do offer like a 20% or so discount for you if you want to buy one. NOPE! You don’t get to keep it! So please don’t ever think I own all those products which I’d reviewed in this blog okay! Cause I Don’T! So far, the only product I bought after using it and loving it too much is my sexy Samsung Innov8.
“I don’t have fantastic traffic to my blog. Can I be part of such campaigns?“
Seriously, my traffic is bad too. With just 300-400 of readers daily, and highest of only 1k+ in a day. That’s also why I still failed badly with earning from advertisement from any blog ad networks or google adsense. But traffic is not the main factor that is taken into consideration for purpose of PR/ Marketing/ Customer Service.
In my opinion, these are more important for the purpose of PR, Marketing and Customer Service…
- Your blog should not be hidden from search engines.
If your blog is not searchable, than its rather impossible for new users to discover your blog and its also impossible for anyone who’s searching for a keyword to land on your blog post. So if your blog is hiding from the search engines, its time to turn them on!
Here’s how to do it on the 2 commonly used platforms…
In wordpress platform
- A personal blog works too. But if your language is those that’s to-be-censored-type, you’ll probably be missed for such campaigns.
Just put yourself in their shoes, would you want your company or brand to be mentioned in a blog with lots of C-N-N-B, C-C-B, L-J and what not? Ermm… I wouldn’t.
- Neat and properly aligned blogs.
If your blog has misaligned sidebar, overflowing banners, text or jpeg, you might want to look into your stylesheet and html.
There should be more in this list, but I’m just kinda stuck with them right now. Will add on when any comes back to mind.
Will this trend continue? My prediction for 2009.
The net-savvy generation is growing, and these are the consumers in years to come. With increase of internet users, with broadband speeds going faster and price plan going cheaper, and the many attractive promotions (giving away netbooks, desktops and what not), more home will be connecting online soon. And this means more will be searching for things online, more will be starting to discover blogging, more will be spending more time online, more will probably be making their purchase decisions after searching online. So yes, the trend will grow. More companies will start wanting to reach out to online content publishers (i.e. bloggers, podcasters, vodcasters, publishers, community leaders, social network users and anyone who participates actively online).
But in order to make this space more comprehensive and interactive, many things can be done. Either through educating, sharing and/or building stronger and closer communities.
My idea of a perfect space for social media…
- more people are willing to open up and share their experiences.
- passionate publishers who love their interests/ hobby starts blogging and sharing more about them in details.
- publishers online take responsibility in their content and what they put out there.
- those who’re familiar with the various tools and methods to share or educate the population so that everyone will benefit and grow together.
- more publishers will take up an active role to grow and educate the population.
- population to unite and grow together instead of challenging one another and end up hurting friendship and whatever possible relationship that was built over time. I know how difficult this last point is. But it’ll sure help if everyone take a little effort to try.
Hope the community and population online will grow and prosper!
Woah! That’s sure a long post. Hope I’ve not bored you with my thoughts and sharing. If you find them useful, why not share it with your peers too? Isn’t this the way to spread learning and sharing?
All the above are my personal thoughts and my sharing based on my experience. I’m not suggesting that all bloggers or blogs should start going in the direction of wanting to be involve in blogger outreach or social media campaigns. All sharing above are for those who would like to start getting involved.
I believe in everyone’s own purpose and objectives for having content published online. And I know the needs for those who choose to remain unknown to the public and I respect that.