Mariamz

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

Aside

Posted on: February 4, 2013

[I am just testing out the WordPress ‘aside’ format] – To say that whereas journalists have traditionally been paid by revenues which come through advertising (by their institution) – newer purveyors of news and opinion: bloggers, and other social media stars in their own right, can earn money from publishing on an individual basis. Personally organising their own advertising or sponsorship to appear on their blogs or other social channels. They hope or even expect to be paid in exchange for covering stories from brands, and why shouldn’t they? OFT rules on this are clear – it is prohibited to use editorial content to promote a product, where the trader has paid for the promotion, without making that clear in the content. Disclosure is key.

As an aside: individual publishers deserve paying too

Bloggers and sites need revenue to survive… so sponsored content and links are a norm we have become used to. Most web users understand and appreciate its place to help support the content and engagement they love… they grasp that flexible online business models are integral to quality and innovation. But the key from a publisher’s perspective and any brand placing content – is disclosure. iVillage is currently doing this in a neat way on its home page – highlighting, and tactfully disclosing content on its site that provides a revenue stream via sponsorship:

For formal guidance on staying within the law when sponsoring content or bloggers online, follow the links below:

The relationship between bloggers, marketers and brands still attracts controversy. In my view the social web provides unprecedented opportunity for citizens, consumers, professionals and politicians to tell one another what they want and need. Making it possible for products, services, governments and social systems to be more efficient, representative and fit for purpose.

If this view of personal, public and private information exchange is taken – accepting advertising, reviewing products or participating in brand partnerships does not means a blogger is ‘selling out.’

Rather such interactions are progressive ones – for releasing the social world (via bloggers and their commenters) into our products means positive, pro-social innovation. Bringing us full circle to the days when local producers had direct daily interaction with consumers and could easily adapt commercial goods to their desires.

Once past the idea that brand-blogger engagement is inherently insidious – marketers must operate with full consideration that they are facilitating the meeting of very different interests and motivations. The more thought, care and consideration brand representatives put in, the better results will be. GIGO. So here are some practical dos and don’ts to help guide the activity:

  1. DO – go beyond the A-List – don’t assume everyone is obsessed with the top five blogs. And  consider niches in relation to the topic / product you are covering. The long tail of blogging means you can find dedicated bloggers on everything down to garden sheds and ovens.
  2. DO – enough research so that you can personalize your pitch to each blogger you are contacting – know them, their writing, if they have written about similar products or services before
  3. DO – put thought, consideration into the initial approach – is it an email, or can you treat bloggers like VIPs – e.g. send them luxury invitations instead of an email
  4. DO – make sure learnings about each blogger are kept as accessible notes (e.g. in a database / spreadsheet with their contact details) to help you and other members of your project team understand them and the history of the relationship. For example, do they prefer a phone conversation to electronic communication?
  5. DO – see if you can engage bloggers on other social platforms like Twitter – as innocent did with their recent Twitter parties for parents to share tips and ideas for lunchboxes – resulting in a 140 tips in 140 characters (PDF) booklet
  6. DO – ask them what they want – and see if you can make it happen, like Three UK did for its Mums on the Go app development activity (Three was my client at the time of this event)
  7. DO – consider the world of engagement opportunities beyond a static pitch / press release. For example product drops, meetup events, working with bloggers to crowdsource product innovations, private blogger networks like the one set up by NEXT in the UK
  8. DO – respect bloggers’ rights to give honest opinions about your product or service. In their bloggers network NEXT state clearly that they are giving bloggers a forum share their ‘honest opinion’
  9. DO – offer unique items or content to each blogger if you can to show you really value their personal contribution
  10. DO – consider paying them. They are likely to have no income to specifically support their blogging. But bear in mind that paid-for activity must meet social media advertising guidelines (these are for the UK) – e.g. full disclosure on the post about who it is sponsored by. (Sofia’s journal is a nice example of disclosure about paid activity)
  11. DO – provide as many relevant information points and media assets to the blogger as possible. This need not mean a huge long pitch email if you link out to explainers, pictures, apps, video and audio files
  12. DO – say thank you when a blogger has covered your item
  13. DO – keep them warm in between pitches / major activity – i.e. keep up the contact, interact on Twitter, etc.
  14. DO – have a proof-reader for your pitch emails. However well you write everyone words things badly sometimes (that’s why newspapers have sub-editors) – ensure every pitch is given the twice-over
  15. DO – read resulting blog posts and their comments, including positive and negative opinions, carefully and feedback insight to the brand
  16. DON’T send arsey emails to bloggers who are annoyed with you. Be polite and move on
  17. DON’T – Spam lists of bloggers with press releases over and over again when you have had zero engagement with them. You will NEVER win over some bloggers, so if they don’t respond the first or second time you try – take them off your list
  18. DON’T assume bloggers are as impressed by celebrities as you, or the journalists you are used to dealing with, are. Blogging has arisen from a culture of equality – so pictures of celebrities holding products might not go down well
  19. DON’T  – waste a word in your pitch. Brevity is key, don’t fluff it out (kinda ironic for the length of this post I know)
  20. DON’T – secure a blog post and let it disappear into oblivion. Share each appropriate blog post on your Twitter, Facebook, member newsletter, internal corporate social media round-up, even on your advertising.  Integration is key to build relationships for the future and make the most of the unique, authentic, brand-relevant content your engagement campaign has reaped

WordPress buttons image from Nikolay Bachiyski

Influence is a word thrown around like confetti these days. Yet just as there is no homogeneous audience in a social media world, there is no homogeneous influencer.

So those launching social PR or marketing initiatives need to know more – precisely who is influential about what, to whom, and in what context?

However, faced with shiny new topic, a place to start is needed.

To find and prioritize who, of millions of bloggers, to begin to engaging with, follow these steps:

  1. Find relevant bloggers (Try Google Blog Search, Blog lists in the category, these social media tools, Followerwonk to search Twitter and then check the blog rolls of good ones)
  2. Record for each blogger: Awards / List membership, Google Page Rank, Twitter Followers, Klout and PeerIndex (Bear in mind there is ongoing debate about how reliable a measure Klout and PeerIndex are, but they can at least serve as a comparative indicator)
  3. Prioritize based on the overall picture (Make notes and don’t rely on one measure alone. If there is time and the blog is very active, you could make more in-depth ethnographic observations on participation occuring)
  4. After launching the campaign measure referrals back to your target URL – to ascertain which blogs are bringing most traffic /are most goal-achieving

More on brand engagement with bloggers from Eric Schwartzman, including stats from the 2011 Technorati bloggers survey:

Digital confetti image by Frankief

We established a conversation with our readers on Facebook, using our page there to respond to queries about riots in peoples’ local areas. Our Twitter feed was pushing out shortened versions of the liveblog updates, with regular links to the liveblog page. In quieter periods we also published our Twitter username and asked for tip-offs to be directed at that, which worked well. Surprisingly, we also received a large volume of tip-offs through the email contact form on our website; you don’t really think of email as being a form of social media but clearly it has its place

Gaz Corfield via Rachel McAthy

Charities are in the business of benevolence, but that doesn’t mean they’re great at storytelling. There is a tendency to think that everyone’s perspective on, and interactions with, a cause are the same. This is patently untrue. In fact, the different angles of a cause hold real possibility if they’re brought to light

Jackson Wightman

I’ve used Google Reader many times to create bundles of blogs for monitoring and outreach in line with topic interest areas. The beauty of it is once you have compiled a hard-hitting list of blog RSS feeds you can share them as a bundle with others on your team… without them even needing to know what RSS is. This also makes it particularly easy to hand over when moving on to the next project.

The tool is also very useful to integrate different bloggers’ material into sites from an editorial perspective – when I set up the Guardian Global Development blogosphere the display of external blogs was run via Google Reader. The highlighting of specific blogposts on the back-end was achieved via an editor or community co-ordinator simply starring posts from Reader’s blog-post view – again, making for a simple content management user experience.

So I thought it worth highlighting what Michael Tieso has done with his list of 160 independent travel bloggers – because it’s not often you see someone being as generous with their efforts identifying good blogs. He has used Google reader’s capacity to share blog bundles publicly – compiling a list of over 160 independent travel bloggers for anyone to subscribe to.

You can find the travel bloggers bundle and subscribe to it here (you will need a Google account to use reader). For those of you new to reader – doing this means all the latest posts from those travel bloggers will appear in your reader from now on. You will also be able to search within that specific bundle in your Google reader for items of interest. Michael Tieso can be found @artofbackpackin on Twitter.

Sea life picture from My Itchy Travel Feet


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