Posts Tagged ‘crowdsourcing

every person, tethered to their smartphone, is both a sensor and an end node… We’re entering a feedback economy… Companies that get themselves on a feedback footing will dominate their industries, building better things faster for less money. Those that don’t are already the walking dead, and will soon be little more than case studies and colorful anecdotes. Big data, new interfaces, and ubiquitous computing are tectonic shifts in the way we live and work

Alistair Croll

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

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

An interesting example of micro-activism on Twitter – this well-crafted tweet by Kevin Bergen struck me as follows:

  • Firstly, it’s an individual (not an organisation) with a modest following who is sharing a personal tragedy and using the platform to reach to other people on the basis that this issue (cancer) will affect most of us directly or indirectly in our lifetimes
  • By just asking for a re-tweet this means a very small amount of effort is required in exchange for his financial contribution
  • These re-tweets will mean everyone who sees them will think about the issue in terms of a human example. Because Kevin is an individual, not a charity or institution, this makes his request seem all the more human and authentic
  • But by specifically mentioning the cancer charity he will donate to (with a Twitter @reply), this lends his promise authenticity and puts it on public record with the charity itself – that he is intending to donate based on the Twitter response
  • It’s had over 300 re-tweets in the half a day since he posted it, even though Kevin currently only has 365 followers

Nike’s been impressing far and wide lately with its social media efforts. It’s simple but fantastically engaging Facebook Superfly campaign has done so well they’ve moved it off into it’s own Facebook page.

What stands out for me with the TAKEMOKUM Nike+ graffiti challenge campaign is the relatively small number of super-engaged community members (< 10k) that were engaged to meet the campaign objective – smashing through the notion that for many young people, running is boring.

This helps us to see how niche is indeed the new black and social media success does not have to mean astronomical numbers of ‘likes’ – but rather sweating the small stuff to develop the right concept to enthuse a super-engaged group.

image above via Amsterdam AdBlog

Vitamin Water has been trailblazing on Facebook for years, including crowdsourcing an entirely new flavor back in 2009. Today, they have over 2.3 million fans with frequent posts featuring pictures, videos, events and links. Most importantly, they are responsive to fan questions and inquiries, breeding loyalty even when their answers aren’t exactly what customers want to hear

Dave Kerpen

We are democratising an age-old model for raising business finance by empowering the ‘crowd’ to pool small amounts of investment money and give Britain’s start-ups a much needed boost

Darren Westlake

This blog is about utilizing and optimizing the social web for business, pleasure and social change

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