Blogs are influencing purchase decisions and recommendations more than ever. According to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report, 38% of bloggers talk about brands positively and negatively on their blogs, and 34% write product, service, and brand reviews. This is happening more and more because consumers trust each other a lot more than they trust advertisers messages but let’s also remember that people are not going to seek Bloggers advice on every product.
Bloggers are influencing each other a lot more than they were just a year ago. In 2010, 29% of bloggers claimed to be influenced by the blogs they read, but in 2011, that percentage jumped to 68%. Unfortunately, the 2011 State of the Blogosphere report provides some unfavorable information related to how brands interact with bloggers. Despite the broad reach and influence that bloggers have, only 1 in 2 feel that their interactions with brands are favorable.
17% indicated that brand representatives have asked bloggers to publish something or do something that would compromise the blogger’s credibility or the blog’s content standards.
Only 14% said that brand representatives are knowledgeable about the blog, its content, and its audience.
Just 16% said that brand representatives are actually interested in building relationships with them.
Amazingly, only 23% of brand representatives provide information that has value for a blogger’s readers.
Why does this happen? Well, first it’s hard to tell which Bloggers are really influential and which ones are out to make money or get free product. I was recently contacted, for example, by a blogger who claimed to have an audience of almost 8 million people. However, when I dug further I found that a couple of “social media experts” were on the advisory board and that their true reach and influence was actually a lot less than 8 million people. In short, they were out to make money by using numbers to convince marketers who easily bought into their BS.
So how do you decide if Bloggers can help your brand? Ask these questions..
1ne Is the target market I am going after active on social media and do they read Blogs? If the answer to this is yes, then getting Bloggers to write about your product can be a great way to spread word of mouth and it’s more cost effective than national advertising.
2wo. Do you have enough product samples to send to Bloggers and do you believe your product is good enough to perform up to their expectations? The best way to influence Bloggers is to send them samples for your product not coupons. However, there is a risk. If your product does not meet their expectations you have to be ready for them to say so to others who read their Blog and it could result in negative product/brand reviews.
3hree. It takes time to establish a relationship with Bloggers. Don’t expect to shoot them an eMail, send them product and expect them to tell the world. You need to establish a relationship with them to let them know what your product and brand is all about and you have to allow them time to use the product and review it. You also need someone to stay in contact with Bloggers to answer any questions/concerns they might have about the product as they use it. Above all, remember it takes time to establish trust via any relationship and consistency of action through engagement.
I personally believe that establishing a relationship can provide a positive ROI, but it takes time and effort, even more time and effort than being a social media community manager. There are tools out there that can help you identify key influencers, but frankly, I believe that things like a Klout score don’t tell you the real story. You can best identify the key bloggers by listening and watching who your target audience interacts with and who they talk about.