I have been planning to write on this topic for a while now but haven’t found the time until now.
Bloggers have power on the internet these days and gain credibility just from voicing their opinion. Look at mega stars like Perez Hilton who emerged from obscurity to take over Hollywood. Ok, so not everyone becomes famous, but most bloggers have a core audience and a strong topic focus. Super serious bloggers with a strong readership usually also have a twitter and facebook account to keep their readers informed. Personally, I don’t think my readers would want me updating them all the time so I don’t have those things associated with Marketing Nabbed at this point in time. However for review blogs, readers really do hang out to hear the next review on what Max Factor eyeshadow is the best or what store is having the best sale or what chocolate cookie tastes the best. Blogging really is about creating a community and sharing personal thoughts and opinions that interest others.
Marketing managers have discovered this new avenue to “advertising”, and I put “advertising” in quotes because that’s what asking a blogger to write a review really is, but readers don’t usually perceive it that way. I’ll touch on that later.
I work in the food industry and come across many blogs giving reviews, recipes and advice to a targeted audience. In my case I work for a small company with a very tight budget. It costs us money to send samples and it is very disheartening when a small or negative review is written. I understand that bloggers want to stay true to themselves and provide honest information to their readers, but sometimes it may be best not to write about a product if the blogger doesn’t like it rather than slam it.
I am constantly surprised by the number of bloggers who receive free product to try and review. Some bloggers even leave their career to become professional bloggers so there must be some serious cash in it for the successful ones. Hey, I mean if someone wanted to send me free stuff I’d be pretty happy with that, not that free products really apply to a blog about marketing.
So far at work I have a had some bloggers write a couple of tiny reviews, a fairly negative review and one wonderful glowing review (which strangely is from the same blogger who gave a different product of ours a very negative one). I am currently opposed to sending our products to bloggers for review due to my negative experiences but if I worked for a different company with a different set of products I would engage relevant bloggers. I sometimes find that bloggers in my industry are bias to some companies over others.
I find that in some cases bloggers are stay at home mums who are filling some time and just want some freebies. Unless the blog has some good readership, which is hard to get data on but you can generally check by the number of comments and post frequency, then it is not worth sending samples to them as the review will not be read by relevant customers.
There are lots of blogs popping up that are sponsored by various companies so there is a lot of cash for comment going down. Consumers love nothing more than hearing an honest opinion from a “normal” person so that is where bloggers gain a lot of favour and trust because readers don’t feel like they are being sold a product when reading a review. What they sometimes don’t realise is that those products have more than likely been sent to the blogger and in some cases they are being paid to write about it.
Due to this down to earth honest, enthusiastic point of view given by bloggers, it’s easy to see why companies want to send products for review. They are getting their products sold to consumers for basically the cost postage and the product. This could even prove more effective than a $4000 print ad in a magazine if it is a popular blogger…. and so long as a good review is posted. There is never a guarantee of that, but I do feel that a good review from a prominent blogger helps brand awareness and the “want” factor. Oh yeah marketing managers want to kiss some bloggers feet!
The latest thing I am noticing is that large companies are setting up seminars and lunches to schmooze with the bloggers and make them feel connected to the brand. The companies get the chance to preach their brand mission, identity, knowledge, hopes and goals through to the bloggers who then feel like brand ambassadors. Then, the blogger will feel more inclined to blog positively towards that brand who gave them nice tea, some scones and made them feel important. Making a blogger feel important is very important!
How to get bloggers to review your products or write about your company:
- If you have a product that you want a blogger to review or write about, simply just contact them.
- Be prepared to send them information, product samples and more importantly be prepared to perhaps receive a bad review or one that is not as informative as you would have liked. So you may want to casually mention to the blogger that if they do happen to have overly negative comments about your product that you would appreciate them not posting. However sometimes all publicity is good publicity.
- Send the blogger some professional product shots and brand logos incase they wish to use them. In most cases bloggers will take their own photos which actually builds the credibility of post and the “normal” “this is not an advertisement” feel of a blog.
- Let the bloggers run free with their creativity and personality because after all it is their blog.
- Don’t go overboard. Just send them a few of your best products, or newest releases.
- You could provide some product for the blogger to use as a prize. This will buy you favour with the blogger because that will help to boost their readership.
- Before you do any of this spend a few months tracking various blogs in your industry to find who is most prominent, professional and have a good community within their readership. Just like when placing an ad in a magazine you look for the circulation, readership, it’s relevance to your industry and customer base, do the same with bloggers and aim for the big wigs.
Tips from a marketing managers perspective if you are a blogger and you are writing reviews:
- Congratulations you must have a good blog and now have some responsibility to uphold the reputation of a brand.
- Marketing managers are really just wanting to connect to your readers (that you have done a fantastic job of gathering and communicating to) and get the message across about their wonderful products. Your blog may also feature highly on a Google search and bring in interested new consumers. Yay!
- Please maintain good communication with the company who has approached you with product to review.
- Be punctual with your review
- Promote the product with pictures and information. A good marketing manager would generally send you some product shots and some information that they may like you to touch on in your own point of view. However, it can sometimes be more realistic if you take your own photos and post them. Don’t do this if the product arrives a little worse for ware.
- Remember that you have been chosen in good faith that you will do the right thing by the company who asked you to review. Do not give a straight out negative review and slam the company or product by any means!!! DO NOT! If you do receive a product that you don’t enjoy then either a) don’t post about it, or b) find something that you like about it no matter how small an talk about that. Communicate with the marketing manager if you don’t like the product and don’t wish to post about it. The company has gone to the effort and expense to send you a sample so be respectful of that.
- Give your readership advice as to where to purchase the product if applicable
- Always link back to the companies website so your readers can learn more about that company and their other products that may be of interest to them
- Be super aware that there is a tool called Google Alerts which allows you to set alerts for certain topics (eg their brand name), so when that topic is mentioned on the internet ANYWHERE (forum, blog, website) an email gets sent with a link. So even if you are reviewing something off your own bat that nobody has asked you to review, the company you’re talking about will more than likely read your post.
Relevant wonderful articles on bloggers and review writing:
An article written by Gluten Free Fun, a Gluten Free blogger in America who recently attended a bloggers seminar hosted by large bread company Rudi’s and her experience.
An article written by Aussie fashion blogger Marlo Perry about her experience with blogging reviews and the recent PR/Bloggers conference she attended.
An interesting industry post by Julia Liberzon from Conversation Soup about how bloggers think, what companies want, how PR/Marketing agencies approach the subject.
Note to self: Start a blog about real estate so companies can give me free apartments and houses to review and live in…. I wish!