Tag Archives: marketing

How to reach out to bloggers – 6 top tips for blogger engagement

13 Mar

I am a blogger and I am a marketing manager who does a degree of blogger outreach and engagement in my role.

On top of this blog, I write a beauty blog as a hobby. I receive samples and invitations from PR companies and brands themselves to review their products and do product give away competitions on their behalf.

There are a few things that I have noticed from working with PR companies and brands that I would like to share with you to help you improve your blogger outreach if that is something you are pursuing as a form of advertising and influencer relationship building in your role.

1. Research:

Research your bloggers. See what other posts they are writing and if they tend to give negative or positive reviews. Some bloggers are kinder than others and some like to get a bit hoity-toity and say mean things about the product just because they can. Personally I won’t give a review on a product that I don’t like. I like to give positive reviews only because from a marketing managers view point, I know how uncool it is to have a blogger say bad things about your product where everyone can see on the internet after you have spent a lot of time and money to provide them with information and samples. Make sure the blogger meets your brands values eg: keep away from bloggers who identify as pole dancers or swear a lot if your brand is a “family brand”.

2. Blogger kits:

To help you to find a blogger that is going to do a good job of representing your company and so you get more bang for your buck, contact the bloggers you are interested in and request their media kit. Most bloggers kits will give you readership stats, info on the editor, advertising opportunities, if they expect compensation and more information on who their blog targets. Bigger bloggers who have more followers and reach will probably ask for a relatively big fee but it might be worth it for your brand if you know that they are definitely speaking to your target market.

3. Communication:

Some companies communicate better than others. It is very important for companies to be polite, respectful and patient with bloggers. Communicating your intentions from the get go is important so the blogger is ready to deliver what you want from them. If you are going to be paying them or providing samples make that known. Remember that most bloggers are doing it as a hobby and have day jobs and families to take care of so make your communication informative so as to avoid multiple emails.

As a blogger I feel it is my duty to reply to companies in a timely and professional manner as they are doing their job to engage me. Some bloggers will request payment for a post or at least some form of product compensation and it’s nice to be respected for your time and effort with a thank you.

In one case I was asked to run a competition for a company. This is quite a lot of work and I was provided with written information on the products but nothing else. I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to run this competition without at least receiving the samples myself to know what I was reviewing and also as some form of thank you for the time I put behind promoting their products for them. I asked for the samples to be sent to me and the company provided these to me… although they did seem a bit ticked off which I didn’t think was very professional. When I had drawn the winner the company didn’t even bother to thank me for taking the time to run and promote the competition which I felt was highly disrespectful. All it would have taken is a short email with a sincere thank you.

Don’t be precious about their posts. Let them do their thing and thank them for the post once it is written (they should provide you with a link).

4. Blogger product samples/events:

Some companies have the most beautiful, well thought out packages. I have been sent boxes of products with printed postcard notes and a special little treat of lollies or a little bag to go with the samples to review. It is so special when a PR company goes to the trouble to make your samples that little bit more special than normal. It’s so exciting to receive a parcel in the mail and when they are presented beautifully it automatically makes me want to do a really good job for the company.

If you are hosing a blogger brunch or some form of event make it happen during after office hours. I receive invitations to what seem like beautiful glamorous luncheons but I can’t go because I have to work! I suppose that hosting an event during the day will weed out a number of bloggers so that you have a more concentrated group of attendees… but in my opinion hosting it after hours is better and will get you a great coverage. Also make lots of photo opportunities at the event. Bloggers are stuck to their cameras! Pretty boxes and bags with your company names on them, easy to see demonstrations, celebrity card board cut outs that they can take photos next to  (if you have a celebrity endorser perhaps), beautiful table decorations, pretty food like cupcakes that can be photographed, photo opportunity branded screens (you know like celebrities have photos in front of at events?) bloggers LOVE those.

4. Product information:

Provide your bloggers with as much information as you can. The more information you provide, the more information the bloggers can lean on to write a great post about your product. Ingredients, points of difference, where it can be purchased, price, website for more information, twitter handle, facebook links and so on. Make sure you remind them to please post the links to your social media platforms and website in their post.

6. Special feelings:

Yes, bloggers are all about special feelings. If you make them feel special and valued they are more likely to do a good job for you and mention you again in future. Little special goodies in their sample boxes, special events etc all help get the message about your brand across. Be generous! Don’t be crazy about it, but so many brands are very very generous with samples and thank you gifts.

 

What tips do you have for successful blogger engagement?

Social Media pro fun and what is the future of social media

9 Feb

Recently I’ve come across a few funny social media virals on the inter webs. As a social media coordinator myself, I find these funny and I’m sure you will too!

I'm fairly sure this is how most people who comment on social media brand pages think.


It got me thinking, less than a decade ago my job didn’t exist. I mean, marketing existed, but the social media side didn’t. Not to the degree of today. The internet died for about 2 hours at work today and I was besides myself. I span in my rolly chair and moaned that I couldn’t do my jobbbb waaaaa waaaaaaaaa much like you see in that youtube video. I made a phone call to our account manager who was trying to send me some critical information “Hello this is a phone call from 1992 where the internet hasn’t been invented yet. Can you hear me me me me, im time travelling-ing-ing”. Yeah I thought that was pretty funny.

Marketing used to be quite one sided and brands told you what they wanted you to know and to think. We are pretty lucky in this day and age as marketers to be exploring this whole new world of engaging with consumers and people who use your product and are willing to connect with you and share their ideas *cough* EvenIfSomeOfTheirIdeasAreVeryUnreasonable *cough*

We are kind of at a turning point right now. Sort of like when Television started to grow in popularity and people were buying them as soon as they could afford to and stations were figuring out how to create content that people would like. New types of shows and genres developed and rules and tips were created along the way. Then 1999 hit and reality TV was created and the sanctity of television slowly died.

Social media is evolving and changing so rapidly. Sharing is the key to getting the best out of social media at this point in time.

Pintrest is the latest social media platform that encourages sharing of images (cool images) between people you know and people you don’t know. Twitter has retweets and Facebook has the share button which is starting to be widely used.

If you are running a brand social media page right now the best thing to do is post photos that make people want to share your content. Cute photos, funny sayings, cats…. people want to share that with friends and then with their friends and then their friends and round and round your brand name goes. Remember that is all virtually free advertising! High 5 sharing!

Quirky is also key. Being slightly off the cuff, funny and delighting really drives engagement particularly is that is not the normal style of your brand. It really endears people towards you.

Since social media is changing so fast there are no social media experts. Really, every 16 year old girl probably knows as much about social media as I do, I just do it for my living. Heck, when I was at university 4 years or so ago there was no mention of social media. My friend who is at university currently is hardly learning about it and is in fact trying to help write a syllabus about it.

As with everything, eventually people will become cynical about the very things they currently embrace. I am super excited to watch, from my front seat view, how social media will evolve and change in the coming years.

What do you think the future of social media holds?

QR codes use in marketing

8 Oct

QR codes (Quick Reference codes) are becoming more commonly used for marketing purposes.

What are QR codes you ask?

Well QR codes are kind of like a barcode that when scanned with a QR code scanning app on a smart phone will take you direct to a website.

How can I create my own QR code for free?

There are plenty of websites around that can generate a code for you. Here is one called QRSTUFF.

How would you use a QR code?

I have recently seen some interesting examples of the use of the codes:

Business Cards –  These ones are from some Beauty Bloggers. Obviously as a blogger your website is the place that shows off who you are and your personal brand so the QR code is particularly useful in this instance

Expo Bags: Royal and Langnickel are an American company who make make up brushes. They are trying to break into the Australian market and recently attended the Sydney IMATS expo. They are particularly good adopters of QR codes. QR Codes on bags at an expo from Royal and Langnickel make up brushes

How To videos for a product: Each one of Royal and Langnickels brushes has their own QR codes on the packaging. When scanned the code directs you to a video that shows you handy tips on how to use the exact brush you just purchased. Clever!

Competition entry: Again another Royal and Langnickel example. At the expo they had this code up that could be scanned so you could quickly enter their competition. It took you directly to an entry form and made it so simple.

Stickers: Sportsgirl is an Australian young womens fashion chain. They have jumped full force into QR codes this season. This table in the store features QR code stickers that you can take. I assume they would like you to take them and stick them around town on signs, bins, walls etc.

Fashion clothing price tag label: Another Sportsgirl QR code. This time on a limited edition designer outfit.

Signs in store: Sportsgirl in their stores also have signs advertising their limited edition team up with the Antipodium brand.

 

Special Offers and discounts: Lorna Jane is a sportswear store who are placing QR codes on the windows of their stores to provide special offers to customers. They have made a QR code guide for customers on their website. Probably a smart move because most people don’t know what QR codes at this point in time and what makes it more difficult is that iPhones do not have a QR scanner as standard so you have to know to download an app.

 

Reveals: QR codes play a cheeky role in this Victorias Secret campaign which is probably the best use of QR codes that I have seen. I must admit there aren’t a lot of QR codes around at this point in time. I mean, who wouldn’t want to scan that code to see what the lady wants to show you. Men AND women will want to see.


Online Shopping: Watch this video about Tesco supermarket and it’s online shopping arm in Korea. AMAZING. It explains itself and the power of QR codes.

 

Fancy branded QR codes: Louis Vuitton and Disney have created fancy QR codes which allows them to keep up branding and works with a scanner.


So there you have it. QR Codes can be powerful however there are some people who don’t see the point as it’s practically the same as giving someone your website address. QR codes have a variety of uses but at this point in time most people would scan them out of curiosity to see what the link takes you to. The future could hold big things for this new technology.

Note to self: Make my own QR code and stick it on a business card like the other cool kids.

Competitions are costly!

20 Sep

Yes, they sure are!

When you run a competition you may think “oh I have a nice prize to give away that will help with my marketing. I’ll be nice and start a competition that will only cost me my time and the prize and will boost my brand share and followers”. Well, you live in an idealistic world don’t you… and I did to until recently when I began to understand just how costly and involved competitions are.

Competitions are a nice way to help bring attention to your brand I think. Just make sure they are run properly.

Things you must consider when running a competition

  1. The prize
  2. Legal guidelines, terms and conditions, permits
  3. Form creation
  4. Advertising
  5. The winners


The Prize
Lets say you have $20,000 to give away as a prize. Good job to you for having such a nice budget to play with number one. Number two; well I hope you have more money than that to create the rest of the competition.

Legal guidelines, terms and conditions, permits
Unless you work in a big company you wont have a legal counsel at your disposal. You’re going to need one to create your terms and conditions and cover your brands butt if something goes wrong. There are lots of marketing consultancy firms that can create the terms and conditions and apply for permits for you.

Permits are another thing. If your competition is a random draw then you are going to need a permit in most states over a certain prize threshold. So if you are running your competition Australia wide you are up for a few thousand dollars in permit fees.

If your competition is a game of skill then you don’t need a permit if your prize is under a certain value. This can be as simple as asking entrants to answer a question that can be judged. Your terms and conditions must state the judging critera (eg: Q: If you owned a theme park what ride would you create? The answer with the most creativity and sounds fun will be judged as the winner by the panel). Games of skill mean that you may have to browse through thousands of entries to find “the best” answer.

*Please check with your legal advisor before following this guide. This guideline is a few years old and may no longer apply.

*Please check with your legal advisor before following this guide. This guideline is a few years old and may no longer apply.

Form Creation
If you are running a Facebook competition the Facebook guidelines state that you must create an application to handle entries. Thus you technically aren’t supposed to have people posting on your wall with answers. This means that you could be up for $10,000 having a professionally branded Facebook application created for your competition.

Twitter re-tweet competitions are also not as simple as they seem. To draw a winner from a follow and hit retweet style draw you need a permit as that is classed as a random draw. You will need to put a link to some terms and conditions in the tweet so people can read about it too. If you ask someone to re-tweet and then answer a skilful question such as (which one of our products is your favourite and why) then you wont need to buy a permit but you will still need to have terms and conditions made to state how you are judging the competition, how the winners will notified, when they will be drawn etc. A re-tweet competition is also a good way to build twitter followers.

If you are running an online competition you will still need to create professionally branded graphics and perhaps purchase a URL that matches the branding and so people can find it. You get the picture… more money.

Advertising
So you have put all of this money and effort into just wanting to give something away and now you need to advertise to let everyone know that you have a great competition. Gotta get that return on investment! So, add on more money to your budget to maybe run Facebook ads, flyers and other forms of advertising communication. Cross your fingers that you get lots of entries and lots of people learning more about your brand and it’s offerings.

The Winners
You want an honest person who is revved up about your brand, or in your target market to win your competition don’t you? Well, I’ve got news for you. There are people out there who are professional competition entrants. They spend their days trolling the internet looking for competitions to enter just for the thrill of winning and making some money from it potentially. It’s legal, people can do that with their time if they want. But as a marketer I get a bit upset when I see all of my hard work and budget falling into the hands of a professional. I suppose that so long as the competition mechanism drew new brand advocates to your brand then it did its job in the long term…. but you get my point.

And there you have it. As great as competitions can be for your brand, you need to make sure that you can achieve a good return on investment for their cost.
Note to self: Do as many game of skill competitions as possible with a highly valued prize….. which should advertise itself through word of mouth and lower the costs…. maybe.

This is a rough guide of how I see competitions. I may or may not have the details of permits or legal details correct so please consult your legal team and lottery officials. I am not a lawyer or a lottery official.

Gamification. How can games build your sales

4 Aug

Mc Donalds on Farmville

We all love to play computer games… well I know I do, so what happens when a company makes a game that helps you to remember their brand and makes you feel favourably towards them? This is happening a lot these days.

In around 2003 I was really into the clothing and lifestyle brand Emily The Strange. On their website was a really cool game called Homework hex and I would play it all the time. It’s kind of like checkers. That was the beginning of associating game content with a brand.

These days companies integrate games onto social networking site such as Facebook to encourage users to invite friends to play which increases Facebook fans for the brand and of course grows the brand salience.

Farmville is a cult favourite game on Facebook and Lady Gaga took it over a few months ago with her own areas of the game. McDonalds has also had a virtual presence in Farmville. With over 70 million active Farmville users (that stat sounds crazy high to me) this is a big marketing coup to capture the types of people that I imagine would play Farmville.

Real estate company Century 21 here in Australia has just launched an innovative new game where users are given $1 million to buy and sell real estate in a virtual neighbourhood to become a property mogul. CLICK HERE TO PLAY. It fuses the online world with the real world in a very clever way. When you log your postcode you are helped along in the game by your very own local real estate agent who is in avatar form… but is actually based on the real person. It also integrates properties that are on the market right now and you gain badges for achievements. If you visit a Century 21 open inspection and speak to an agent you can gain extra points for the game. Players can also entice their friends to start playing too.

I think this game would appeal more to women, probably because its kind of like The Sims and I know how much I like The Sims!

I think this is an incredibly smart social media marketing strategy and idea for Century 21 in a growing real estate market where new companies seem to be springing up over night. This game creates good will and a like factor that would encourage players to contact Century 21 and their virtual/real life agent if they needed to buy or sell a house. That’s what real estate is all about right? Creating relationships and trust with vendors so that the real estate agent can make some money! Century 21 hasn’t done a lot of advertising of their brand as far as I am aware and this is a modern and innovative step.

Good job Century 21!

Have you ever been sold to through gamification channels?

Marketing America

4 Jul

Have you noticed the growing number of ad’s advertising American travel destinations recently? Well, ok there are two that I have seen.. but that’s a heck of a lot more than I have ever seen in my life time on Aussie TV.

  • Disneyland
  • California State
With the American dollar being so darn low, America is finally becoming an affordable travel destination for Australians who never before imagined being able to afford travel to “the greatest nation in the world” (as all American’s believe). I remember asking my parents to take me to Disneyland when I was a kid and being told in no uncertain terms that they would never be taking me to Disneyland because America is very expensive.

Well, seems like kids these days may have more of a chance than I did. Thanks failing American economy! What kid isn’t going to harass their family to take them to Disneyland now? I’m guessing that modern kids probably don’t even know who Mickey and Minnie are so this campaign is building the young ones knowledge of the traditional brand too.

Tonight I noticed an ad for the state of California based around Prince William and Kates visit. It states that they are only visiting the state for 3 days so how are they going to see all the best parts?


So good one America for seeing us as a cashed up nation of people that you want to get chummy with. I love America, I lived there for a year so I’m pretty darn happy that the dollar is so low…. just a shame I won’t be able to go back there for a while. Thank God for online shopping if I need some mega cheap clothes, make up or just about anything.

Note to self: Perhaps buy a bunch of USA Dollars while they are dirt cheap and hang on to them for a rainy day in many years time when they may actually be worth something again.

Social Media – How to deal with complaints and negative feedback.

5 Jun

I love social media. My high school teachers would get mad at me for spending copious amounts of time checking my emails, reading webpages, building useless geocities/gurlpages websites (early 2000’s people) and generally racking up more internet usage than the schools system network administrator. Hey, thanks school! I actually taught myself things during those periods of boring classes, even though by the end of my time at school it was difficult to search many key words because my diligent searching of certain topics got them banned. Good luck writing an essay on Hanson everyone! haha.

Anyway i’m getting off topic. So when I moved to America in 2006 for university everyone was talking about Facebook. My roommates forced me to sign up to it in my first night with them because apparently I couldn’t function at an American college without a Facebook page. At this stage nobody in Australia had a Facebook page because it was restricted to college students only. What a different world it was.

So blast forward to now, 2011. What the heck has happened? Every man and his grandma and local chicken shop is doing this social media thing. Social Media is a critical part of a brands identity.

We are all so well connected, and in some cases actually entertained by social media campaigns. That is a whole other topic and today I’ll just focus on the scary part of social media. COMPLAINTS. Very public airing of the horrors of customers annoyance.

The key to responding professionally to complaints made on social media is to:

  • Turn negatives into positives to build loyalty and customer satisfaction
  • Always be transparent and reply with an empathetic, caring comment.
  • Never ignore a comment.
  • Never give an angry tone in your response.
  • Always show that you are working to improve the situation.
  • Ask the person complaining to contact you directly through email or phone so that you can sort out deep issues privately and address them personally.

So what do you do when a customer visits your companies Facebook page and leaves a comment with such venom that every single person visiting your page can see and may put them off your company. Panic? Yes good answer but don’t. Social media encourages users to participate in conversation whether it be good or bad. How do we deal with a bad comment?

Well it depends on the comment. Feedback can either be negative feedback or constructive criticism. It is important to reply to the complaint in a positive manner and thank the customer for their ideas if it is constructive criticism. If it is negative feedback eg: faulty product, bad service, reply to the customer and thank them for bringing this issue to your attention and that you will look into how to deal with it. Try and understand the customer and make them feel listened to and understood.

One of the most important parts of social media is to be transparent. Social media is all about personal service and a face for the company.

It is important to reply to comments as quickly as possible. The worst thing to do is leave it a few days as others will then see this comment and word travels in social media. Being positive and constructive in response to a negative comment can work to create positive experiences for the people who complained. A well handled complaint can result in a person feeling a deep connection and respect for a company. Even those who have not complained but have seen the conversation being resolved will feel respect for the company.

I recently saw a good case of this on a Facebook page where a customer commented that they received their order with some wrong products in it. The customer service person responded and apologised for the inconvenience, asked them to contact their personal email account to sort out the finer details out of the watchful eye of the social media space and then commented “can anyone think of any recipes for Kathy to make use of this excess butter and milk”. PERFECT! I saw another one on a different site complaining about delivery timing issues. The service person responded and asked them to contact their personal email to discuss the problem in more detail, and to probably offer them some form of compensation.

Most customers just want to know that they have been heard in most cases of constructive criticism. Those that give constructive criticism obviously care enough about your brand to have taken the time to contact you so again, be positive and thankful.

Ignoring and deleting comments is a no no generally. Social media is like a giant conversation. If the person called you on the phone or was standing in front of you making a complaint you would not ignore them, you would respond to them. Social media is no different. Deleting a comment should only occur in extreme cases such as bullying, rude language and so on.

So remember to embrace complaints even though they probably hurt your feelings. You can do something to turn this bad experience around and turn it into a good experience that will be appreciated!

Just for a funny example of how social media can turn on you. (sourced from lamebook.com)

Note to self: Send direct emails to the company if I ever have a complaint so as not to air dirty laundry through social media.

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