Bloggers As Evangelists

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You are going to be reading a lot of Blogs in the next little while where the Blogger is either being paid or given free product to shill some wares in their own personal space.

That’s one of the big things that happens when a big interactive conference like SXSW takes place. In fact, Media Hacks co-host, author of both Trust Agents (along with Julien Smith) and Social Media 101 business books, and all-around good guy, Chris Brogan, just posted, Nikon Just Let Me Use a New Camera, to his Blog. It’s interesting to read his perspective on Blogger outreach…

"First, I’m telling you, ‘Hey, look! Nikon wants you to see me making their camera take fuzzy shots because I’m not a good photographer, but darn it – they like me!’ Second, I’m saying, ‘as marketers, take a look at this kind of outreach and ask yourself what’s the yield. Believe me, if I somehow magically convince you that even I can use this camera, which is possible maybe, then how many will I be selling?"

Remember, it’s not about "how many" people you put your message in front of, it’s about "who" you put your message in front of.

Brands need to spend more time understanding the community they serve. Blogs are not a mass media channel. Even the most popular Blogs are really just big niches. Trying to pump a camera (or any product/service) into the hands of a Blogger simply because they have a significant audience is not going to have even close to the same effect as it would if you were to choose a handful of Bloggers with significantly smaller audiences, but who would actually have an appreciation and interest in what your brand is all about. This is also not a case of calling out Nikon for a lack of understanding when it comes to Social Media marketing (full disclosure: Fujifilm is an active client of Twist Image and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would question the quality of Nikon cameras or their marketing).

It’s about the smaller (not bigger) picture.

Marketing needs to think small (and, while I’m on this kick of pimping Seth Godin books – see yesterday’s post: Boring Brands – check out Small Is The New Big). Social Media marketing (and Blogger outreach, in particular) is only going to yield results when a brand can figure out who the real key voices are in Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc… and manages to connect with them, add value to their community and help the overall community be more engaged.

Everything else is just traditional mass media advertising using new channels and platforms (you know, the same kind of stuff that the average consumer attempts to avoid at all costs).


  1. That is completely true. Sometimes, even the volume of the audience is not exactly a deal breaker. Bloggers can have really small audiences, but those audiences could be movers and shakers of bigger ones. I once lead a project where we spent 3 months doing blogger outreach, the result yield huge results because we took the time to understand who the bloggers were writing too and who was listening to them. Some of these bloggers didn’t have huge audiences, but they had people who were really vested in the topic. Having them review the product lead to higher distribution of our product – in fact 400% higher than any product released previously. The pay off is greater when you listen well.

  2. Mitch, personally, as a long-time ad guy I think advertising is a good thing. Duh!
    As for blog-ads… as long as the person is transparent about it I have no issue.
    Online the one-to-one and one-to-few model is a great precision tool for business. I think I get that part – as the President of the Direct Marketing Association of Toronto I’d better get that part!
    If I make reference here to The Cluetrain you will yell at me, so I won’t! (Whispers … this stuff is all in da book.) LOL
    The ‘it’s about small’ is, and always has been, the truth online. User experience still wins the day. It is all about the user. They have control. They vote with a click. Whether it be a click away from your Blog if you are stupid, an un-follow on Twitter if you sound like nothing but a shill and a MLM hack or worse a negative post about you.
    That still leaves me in awe of this thing called the Net.

  3. I am agree 100% that marketers need to think small… engage the bloggers.
    Rob Walker proved the power of bloggers in his book “Buying In”… “let them tell your story”.
    I guess it comes back to power WOM (Word of Mouth)… if you hear the message from some you trust, there is higher degree and likelihood of believability and engagement.
    Thanks for the post.

  4. Hello Mitch
    This one was quite a thought.we tend to use social media too as any other mass communication tool without really identifying the audience.Looking forward to more such posts!

  5. This reminds me a lot of radio advertisements where radio show hosts read an ad before/after the commercial breaks. They’ve built the same trust (with their voices, with their personalities, with their knowledge) as bloggers– and capitalize on that with their loyal listeners. Fans are much more likely to buy a product when the show host they’re familiar with advertises it than from hearing a typical, expected commercial. Fans feel personally invested– the radio show gets them, their interests, and where they’re from.
    Of course, a similar issues emerges: it’s hard to distinguish (even when clarified) between the show content and the advertisement, especially when it’s presented in a similar format with the same voice and enthusiasm. Blogs are obviously no different. Well, except that, with blogs, purchasing an item is just a few clicks away.

  6. In general, your concept is right. I just ran a blogger fam trip and discovered the person with the biggest audience was the worst fit for the destination. But in Nikon’s situation with Chris Brogan I think you’re wrong. Nikon doesn’t have a niche product and Chris’s audience loves him. I think it’s a perfect fit.

  7. That is totally interesting. You seem to be saying that the brand has to do a better job of identifying the right person – That numbers alone aren’t the answer, but rather the person has to have the right klout within the right niche. How would the brand know when a blogger has reached that point? Though like some influence would be established just by the association of brand and blogger. Oh well. I have no idea, but I think you’ve got great food for thought here. (I’m no expert on this topic!)

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