The power is not in the pen, but in the keyboard

So I always enjoy hearing about people exploiting social media and making it what it could be. Blogging guru Dave Winer recently published a rather scathing article on the very poor service by Comcast and how they are not “social media-friendly”. It used to be that only companies feared the power of printed pieces that got sent out to the masses with somewhat of a delay (publishing, scheduling, etc.), but now companies should understand that when they interact with the public or other businesses, that representative could affect their business simply by writing a blog. And you don’t have to be tech-savvy about it either. Consumers can screw with your brand by posting on free blog sites like Blogger, Myspace, Facebook, Ning, or even on community sites like TripAdvisor, etc. The phrase “buyer beware” is not appropo anymore. Instead, it puts the pressure on the manufacturers and the businesses.

But the blog is used more than just as a mechanism to complain or spread negative news about a product or company. The power of the blog can be used for good and being brand evangalists. In fact, you should ask whether your company is seeking out blogs and forming relations with them. You maybe thinking that it’s more a PR role, but from a marketing aspect, you should definitely reach out and be aware of what blogs are saying about your industry and the trends they’re encountering.

A great article on eMarketer.com illustrates how marketers are reaching out to blogs. According to the article:

In 2007, nearly seven out of 10 respondents to a Manning Selvage & Lee survey indicated that targeting influentials—which certainly includes bloggers—was a tactic they already used or planned to use.

So 70% of respondents have indicated they’ll reach out to bloggers to influence their target audience?  What about the remaining 30%? Unfortunately the survey didn’t indicate what they would use to reach out to their audience – probably other online areas like email marketing or SEM tactics.

The article goes on to say that a huge majority of marketers in the US are focusing on traditional online marketing (82.4%) while coming in a slightly distant second is reaching out to target influencers (69.9%). What’s interesting is that 43.4% said that they’ll use consumer-generated media like YouTube, social networks, and word of mouth to spread the word. But why? Why wouldn’t you take advantage of low-cost marketing tactics like user-generated content?

There are more charts and data for you to take a look at and I won’t bore you by reproducing it here, but if anything, the last good point that this article makes is how you can reach out to bloggers to get news of your product out. Blogging advocacy is a delicate process. Remember, no matter what anyone says, you can not just contact someone and ask them to post something about your product without following these steps:

  • Most important, there must be a fit between the product and the subject of the blog.
  • Avoid shooting e-mails and press releases to bloggers. It is more effective to become familiar with a blog and get to know the writer behind it.
  • Give a product to a blogger as an exclusive and allow the blogger time to work with it.
  • Provide bloggers with links to more information, such as product images and updated information.

Source: Peter Rojas, co-founder of Engadget and Joystiq, and former editorial director at Gizmodo on eMarketer.com.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."