The final published piece of the draft below was posted here. However, I felt that the post wouldn’t get the points across as my original. So here’s the original 🙂
Earlier this year, a certain tweet* caught my eye, before I realized these tweets were fast becoming a trend:
Oh, fellow bloggers! I thought.
Enthusiastically I clicked through the profiles to see what these people blog about. The blogs consisted mostly of write-ups of brands’ BTL activities. Somewhere in between 12 posts would be a piece of writing that did not seem like a brand’s push tactic.
Ah, the disappointment!
Since that tweet, I have been fascinated by brands’ willingness to jump on this bandwagon, especially after observing the following:
- The same sets of bloggers seem to be at every event, regardless of the category/industry.
- The bloggers will live tweet during the event; disseminating whatever information is shared, usually that is the ONLY time they’ll tweet about it.
- The bloggers tweet regularly about daily life, politics, food cravings, social issues. They do NOT regularly tweet or blog about beauty products, education options, favorite eateries, planning weddings, banking, or Chinese mobile phones to name a few.
- Several selected bloggers work at digital marketing or PR agencies.
Before I elaborate on the implications of these observations and delve into angles that are apparently not being considered by brand managers; let’s look at why bloggers are used as a promotional tool.
Reach and ‘Influence’
Digital marketing and/or PR agencies usually select bloggers based on
- Number of followers – usually >800 followers gets you shortlisted.
- Klout score or some other score that measures ‘influence’.
A blogger is considered influential or a KOL if his/her score falls within a range. Number of followers, retweets, favorites, likes, comments, shares, etc. determine your influence. Of course, it’s not as simple as just counting them.
So, as a brand manager, you get your message across to thousands of people on social media via influential people. You get reach and generate ToM at the very least. It’s cost effective as well, what more can you ask for?
A lot more.
The Devil is in the Details
Let’s start with why the aforementioned observations can be a problem:
Followers – the bloggers may have thousands of followers but we discount the possibility of the bloggers having many common followers. Moreover, I would like to know why those bloggers have so many followers [side note: female accounts tend to have more male followers; food for thought]. Throw in social media usage habits along with demo/psychographics and you wonder about unique reach and who are you really reaching?
Views – considering the messages are usually tweeted out during the event/activation; serious question marks around effective reach. Again, social media usage habits would help us better understand if those one-time tweets are enough and whether or not those write-ups on blogs are worth it.
Most of these bloggers are not specialists of any kind, so, why would a follower take their one-time tweets seriously considering the content of their regular tweets?
Influencers and KOLs
It’s interesting how influencers and KOLs are defined by digital/PR agencies. To me, it doesn’t speak of influencing any decision. A retweet, share, favorite, comment can be done for several reasons; either positive or negative. It doesn’t necessarily drive any action for my brand. So, what exactly has the influencer influenced for my brand?
If one is defined as a KOL, one would expect that KOL to actually have some expertise around the subject matter either because of their qualifications and/or because of the time they invest in that subject area.
How else are they supposed to actually lead an opinion if that opinion has no value?
So, does this mean using bloggers is a bad idea?
Areas for Assessment
In summary, there are 4 major areas brand managers should assess before jumping on to the blogger bandwagon:
- Selection of bloggers
- Are they relevant to your category/product?
- Can they be considered influencers or KOLs in actual terms? Are they actually bloggers of your category or have they been installed as such by digital agencies/PR firms?
- What do these bloggers usually tweet or write about?
- Why do these bloggers have so many followers?
- Who follows these bloggers? Are they your target audience?
- Does your target audience even use social media or read blogs?
- What sort of social content is more likely to influence a decision in favor of your brand?
- Engagement/Content Generation
- Bloggers need to be engaged in a more relevant and meaningful way so they endorse a brand that seems more like pull rather than push.
- Are views and engagement enough as a success measure?
- Can a mechanism be devised to track concrete effectiveness of this tool?
To further illustrate point 4 (B), Adidas UK ran this promo using Arsenal FC footballer Kieran Gibbs:
Not only is it encouraging concrete action in favor of the brand, but the effectiveness of this tactic can be easily tracked.
To conclude, even if a brand’s objective is restricted to generating recall or ToM, most of the questions above still apply; regardless of which social media platform.
Every brand is not suitable for engaging bloggers and every blogger is not suitable for every brand.
*Real Twitter handles have not been used for the purpose of privacy, any resemblance to a real Twitter handle is purely coincidental.