When a Blogger is “Bought” How Much Influence do They Really Have?
OK. I’m reviving NakedPR as a one time only thing for now. If one topic has had me burning up over the last few months, it’s been bad blogger relations, and the Molson Brew 2.0 event has been at the top of my shit list (and that’s putting it “nicely”).
I’ve avoided getting into it here, but the discussions just don’t seem to go away – and nothing worth saying at that – just the same few people saying the same few things.
It came up again when Eden Spodek commented on Mack Collier’s post “Are Companies Targeting the Wrong ‘Influencers’ with Social Media?”
To say I cringed (at the comment; not the post–which has it spot on) would be a serious understatement. I left a few thoughts there. I was going to followup with more in response to a comment from Brandon Carlos, but the comment ended up practically being a post in itself. So rather than hijack Mack’s post over this particular case, I’m just posting those thoughts here in the hopes that they’ll sink in with at least one sane person out there in SM-land.
Before this, I suggest reading Mack’s post. It’s a great discussion on how much influence those “influencers” actually have, when the company doesn’t bother researching exactly who they have “influence” over to begin with.
I think the real problem is that companies are becoming content with getting bloggers to say “Oh, they’re so nice to have invited us,” or “They hosted a super-cool event,” and completely ignore relevance.
I follow several “influential” SM bloggers for example. When I visit their blog, I expect to read about social media issues – not beer, not soda, not anything unrelated unless there’s a heck of a good reason.
Telling your readers how Molson decided to give you some free beer to pour down your throat isn’t a good reason (unless you’re following a food & beverage blogger, or are in a pop culture kind of niche full of cheap beer drinkers who want to pat you on the back for the great mooch). Even attempting to spin it as “it’s a great example of blogger relations because they “bought” me with free beer” doesn’t cut it – if anything, that’s just sad.
Personally, I stopped following a few bloggers who went on about that event, because frankly they showed me they didn’t “get” blogging’s role in SM enough for me to continue wasting time following them. As a member of the type of audience those bloggers were targeting, I couldn’t respect their opinions on that blog anymore seeing that they could be bought (and there’s no other way to describe it after reading some of those posts). Even a hint of that is a turn-off as a blog reader – the very people those companies are hoping you can influence (not any more sweeties).
Now as much as I despise the BS surrounding the Brew 2.0 event, I’ll at least give Molson a tiny bit of credit for trying. But they should have tried harder.
How could they have done that?
1. Better targeting (more quality over quantity).
2. Actually give the bloggers something no one else has – something worth blogging about that their readers would care about – a story to break, etc. (And “they hosted a blogger event” hardly counts when it’s irrelevant to the bulk of their target market / customers.)
3. Get it through your heads that blogger relations isn’t about kissing the ass of bloggers, parties, and events. Far more often what a blogger wants is advanced info (it’s a big deal for most of them to break even something tiny), or your direct interaction on their blog–those in the food & bev industry or those industries that companies like Molson otherwise sponsor would probably love to have a high-level company rep stop by and leave a comment, offer to do an interview, offer to do a special contest or promotion through their blog, etc. What matters in blogging is the information; not showmanship.
The real key is that it doesn’t matter how generally “influential” a blogger is. If they’re audience doesn’t care about your company or product (or wouldn’t want to hear about it in that particular place), then that “influential” blogger actually has very little real influence over their readers when it comes to that particular post.
Did Molson get some blog coverage? Sure. But I didn’t see anything truly substantive (and I saw a lot of it). It was the same old “ooh, it was so cool they asked me to go,” and blah, blah, blah. Where was the product info? Where was the actual value to each blogger’s readers? Where was there anything truly new? There really wasn’t much, if any.
If Molson were asking people in PR and SM specifically because they wanted them talking about how the event itself was run, that still wouldn’t be good blogger relations, but it would at least be slightly less absurd. But when asked publicly, they made it clear they had no intention whatsoever to get that kind of coverage, or pitch that kind of angle to the bloggers.
“We’re in no way interested in publicizing our social media capabilities, rather we want to ensure that we’re present, and can contribute somehow if possible, when beer or related topics are being discussed online.” – Green Banana
Instead they opted to put on a fake face and say they really expected nothing at all – and I’m sorry, but by telling those bloggers there that you didn’t expect it, you’re bringing it up with the hope of planting that idea in their head. And if it were really about “being present” as a future resource for beer-related posts and nothing more, they wouldn’t have targeted SM “influencers” – they would have targeted people already talking about beer.
That entire thing was a joke and very little more.”
As I said on Mack’s post, I’m amused to see Molson’s still spiking the Kool-aid. And just for shits and giggles, over the next few weeks, I think I’m going to take on a bit of research some of these folks obviously neglected. I’ve decided I’m going to reach out to two target blogger groups that would have been better targets than SM folks for a beer company: food & beverage bloggers and a niche of entertainment bloggers where my event experience tells me alcohol companies are often the biggest sponsors (and whose readers are huge fans of the general product). That’s to start–beyond that, I’ll consider making it a bigger endeavor covering more “influential” bloggers in a larger sample of popular blog niches. If I take it to that point, I’ll be sure to publish the results, and then maybe we’ll once and for all see what bloggers really want out of your blogger relations efforts.