From the category archives:

Blogger Engagement

What the ‘Australia’ film launch shows us about authenticity

by Jason Preston on December 2, 2008

According to Gawker, the “highly anticipated” film Australia is rolling out to a lackluster reception in…Australia. Of course, just because it doesn’t do well down under doesn’t mean that the mass audiences in the United States won’t like it, but I’m willing to bet that most of the time a Bad Movie in Australia = a Bad Movie in the US.

But anyone can tell us if a movie is good or bad. The real golden nugget in the Gawker post is this:

We guess it’s just not possible anymore—people, what with the internet and all, are just too cynical—to manufacture a phenomenon. It has to come much more organically than this.

We’ve been telling people from the early days of blogging that authenticity is of paramount importance. Writing blog posts and engaging with people online is not like writing a press release or making an execuspeak presentation.

The audience is savvy, and they know when you’re laying down astroturf. The more you try to shove things down their throats, the less they’re going to pay attention to what you say, and I think the price you pay in authority for a few more ticket sales is not worth it in the long run.

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A New Way to Measure Blog Influence: Search Term Alignment

by Steve Broback on May 5, 2008

Hey PR people! Want to get bloggers to write about you or your products? Please, please, for all concerned — tear up your Technorati Top 100 list and start over. For most companies, 99 percent of overtures made to the “A” list bloggers will at best be ignored, and at worst could result in negative coverage.

We believe the best bet is to find approachable bloggers with the right topical alignment. The nice thing is that if you are topically aligned to a significant degree, even a relatively popular blogger can find your message of interest.

The key thing is to create a win-win scenario where the blogger being approached is actually glad to hear from you, and you know that if they write about you, someone will actually read it. We think a good way to do this is to find bloggers who are writing about things your customers are interested in, and have aligned posts that are prominent in search.

The main thing to recognize is that significant and growing numbers of shoppers begin their buying process in a search engine. Anyone with a retail site can attest to the fact that their server logs show the bulk of their traffic is coming from search. Blog posts are featured prominently in results your customers are finding, and these are the bloggers to engage. Robert Scoble wrote recently that despite Twitter and Facebook it’s still “a Google world” and we couldn’t agree more.

Here’s an example of how search term analysis can provide a numerical index of alignment with a company.

Let’s look at two bloggers that are not on the Technorati 100 and how they align with two very different companies.

Let’s start with Jeremiah Owyang. He wrote a bit about influence today. Buzzlogic, a company perhaps using the old-world(?) “inbound-links-as-power” metaphor was profiled.

Jeremiah places highly (in the top 20) in Google for 7,900 unique search terms. The top 10 individual words used are: media, marketing, web, social, myspace, strategy, community, facebook, companies, and corporate.

Thomas Hawk places highly with 8,200 terms, the top ten being: camera, media, digital, windows, player, mce, store, center, connection, photo, and slr.

Do these blogs overlap at all? A little. They share 8 popular search terms between them:

That’s an alignment of about .1 percent.

Let’s look at a couple vendors who are buying Adwords search terms.

Awareness Networks provides social networks to the enterprise. They’ve purchased 1,270 search terms. How many align with Thomas Hawk’s organic keywords? Zero. How many align with Jeremiah? 64. That’s an alignment of 5.04% Here those terms are:

Digital SLR Guide teaches consumers how to buy and use digital SLR cameras. They’ve bought 708 search terms. How many align with Jeremiah? Zero. How many align with Thomas Hawk? 50. That’s an alignment of 7.06%. Here are the overlapping terms:

Our sense is that the terms we see here are compelling, and that alignment numbers (purchased terms/blogger organic terms) indicates both strength of “influence” (highly ranked organic terms) and topicality (shared terms).

We’re now starting to use search term analysis in an organized way to both measure influence and to do the needed “matchmaking” between clients and bloggers. Eager to hear what readers think.

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Blogspotting is right: talk to the B-list bloggers

by Jason Preston on February 13, 2008

Unless you’ve got a private line on a big-name blogger like Scoble, the chances getting him to notice you, your company, your product, or that facebook message you sent him last week is pretty damn small.

The fact is that “A-list” bloggers are inundated, and no matter how cool you are, there are a lot of demands on their time, and only so much of it can be spent responding to every single comment and every single e-mail.

Part of the advantage of a blog (and indeed the personal computer) is that you can talk to thousands of people, one-on-one, at the same time. But that doesn’t make you any better at receiving thousands of communications, one on one, at the same time. When you hit a certain size, as a blogger, there’s only so much you can humanly respond to. (duh)

Blogspotting calls it right:

So is it axiomatic that once your scale extends beyond the camp fire, or perhaps beyond the range of a single human voice, your ability to respond to a single customer or voter flickers and dies?

If so, there’s good news: For every blogger who grows big and turns off comments, new opportunities sprout for attentive newcomers and small-fry.

When we work with clients on blogger engagement, we often encourage them to reach out to not the A-list bloggers in their space, but the B-list or C-list bloggers. Those who are topical, enthusiastic, and who aren’t completely swamped with invites, messages, and requests.

A lot of the time, the A-list bloggers “outsource” their content filtering to these smaller blogs – they’ll find cool products or topics on bloggers who have a much smaller readership. Which means that by courting the B-list, you’re also courting the A-list—albeit indirectly.

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New Horizons in Editorial Development for Our Next Business Blogging Conference

by Teresa Valdez Klein on June 15, 2007

We’ve been spending a lot of time recently on developing the roster of sessions and speakers for our upcoming conference in Chicago. This happens to be one of my favorite parts of working with the Blog Business Summit because it gives me the opportunity to review experts, ideas and best practices from all over the emerging field of business blogging.

This year, we’re working to bring more corporate speakers than ever before to the podium. Big corporations have a great deal to gain by blogging, but they also have a long way to fall if their initiatives are not well-crafted. In order to give our corporate attendees the information they need, we are drawing speakers from the growing pool of corporations who are blogging and engaging with bloggers successfully.

And while successful business blogging remains the primary focus of our conference, the Blog Business Summit is about more than blogs. New media for online communication are emerging all the time, and we know that our attendees want to be on top of those trends as well. This year’s conference will take a look at emergence of online social networks as powerful media properties in their own right. Understanding how these networks function and how users respond to commercial engagement with their communities is just as important as understanding the rules of successful corporate blogging and blogger engagement.

Another new horizon in our editorial development process has been the launch of our session submission and review system. A lot of successful conferences in the technology space take on an “unconference” model. That is, the attendees shape the editorial and direct how the conference forms. We think this is an interesting idea, but we run a conference that is primarily targeted at the business community.

We started asking ourselves, “how do we adapt our business-oriented conference to a more democratic model without sacrificing hard-hitting business oriented editorial?” We decided to put our money where our mouths are. After all, we’re always talking about listening to community when it comes to product development.

So we worked with our team of geeks to develop a massive custom WordPress plugin that would allow us to make blog posts the fundamental unit of editorial. In short, one blog post = one conference session. The plugin allows us to provide additional meta-data to each post (time, location, editorial track, speakers, etc.).

The plugin also manages and reviews the ratings and proposal system. This allows anyone who is interested to submit a session for review, and to vote on proposed sessions. We think this hits the sweet spot between community participation and the top-down editorial model favored by most business conferences.

Stay tuned in the coming days for some very exciting session and speaker announcements. Sessions will appear right here on the blog (and in our RSS feed) as individual blog posts.

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On WSJ’s “Blogola” Coverage and the Best Way to do Blogger Outreach

by Teresa Valdez Klein on May 16, 2007

The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of how television studios are conducting blogger outreach was really interesting.

So was Jeff Jarvis’ response:

Bloggers are, truly, just viewers and fans: real people. So who’s going to pass up a chance to hobnob with a star and take home some TV schwag?

Personally, I think CBS did it 95% right. They reached out to people who are influential among their niche, gave them a cool experience and didn’t tell them to lie or offer them anything in exchange for positive coverage. It was a smart initiative and I don’t think they committed any major ethical violations.

If I had been advising them, I would have recommended that they track down bloggers who are already fans of the show. That would eliminate any question of whether the bloggers in question were saying nice things because they were given access because they were already fans long before the offer was made.

Reaching out to bloggers who can influence your niche is smart. Reaching out to bloggers who already like your product and have some reach within your niche is smarter. And reaching out to bloggers who have said negative things about you and trying to improve their experience with your company is the the cleverest move of all.

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Online Community Engagement Strategies: Mashing up Chris Pirillo and Michael Raynor

by Teresa Valdez Klein on May 9, 2007

Chris Pirillo has nine excellent points about how to do business on the Web. I’d like to expand on his first point.

Chris writes:

It’s not just about having an open mind; it’s about having an open strategy. You can’t control the Internet. Once you put something out there for the world to consume, assume that they will consume it but not just in the format you offered. It doesn’t matter if it’s audio, video, text, software, hardware or any other service—they’ll want to use it in ways that you can’t even imagine.

This is what Michael Raynor was talking about when he told PR Squared’s Todd Defren that social media injects additional uncertainty into business operations.

And it has more serious implications than the simple re-purposing of content. Businesses need to approach all aspects of social media with an open strategy. Unlike traditional marketing efforts, nobody can control the pace or subject matter of a conversation online. Each individual that participates can take any discussion or line of thought in myriad new ways.

So how does traditional goal-setting jibe with this lack of control? I think it works something like this:

  1. Set a reasonable goal for your online interaction.
  2. Listen to each individual and how the community responds to the individual.
  3. Ask intelligent questions and listen to the responses.
  4. Ask, “is my reasonable goal still reasonable?”
  5. Either adjust goals to fit community response, or take another step toward your goal.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5.

What do you guys think?

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Be Prepared for Bloggers to Hate Stuff You Send to Them

by Teresa Valdez Klein on May 2, 2007

Gizmodo’s Matt Buchanan has a scathing review of some eye drops he was sent from Rohto.

The drops are supposed to soothe away the strain of staring at a computer monitor all day long. Buchanan’s review: “Sweet Christ, I’m Blind!”

If you send your product to a blogger — like the rep from Rohto did — you have to be prepared for the blogger to hate it. It’s entirely possible that Rohto took that into account. It’s also entirely possible that Buchanan has sensitive eyes. We don’t know.

What we do know is that everyone likes different stuff, and some bloggers may not be as thrilled with your product as you are. And they may say so publicly. Companies that want to engage with the blogosphere need to be prepared to get criticized.

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