How To Incorporate Blogs Into Your Strategy
Over the years, brands have worked hard to control their image, and critique was limited. Today, critique has free rein. Brands recognize the power of social media -- both good and bad -- but many still try to control it. This is most apparent in the advent of paid-for-endorsement by bloggers. Although consumers consider multiple sources when making their purchase decisions, it is peer-to-peer influence that carries the most weight, especially for Gen Y.
Brands need to be conscious of how they insert themselves into that conversation. Authenticity is crucial to Gen Y, and when brands pay bloggers to endorse their product, members of this generation quickly sniff it out and stamp it "fake." The credibility of the brand and the blogger are both weakened. This is not to say you shouldn't use blogs in your marketing efforts. As research shows, this is one of the most powerful tools marketers have today. Our study, "Why Y Women," showed that 42% of Gen Y women have discovered a new brand or product from a friend mentioning it in a status update, and 31% of Gen Y women have favorite blogs that they read regularly.
It is imperative for brands to understand how to leverage the right blogs in the right way. Below are some tips for adding blogs to your media mix:
- Avoid paid bloggers: Work hard to get your brand in the hands of bloggers who are your target demographic and love your brand. Believe in your product and give bloggers the opportunity to write about it without the payment. Paid bloggers lose credibility with their audience.
- Understand the content: Bloggers are individuals who mostly write about their thoughts and opinions. With the fragmentation of the web and so many niche sites and blogs, it is almost impossible for any marketer to read them all. However, it's critical you do your research before paying money for ad placement or promotions. Understand the voice, tone, audience and reach of the blog. Avoid ad networks where you don't know where you ad will show up.
- Get creative: The Ford Fiesta movement is smart, on- target to Gen Y and innovative. Ford has done an excellent job of getting bloggers to creatively express themselves around its product and has expanded the campaign to include all forms of media. It is truly cross-platform and integrated.
- Measure on engagement, not CTR: The click is dead. We all know this, but it is even more so when it comes to Gen Y. The number of people online who click display ads has dropped 50% in less than two years and only 8% of Internet users account for 85% of all clicks.
However, do not mistake lack of click-through for lack of impact. The exposure brands get on their various partner sites needs to be measured through engagement, which comes in multiple forms. Work with your vendor pre-buy to understand what measurement should look like on-site. Understanding the mechanics of the blog and what engagement means will be critical to understanding the campaign's success.
With the online landscape continuing to morph, combined with Gen Y's fickle behavior, we are learning together how to use social media and blogs to get our message heard. These are some of the tips we've been able to share with our partners this past year. What have you learned? I'd love to hear what has worked for other brands out there.