Enough With Blogger Strategies!

I attended an event recently where I had the pleasure of chatting with a number of executives about social media.

All a-buzz with buzz words

The ‘in’ term seemed to be “blogging strategies” – “we need a blogging strategy for what we’re doing…”

While it wasn’t the time or the place for a lecture on not leaping in too quickly, I squirmed inside every time I heard the term, because I knew they meant it in one of two ways:

  • We should have a blog for every initiative we do, or
  • We should be pitching our initiatives to bloggers.

There’s more to social media than blogs

I’m thrilled that these folks, some of whom I already knew and have great respect for, are excited about social media. However, I worry about people launching headlong into ill-advised, poorly thought-out initiatives, getting burned and not coming back for more, just because it’s the ‘in’ thing to do.

Social media is about more than blogging or blogger relations. These are two great tactics, but just as with any other communications project you should take a look at the situation and pick the appropriate tools.

Don’t dive in head-first

To compound the problem of narrowly defining social media, rushing into blogging or blogger relations is a bad idea.

Getting into blogging and blogger relations

Now Is GoneThere are three basic steps that I think every company looking at both blogging and blogger relations should undertake:

  • Listen
    • Sit back, relax and read. Check out what people are writing about your company, your products and your executives
    • Use free tools like Google Blogsearch, BlogPulse and Technorati to track what’s going on
    • While you’re doing this, work out who the influencers are
    • If you really want to shine, consider creating a media clippings-like product, summarizing online coverage, and circulate it internally
  • Engage
    • Bit by bit, start to comment on posts about your brand. Take it slow to start with – focus on the influencers and expand from there
      Update: Your initial comments shouldn’t be on posts about your brand. Get involved in the wider conversation and build a relationship with bloggers before starting to engage about your brand. If you find they don’t want comments from PR people about their clients, respect that.
    • Take care in selecting who to respond to and how to respond
  • Contribute

In reality, I’d recommend additional steps (like considering whether your organization is even ready for this kind of environment), but these three steps are a good start. For more tips on blogger relations, check out Lee Odden’s excellent primer and work through the links at the bottom.

Thinking of steps to success, what advice would you give to organizations looking to get into blogging or blogger relations? What are your favourite resources?

24 comments
Dave Fleet
Dave Fleet

Eden -- thanks for your comment! As we discussed yesterday, we synced up on this one - I actually updated the post as you were commenting.

You make an excellent point - transparency is very important. PR people should definitely disclose their role when commenting on posts related to their client.

Dave Fleet
Dave Fleet

Eden -- thanks for your comment! As we discussed yesterday, we synced up on this one - I actually updated the post as you were commenting. You make an excellent point - transparency is very important. PR people should definitely disclose their role when commenting on posts related to their client.

Dave Fleet
Dave Fleet

Henna -- you're right, companies should start out by commenting on things that aren't about their company (and building a relationship with you through other means if appropriate, too) - I neglected to put that in my original post. I've fixed that now - thanks for pointing that out.

Dave Fleet
Dave Fleet

Henna -- you're right, companies should start out by commenting on things that aren't about their company (and building a relationship with you through other means if appropriate, too) - I neglected to put that in my original post. I've fixed that now - thanks for pointing that out.

Eden Spodek
Eden Spodek

Excellent post Dave!

When it comes to the engage aspect, while it's important communicators learn how to use social media and commenting on blogs is a good way to start, I think people need to tread carefully.

It may be easiest to start commenting on blogs unrelated to your company or client(s). Start commenting on other industry blogs or topics of interest.

Unlike Henna, I actually welcome comments from people representing brands provided they are upfront and either offer points of clarification or move the discussion along.

What I don't like is when they say they are "anonymous" but clearly they are speaking on behalf of product or service and their post is a blatant promotion.

Eden Spodek
Eden Spodek

Excellent post Dave! When it comes to the engage aspect, while it's important communicators learn how to use social media and commenting on blogs is a good way to start, I think people need to tread carefully. It may be easiest to start commenting on blogs unrelated to your company or client(s). Start commenting on other industry blogs or topics of interest. Unlike Henna, I actually welcome comments from people representing brands provided they are upfront and either offer points of clarification or move the discussion along. What I don't like is when they say they are "anonymous" but clearly they are speaking on behalf of product or service and their post is a blatant promotion.

Henna
Henna

You are right - I don't mention any commenting policies on my blog but it's because I figure that PR people will just know. I mean, if you're posting a comment about the brand you represent, I'm assuming it's because you want to say something good about it, and since your point of view is unobjective, it's not necessarily the best comment.

And I want to clarify - I'm definitely open to hearing from companies! I love hearing from P.R. people and agencies because they help me get the right information. The ones that I do deal with are great - they are helpful and have taken the time to build a relationship with me which makes it a pleasure to work with them! But they haven't built that relationship through commenting and I don't think that would be a great start. If they wanted to comment on products they don't represent, I'd be open to that as long as they weren't bashing them.

But yeah, all this just goes for me (and most product-focussed bloggers I've spoken to).

Henna
Henna

You are right - I don't mention any commenting policies on my blog but it's because I figure that PR people will just know. I mean, if you're posting a comment about the brand you represent, I'm assuming it's because you want to say something good about it, and since your point of view is unobjective, it's not necessarily the best comment. And I want to clarify - I'm definitely open to hearing from companies! I love hearing from P.R. people and agencies because they help me get the right information. The ones that I do deal with are great - they are helpful and have taken the time to build a relationship with me which makes it a pleasure to work with them! But they haven't built that relationship through commenting and I don't think that would be a great start. If they wanted to comment on products they don't represent, I'd be open to that as long as they weren't bashing them. But yeah, all this just goes for me (and most product-focussed bloggers I've spoken to).

Dave Fleet
Dave Fleet

Hi Henna,

Thanks for your perspective.

If the company does step #1 (listen) properly, they should know that you don't want comments from PR folks on your site and that they should contact you another way. Remember, though - not everyone feels that way. Some people are open to hearing from companies.

Thinking of your specific situation: You've made your decision on companies commenting on your blog so I won't speak to that. In terms of your site, at first glance I don't see anything that would indicate you don't want to hear from PR people (it may be that you've written about it in the past, but I haven't delved that deeply). I suggest that you put something in your sidebar or on a 'comment policy' page that clearly says you don't want comments from companies. That way the good people will notice and pick another way to contact you (perhaps consider providing that clearly, too), and you have something to point not-so-good people to, too.

Thanks again,

Dave

Dave Fleet
Dave Fleet

Hi Henna, Thanks for your perspective. If the company does step #1 (listen) properly, they should know that you don't want comments from PR folks on your site and that they should contact you another way. Remember, though - not everyone feels that way. Some people are open to hearing from companies. Thinking of your specific situation: You've made your decision on companies commenting on your blog so I won't speak to that. In terms of your site, at first glance I don't see anything that would indicate you don't want to hear from PR people (it may be that you've written about it in the past, but I haven't delved that deeply). I suggest that you put something in your sidebar or on a 'comment policy' page that clearly says you don't want comments from companies. That way the good people will notice and pick another way to contact you (perhaps consider providing that clearly, too), and you have something to point not-so-good people to, too. Thanks again, Dave

Gavin Heaton
Gavin Heaton

As you suggest, blogging is not a strategy, but a tactic within an overall social media strategy. Sure blogs are a great way to communicate, but it is just one of the forms in which consumers and businesses are engaging with brands. If you follow the first step of "Listening" well, then you may find that you need to "play" in other social media spaces too.

Gavin Heaton
Gavin Heaton

As you suggest, blogging is not a strategy, but a tactic within an overall social media strategy. Sure blogs are a great way to communicate, but it is just one of the forms in which consumers and businesses are engaging with brands. If you follow the first step of "Listening" well, then you may find that you need to "play" in other social media spaces too.

Geoff Livingston
Geoff Livingston

Hey, Dave. Great post. Thanks for including the book. Going to tweet your post now.

Geoff Livingston
Geoff Livingston

Hey, Dave. Great post. Thanks for including the book. Going to tweet your post now.

Henna
Henna

I love your whole Listen and Contribute part, but as a blogger, I have to wholly disagree with the Engage. When PR or Marketing people comment on my blog, I delete the comments when I am sure I know who they are from. It's usually so transparent that they are commenting for their own benefit rather than to add anything to the community the blogger has set up. I would say that the best way to engage with a blogger is to email them and tell them who you are and what you do. I've had people email me saying that they're long time readers (when they're not) and saying that they have some suggestions (when they blatantly just want their own brand mentioned). Skip all of that, and tell the blogger upfront that you want to work with them (even if you're not sure of how at the moment) and you'll actually be able to establish a relationship based on trust.

Sorry for writing too much, but I know PR people are going to read your post and they need to know stuff from the other side too.

Henna
Henna

I love your whole Listen and Contribute part, but as a blogger, I have to wholly disagree with the Engage. When PR or Marketing people comment on my blog, I delete the comments when I am sure I know who they are from. It's usually so transparent that they are commenting for their own benefit rather than to add anything to the community the blogger has set up. I would say that the best way to engage with a blogger is to email them and tell them who you are and what you do. I've had people email me saying that they're long time readers (when they're not) and saying that they have some suggestions (when they blatantly just want their own brand mentioned). Skip all of that, and tell the blogger upfront that you want to work with them (even if you're not sure of how at the moment) and you'll actually be able to establish a relationship based on trust. Sorry for writing too much, but I know PR people are going to read your post and they need to know stuff from the other side too.

Lee Odden
Lee Odden

Thanks for mentioning these resources Dave. Pitching bloggers can be a slippery slope but one with significant rewards if done right.

Lee Odden
Lee Odden

Thanks for mentioning these resources Dave. Pitching bloggers can be a slippery slope but one with significant rewards if done right.

Todd Defren
Todd Defren

Good stuff, Dave, and thanks for pointing to our Blogger Relations bookmark. (It's printed, laminated and on a stand @ every one of our employees' desks.)

Todd Defren
Todd Defren

Good stuff, Dave, and thanks for pointing to our Blogger Relations bookmark. (It's printed, laminated and on a stand @ every one of our employees' desks.)

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