When a Blogger is “Bought” How Much Influence do They Really Have?
Molson’s Brew 2.0 event is a prime example of bad blogger relations with poor targeting and an overemphasis on generic “influencers.”
One topic burning me up over the last few months: bad blogger relations. And the Molson Brew 2.0 event tops that particular list.
I avoided getting into it here for a while, but the discussions around the community continue — the same few people saying the same few things.
This topic 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 would be an understatement. I left a few thoughts there. I planned to follow up 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 posting those thoughts here in the hopes they’ll sink in with at least one sane person out there in social media land.
Before this, I suggest reading Mack’s post. It’s a great discussion on how much influence those “influencers” actually possess, especially when a company doesn’t bother researching exactly who they exert “influence” over to begin with.
The Original Comment
I think the real problem is companies becoming content with getting bloggers to say “Oh, they’re so nice to invite us,” or “They hosted a super-cool event,” while completely ignoring relevance.
I follow several “influential” social media bloggers for example. When I visit their blogs, 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 free beer to pour down your throat isn’t a good reason. Unless perhaps you’re a food & beverage blogger, or you blog 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 “a great example of blogger relations because they ‘bought’ me with free beer” doesn’t cut it. If anything, that’s 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 social media. That makes them unreliable sources. As a member of the type of audience those bloggers were targeting, I couldn’t respect their opinions on that blog anymore seeing they could be bought. There’s no other way to describe it after reading some of those posts. Even a hint of that can turn off blog readers – the very people those companies are hoping you can influence.
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 try harder.
How can companies do better?
1. Focus on 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 a blogger wants advanced info (a big deal for most of them to break even something tiny). Or bloggers might want your direct interaction on their blog. Those in the food & beverage industry or those industries companies like Molson otherwise sponsor would probably love a high-level company rep stopping by and leave a comment. Or offer to do an interview. Or offer to host a special contest or promotion through their blog. Do something of value to them. Build a relationship that amounts to more than manipulation through freebies and schmoozing.
What matters in blogging? The information, not showmanship.
It doesn’t matter how generally “influential” a blogger is. If their audience doesn’t care about your company or product (or wouldn’t want to hear about it in that particular place), that “influential” blogger 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). I saw the same old “ooh, it was so cool they asked me to go… blah, blah, blah.” Not much product info. Not much actual value for each blogger’s readers. Nothing truly new.
If Molson asked people in PR and social media specifically because they wanted them talking about how the event itself operated, that still wouldn’t be good blogger relations. But it would at least be slightly less absurd. When asked publicly however, they made it clear they had no intention to get that kind of coverage, or pitch that kind of angle to 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.
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 heads. And if it were really about “being present” as a future resource for beer-related posts and nothing more, they wouldn’t have targeted social media “influencers.” They would have targeted people already talking about beer.