What brand owners should consider before getting involved with bloggers
It was reported last week that Google has found itself faced with the spectre of having to ban it’s own Chrome browser from its search index following a mix-up with bloggers over a paid advertising scheme. Although initially likely to raise a wry smile among most of us, it also serves to highlight the perils of what is becoming an increasingly important marketing channel.
Marketing used to be about who could shout loudest and longest, but today it’s about engaging with your consumer in the places that matter to them. The impact of social media has meant that there are now complex networks of conversations going on around friends, retailers, experts, reviewers and bloggers, all offering opinions and making recommendations.
These passionate voices are driving our society on any number of levels, and many bloggers now have more influence than some traditional top line media channels. In our new world of intensified personalisation and social media engagement, the influence they bring on our purchasing decisions is avidly sought after by brands to help increase sales and extend reach.
However, there is a clear lesson for brand owners in the conundrum that the search giant is now mulling over. While bloggers and blog networks can unquestionably exert a growing influence on the general public and give marketers and media agencies access to large and engaged communities, their independence can mean they are also potentially loose canons. We now know through painful experience how badly burned brands can get through social media when something goes wrong or someone makes an indiscreet comment, and in much the same way bloggers and blog networks need to be handled with a similar level of caution.
As we stand at the moment the passionate voices of bloggers represent the future of web-based content, and they are only going to exert an increasing influence on the media landscape in the coming years. This means that brands need to have a safe, secure and trusted route to interact with these communities for the benefit of all concerned.
To ensure this is the case, clear guidelines need to be set out so that everyone involved – from the brand to the media agency to the publisher themselves – understands the position they are in and what is expected (and in Google’s case, what’s not expected) of them. In turn this means building stronger relationships with the bloggers or blogging networks themselves.
The marketing community is and always will be looking for the next best thing when it comes to getting their message across to their target audience, and using the power of the modern influencers is high on the agenda but as this creeps into the mainstream media landscape there needs to be a greater element of engagement. Bloggers and their communities are only going to become more important to brands, and this is a timely reminder for marketers that they need to make sure they know exactly where their ads are going.
Giles Ivey is Managing Director, UK at SAY Media