Why in the World Would Anyone Think Bloggers Should Work for Free?
Try this, call Time Warner and tell them you’d like them to advertise your product on Franklin & Bash, Cooking Light and in People. Tell them it’s a really great new product and their audience will love it and that you’ll put them in the running for a gift card if they feature your item. I’m sure they’ll be polite, but you aren’t going to be getting any advertising. After all, Time Warner has built these properties, curated an audience, sweated over editorial deadlines and well, created a media vehicle. That’s why they can charge for access to that audience.
Why then would we expect bloggers, or more aptly described micro-publishers, to be any different? Every day, these hard working folks do the exact same thing that Time Warner does. These groups of specialized media professionals have invested their time, energy, passion and expertise in growing an audience, building a brand and understanding how the changing landscape of communications is effecting media engagement on a daily basis. In fact, much of the content being produced in this format has greater reach, engagement and impact in terms of consumption and conversion than much of the media produced by Time Warner.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at Pinterest, one of the connective tissue elements of the social-ecosystem that’s highly affected by blogging. Bloggers drove the use of this platform as they realized (long ago) that Pinterest was an engagement tool that drove the most traffic to their blogs. Brands figured this out (a year and a half later) and are rapidly utilizing the platform. Too bad they didn’t invest in the expertise of the blogger’s earlier as Pinterest has become the most valuable traffic driver for many retailers and brands (and larger AOV, Average Order Value). What makes Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook or any platform relevant is content and bloggers produce an inordinate amount of the content filling these emerging channels.
My point is simple and clear. Bloggers have built media channels, those channels have value and it’s not free potato chips. It’s time to recognize and respect the investment they have made and treat social advertising just like any other channel. Collective Bias pays our Social Fabric® community members for what they do, period. This has nothing to do with their opinion, it’s for access to their network, expertise, influence and in our case, for sharing insights along the path to purchase. As Ted Rubin so aptly states regularly via twitter and his many speaking engagements… “when done correctly, bloggers are not paid for their advocacy… they are paid for their influence, expertise and hard work.”
Many marketers ask me, doesn’t this affect their integrity? Do you really think they would have an audience if they are simply unicorn and kitten shills for products? The answer is no, they would not. I am proud and honored to work with some of the most advanced new media professionals I’ve ever met in a 20 year career in brand and product management. Check them out at consumerqueen.com, girlfriendology.com, thebigbinder.com, nickcicero.com, wovenbywords.blogspot.com, bubblynaturecreations.com or hundreds of others.
Do me a favor, ask them about their reach, engagement, ability to drive awareness and compare their reach and conversion to your current marketing vehicles. Most importantly, understand where this powerful form of media fits into your brand’s media plan as paid or owned vs. earned media.