I think I applied to TIN sometime back, but never really got any form of proper reply, which is okay, I still get content from them, so that’s pretty kewl. For one, I don’t need to constantly crack my brain about what to write. Anyhow, this topic was addressed to “Dear Bloggers & friends…” I’m assuming I’m the “friends” of the network, haha.
I read the piece (a little over-said already), though I don’t absolutely agree to everything said, I’m agreeable to the majority of it.
[REPOST with amendments]
Lately, as the boss of TIN, I have received a lot of queries about using bloggers to review their products or services. While there are still doubts on the effectiveness of bloggers as a word of mouth marketing tool, I see a lot of clients opening up to the idea of blogger engagement and tapping on the blogging community to amplify their communications objectives. This is a good sign. However, I believe I can discuss until the cow comes home and sceptics will still think its ineffective. Or people will say that as the boss of TIN, obviously I am biased in my opinions.
Most of you will know that apart from being the boss of TIN, I am a University Associate with Curtin University, Singapore, teaching Internet Marketing, and also the co-owner of a local boutique Foot Reflex brand, Feet Haven Reflexology. So when I am speaking as a Comms person, I am speaking as someone with business experiences and also Marketing/PR academic know-how. And I have personally seen how my business (Feet Haven Reflexology) grew as a result of a long-term engagement I had with the blogging community in Singapore. In fact, a lot of my new customers know us through the digital spaces. So hear from me as a business owner, and not so much a Comms personnel.
And here are 12 reasons why businesses, SMEs, Corporations or even Government should consider using bloggers as an integral part of their business strategy.
1) Consumers trust word of mouth advertising
Based on a Nielson’s report ‘Global Trust in advertising and brand messages’ published in April 2012, the report showed that 92 percent of consumers around the world now say they trust word of mouth recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Look around you and you’ll realise that everyone is into his or her smart phones. They spent time reading news from social feeds and a large part of their decision making is based on what they see online. So say goodbye to TV or print advertising. The future is word of mouth advertising.
2) Everyone is a media owner
This is a notion that I am personally pushing. I am seeing 7.2 billion (and growing) individual media owners in the years to come. Essentially anyone can be a publisher, a media owner, with the power to influence. Based on the diffusion of innovation model, in any society, there are always the innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. Marketers are trying to reach out to the early and late majority as fast as possible as it means adoption rate for their products/ services is fast. Tapping on bloggers, in this case, is to supercharge this process and to get these early adopters to spread the word faster, so that everyone is aware of the new innovation; be it products, services or idea.
3) The future of advertising is customised curation of experience aka user generated content
Brand owners dictate advertising in the past. The way the brand communicates is based on a scripted and orchestrated process. Creatives determine the brand strategy, messages and creative approaches and seek to control the user experiences and outcome. With social media, it is now the reversed. The trend is moving towards crowd sourcing, a term used to define user generated content where advertising becomes a customised curation of personal experiences and the individual’s interpretation of the brand and its persona. Think #hashtag on Instagram and how users are curating their own pictures related to a brand/campaign theme or idea. Using bloggers will help your brand embody this notion of ‘customised curation’, as consumers learn how such curated experiences could be produced for themselves as well.
4) Improve search engine results
Obviously in today’s world, Google is king. Consumers use Google to find everything under the sun. To be ranked organically, a brand owner must work on a highly optimised site. A lot of business owners know nuts about SEO. Most think that they need good traffic or good key words. This is not all. Google has its own set of algorithm, which they use to calculate the ranking. One of the measurements is based on the number of back links a site has to many other sites. When bloggers blog for you, they will insert your links (website plus social media links) towards the end to direct customers to your website. By doing so, the quality score improves, and you are on your way to getting better organic ranking. Say goodbye to SEM, which you probably need to fork out $500 per month.
5) Bloggers have authentic voices
With traditional media, journalists are trained to manufacture news. Journalists report news that are news worthy and journalism students will tell you its about the 5ws 1 H and many other external and internal factors determining how news are framed and primed. The media business is a complex one. Just look at SPH or MediaCorp, or Murdoch’s media, for the which are owned by semi-government forces and investors with varying degrees of political agenda. Commercial or governmental forces like it sometimes nuance the editorial prerogatives or not. What you see as the end product; a newspaper, TV programme, went through a complex juxtaposition of production, packaged for the eyes of consumerism. Bloggers on the other hand, are authentic individual voices with no other agenda. Their mission is to serve themselves and their readers. They are not answerable to any editors, copy editors, and what not, and they write whatever they feel so. Of course, bloggers are answerable to their blogger agency and advertisers.
6) Supercharge your digital campaigns
7) Increase emphasis on ROI
In advertising, we always want to prove that a marketing action is effective and translate to good bottom-line results. We want to know whether TV advertising is effective or a print ad can actually get people to visit a store for a year-end sale. This is a fundamental issue facing advertising, PR and communications industry. How do we measure the ROI of bloggers? Are we looking at the number of fans a blogger has? Does having 500K fans on Instagram guarantee a certain return? I think there is currently a lot of emphasis on numbers; the number of followers, likes, shares etc. I believe that these are important indicators. However, the true test is really on the bottom-line. How many actions / sales/ people can one blogger rally or influence? I think this is the true measure of a blogger’s effectiveness. Increasingly, blogger agencies have put in more measures to work on the ROI for expenditures on Influencer Marketing. Using a blogger code to track results is one. And Brands must put in research methodologies to identify the source of leads as well.
8) Blogger agencies streamlining processes
I would say that working with blogger agencies would help clients streamline a lot of marketing work and processes. A Blogger agency typically has a certain system on how to work with bloggers, the different schemes, and work processes ironed out. Bloggers who are signed on with agencies typically adhere to certain regulations and would not stray away from the norms. Clients should feel guaranteed that the digital engagement is a safe and professional one with no chances of going awfully viral. Blogger agencies also add value by translating clients’ objectives to something that is more fun and blogger friendly. Clients who are trying to engage bloggers independently might face problems relating to discipline, communications or negative/wrong interpretation of campaign objectives.
9) Bloggers value add on social media spaces
Nowadays, it is not enough to just have a blog. Bloggers are also gaining popularity on their social media spaces like Facebook, Instagram or Google plus. When clients engage bloggers, they are not just buying into their blog, but also digital spaces like Facebook Personal Profile, Fan Page and Instagram. These are additional value add which a blogger is trained to give to clients. Think editorial support when you buy into traditional advertising space.
10) Blogger reviews are gaining traction
This point is slightly similar to the first point, which is the fact that consumers trust word of mouth advertising. I think especially for Singapore, Singaporeans are increasingly seeking valuable information that will guide and fast track their searching process. Consumers want a tried and tested, safer route, which allow them to guarantee a good experience especially after a hard week at work. They desire no room for mistakes, especially if they want to de-stress or enjoy a good evening out. With this backdrop, blogger reviews are gaining its importance and traction, as more people are Googling for information and reading blogs to guide them on their behaviour and action.
11) Permanence in digital spaces
I think this is extremely crucial as digital work/ blogger engagement leaves permanent traces on the online sphere. While TV and Print have a shelf life, once you missed it, the advertising is gone. The return of investment diminishes as the campaign progresses. Conversely, the returns for blogger reviews increase as they stay on the Internet forever.
12) Engaging bloggers are extremely cost effective
The cost of traditional advertising is exorbitant, especially on print, TV and outdoor. Marketers have to pay huge sums for the creative production cost and media space. The entire campaign takes few weeks or months to prepare and execute. Sometimes the industry moves so fast it leaves little time for marketing reaction. Going digital or engaging bloggers not only allow you to save cost on marketing, but allow you to achieve your marketing objectives with a shorter turn around time-frame and also lesser budget. Your net profit will improve as a result. Typically engaging bloggers from an agency in Singapore costs you $2k to 10k to reach out to perhaps 10-30 bloggers (reach of close to 900,000). Advertising on print and TV will cost you more than $100k (typically the reach of newspaper say Straits Times is close to 1++ mil).
Dennis Toh is the founder of TIN, an integrated Social Media Marketing, PR and Media Agency. Dennis Toh is also a University Associate with Curtin University teaching Internet Marketing. He is also a co-founder of Feet Haven Reflexology, a boutique foot reflex brand (FeetHaven.com) that has used bloggers extensively to increase its sales and market share.
Looking for a Blogger?
Interested clients who are keen to hire ME (or other influencers, I have friends) can write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Carolyn will gladly be of your assistance (till I find a nice agency to properly work with, but I’ll drag her along with me).