Corporate Blogging Survey 2005

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December 27, 2005

Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign III

Mike Slocombe of the writes in his blog post, "Nokia Targets Bloggers For N90 Handset Launch," Mike gives a good overview of the Nokia Blogger Relations campaign, but also thinks that such ‘blogger relations’ campaigns are an attempt by companies to influence what is said about their products. I quote Mike, "Try as we might, us cynical folks at Digital Lifestyles couldn't shake off a nagging suspicion that the marketing world's new-found enthusiasm for blogs is more about trying to control and coerce what's been written about their products in the blogosphere.

With the explosive growth in blogging - and the increased prominence of blog entries in search engine results - companies are keen to try and manage what's been said about their products, and we see that Blogger Relations Blog could be the start of a slippery slope, with influential blogs being targeted by marketing campaigns.

Companies who follow this type of idea had better take care as they're walking on a tightrope. Bloggers are a canny bunch, and if they feel like they're getting played - they're going to make a whole lot of noise, jumping up and down, screaming about it. Not a pretty sight and definitely not what your brand needs. "

If Mike is right, we each have to ask ourselves if it is okay for a company to set up a blog to actively influence the online discussion about a company's products.

I've reviewed a number of blog posts about the Nokia blogger relations campaign, and from them I'd say that Nokia fully understands that if they attempted control the online discussion about the company, bloggers would not respond well to such a campaign, and rather than receive a positive response from bloggers, Nokia would receive much criticism.

I think Mike is correct in cautioning companies to walk carefully when running a blogger relations campaign, but I wonder just how different is the Nokia campaign to a product review campaign to traditional journalists? Companies often provide products for free to review to journalists with the option to return the phones by shipping companies. It seems to me that Nokia is attempting to influence bloggers by sending them free products to review, but I'd suggest that Nokia is also respecting the blogger's right to freely describe the products, positively or negatively. Nokia takes a risk, one that can easily backfire if the product does not match up to standards.

That was one reason why I was curious if all of the bloggers on the list of bloggers who would receive the phone for free actually had much of a track record in reviewing cell phones. I thought that those that have little experience would be more likely to give a positive review, and those that do review a lot of products will give a balanced assessment of the phone as they have more experience in comparing cell phones. Those who blog about the phone and who don't usually discuss telephones at all may not add all that much to the conversation and search engine rankings of Nokia, as they don't have a lot of content devoted to cell phones, while those who do regularly write about cell phones will have more credibility to lose if they give a biased review of the phone because they received the product for free. I blogged about this issue in my post, "Nokia blogger Relations Campaign II."

Mike, you caution Nokia and other companies, I think you are right to do that, but I also suggest that you caution bloggers, especially those who don't typically cover a product to consider their position with their audience. Credibility is a hard won position in the blogosphere; I don't think many bloggers wish to lose their credibility over the sake of a single product.

I believe it is okay for a company to set up a blog in order to enter into the online discussion about their industry and even products, to me its imperative that companies do so, if they wish to remain relevant to their customers and audience in the new world of web 2.0. There's a difference between setting up a blog for promotional purposes solely; and setting up a blog to actively enter into a dialogue. In these early days of corporate blogging, Nokia is one of only a few examples of a blogger promotional campaign, and so their campaign has a big impact in the online discussion about corporate blogging. I suspect that in a few years such programs will have less effect on generalist bloggers compared to gadget bloggers.

The reality is that unless your company is actively engaged in a dialogue, bloggers will either ignore you or worse pillar a company's corporate blogging efforts, therefore if a company wishes to run truly successful blogger relations campaigns the company will have to develop a dialogue with consumers in the online conversation.

Posted by johncass at December 27, 2005 12:50 PM

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» Reviewing the Nokia N90 Blog V from Backbone Blogging Survey
Nokia is running a blogger relations campaign for the cell phone N90, as part of the campaign, Nokia is sending 50 N90 cell phones to bloggers to review the product. The reason for the outreach program to bloggers is that... [Read More]

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