Reviewing the Nokia N90 Blog V
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 Nokia would rather bloggers actually use and experience the cell phone rather than pass on someone else’s review of the telephone. Nokia also provides a free return address shipping pack to the bloggers for when they have finished reviewing the product.
Andy Abramson, Nokia’s blogging consultant is managing the campaign for Nokia, interestingly Andy has a very strong technology background and runs a well-known VoIP blog. Typically I’d recommend a client has an employee manage and write on their blog, but as Andy runs a blog and specifically a technology blog, I think Andy’s background adds a lot of credibility to the campaign.
Andy Abramson is doing a great job of outreach and response to the Nokia blogger relations program. Every time a blogger reviews the N90 product Andy thanks the blogger for the mention in a reader comment post on the blogger’s blog, answers any questions they might have, and typically links back to them on the N90 blog, whether the feedback is negative or positive.
The N90 blog has received some criticism, mainly from bloggers who perceive the blog to be clueless and merely a site for promoting the Nokia press releases. I describe some of the criticism from B.L. Ochman in my post, "Nokia Blogger relations campaign IV", and Noblizer in my post, "Nokia Blogger Relations Campaign I".
I personally disagree with the critics on their characterization of the blog being clueless. Though I do see their point about the blog’s content strategy. When you search through each archived month of the blog, starting in April of 2005, the posts were basically a series of press releases and corporate communications articles until November of 2005. However, I understand from a comment from Andy Abramson that the blog only went live to the public in November of 2005. Once the blogger relations program launched and took off, the blog took on an entirely different character. Since November I think I can say that Andy Abramson has successfully combated any criticism by responding in comments on the blogger’s blog, and also linking back to posts from the N90 blog. Andy is completely transparent, whether its good or bad perspectives, he listens to them, considers and responds on the N90 blog, with links even to his fiercest critics.
While the blog has definitely been successful with the initial wave of product reviews, it is interesting to consider how at first the blog languished without many good posts or conversations on the web. That maybe because of the launch in November, though the archive goes back to April of 2005. One other weakness is that there are few links to non N90 related posts, so frankly the blog’s content is more of a catalog of the blogger relations program rather than a blog that has a content strategy targeting a particular audience that will start and continue a dialogue to the audience over time.
This is actually how this blog Blogsurvey started, Backbone Media was conducting the Backbone Media Corporate Blogging Survey and it made sense to run a blog to handle the queries and questions about the survey. Once the survey was finished we developed content around the subjects of corporate blogging, SEO and blogger relations. From that experience I can tell you that when you are in the middle of a launch you don’t have much time to write much content beyond the updates on how the program is running. I think the blog is most interesting to industry watchers who are attempting to understand how to run a successful blog campaign; I don’t think the blog provides as much value to an audience who wishes to purchase the telephone, though the list of blog posts to reviews, good or bad will probably help a buyer get a good overview of the product.
A suggestion to Andy and Nokia for the future would be to develop the blog more along the lines of the Stonyfield farms blog. Stonyfield sells yogurt, not a particularly inspiring topic of conversation, as Yogurt is a fermented milk product in which a mixed culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus (or occasionally L. acidophilus) and Streptococcus thermophilus produce lactic acid during fermentation of lactose. Probably the one audience who would be interested in yogurt is diary farmers, but that’s not Stonyfield’s audience, so instead of targeting farmers for their blogging strategy. Stonyfield has four blogs targeting the parents of babies and children, women and organic farming, the Stonyfield bloggers write about topics that would be of interest to people who are interested in those topics, and by association when audience members who are interested in those topics go to a store to buy yogurt, if they have recently read an article on a Stonyfield blog, they associate the Stonyfield yogurt with things they are interested in thereby the customer already has a relations and some trust with the Stonyfield brand, an important association when you are selling a fermented milk product.
With the Stonyfield example in mind I’d recommend Nokia build blogs that target the lifestyles of those people who are using the telephones; technology fanatics, travelers, (fermented milk product lovers, kidding) who ever Nokia thinks is a good target for their products. Talk about the product, but also talk about the lifestyle of the audience. Oh, lastly by running these types of Nokia blogs, the corporate bloggers can chat about the N90 and all the other cell phones manufactured by Nokia in the future.
Posted by johncass at December 29, 2005 10:37 AM
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Thanks for yet another critical look at the Nokia Blogger Relations Communications Program.
Let me make a few amplifications:
"Nokia is sending 50 N90 cell phones to bloggers to review the product."
Actually we are sending bloggers a series of 3 different Nseries phones. The N70's are next, to be followed by the N91s. The same bloggers may not always be included, based on a variety of criteria we have established. We also plan on recycling the N90s as they are returned to other bloggers who fall within the critera landscape we've developed.
I'm flattered by your comment here "nterestingly Andy has a very strong technology background and runs a well-known VoIP blog." Really my background is a lot less technical (I never had any engineering classes, I barely eeked by in Fortran class, and the one computer science class I had to fulfill a math requirement was a survey course called "Computers in Society." I think I understand and can explain technology well, especially as it becomes more more engrained in society, and less, technical only. That said, I do think being an active and respected blogger led to my understanding the bloggers needs better than most in the PR profession.
"I personally disagree with the critics on their characterization of the blog being clueless. Though I do see their point about the blog’s content strategy. When you search through each archived month of the blog, starting in April of 2005, the posts were basically a series of press releases and corporate communications articles until November of 2005.
The critics never asked or looked closely, like you did John. The materials that date back to April are the Press Materials. While some may suggest changing the date on a previously published release, we do not subscribe to that philosophy. Those files were added to the N90 press room when the site was assembled, which was in November for content. Your observation is right on the mark.
"A suggestion to Andy and Nokia for the future would be to develop the blog more along the lines of the Stonyfield farms blog." We plan on having a different blog for each handset, so I guess you're thinking the way we were when we planned this. We felt that each Nseries handset has a different type of audience, and as such we should make it easier, not harder, for consumers to know what's best for them.
With the Stonyfield example in mind I’d recommend Nokia build blogs that target the lifestyles of those people who are using the telephones; technology fanatics, travelers, (fermented milk product lovers, kidding) who ever Nokia thinks is a good target for their products. Talk about the product, but also talk about the lifestyle of the audience. Oh, lastly by running these types of Nokia blogs, the corporate bloggers can chat about the N90 and all the other cell phones manufactured by Nokia in the future."
Great idea...and one we hope we can implement.
Posted by: Andy Abramson at December 29, 2005 1:11 PM
Thanks Andy for the update on the program. I look forward to watching further how the Nokia blogger relations unfolds.
Posted by: John Cass at December 29, 2005 2:10 PM