There seems to be a rising interest in bloggers and blog events. As a marketing manager, how can I utilize bloggers in order to gain awareness for my brand? What else can we do with them?

Blogging is about a proactive consumer's experience with a brand. Good or bad, collective consumer perspective influences others. This is why brands need to be sensitive, if not, jump into the world of blogosphere and social media marketing where a rush of everyday brand conversations happens in a split second. It gives you room to get immediate feedback, promote new products and on some occasions, address a company crisis.

First thing to do when one decides to engage in the world of blogging is simply to have a good product. Bloggers write about their experiences with your brand, so make sure they have something good to write about. It goes without saying if you have a faulty product, no amount of PR can influence bloggers to write otherwise. On the other hand, if you have a strong product, bloggers can be one of your strongest brand advocates.

Bloggers are passionate about what they write about. They create more than one entry on a given subject, with a slew of photographs, links from their microblogs and social networks all leading to a greater buzz on the net. By simply holding an interesting and engaging blog event, you are sure to generate a lot of noise before, during and post event. In my experience, however, I have heard of more stories regarding blog events that fail rather than succeed.

In order to increase your batting average for conducting a successful blog event, here is a step-by-step guide in organizing one.
Situational analysis. Identify first where you stand in online conversations. What people say and how they perceive your brand are important start-off points on how you establish a baseline for your online reputation.

Identify objectives. Once you know where you stand, answer why you want to engage bloggers. Would you like to boost awareness or correct a negative feedback? It is crucial to be careful in setting your performance metrics.

Identify relevant bloggers. There are thousands of bloggers in the country. You must identify who are the most effective bloggers who can influence your target audience. Some bloggers have substantial Google search rankings and have a huge following. However, there are other criteria for choosing bloggers for an event, like their interests. For example, if you run a restaurant, focus on getting bloggers who write about food.

Execution plan. A blog event should be creative and unique. An event must be able to inform and engage bloggers for differentiation as more and more blog events are organized every week. Take note that the creative idea is the most important cornerstone of your blog event. The key word of a blog event is event, meaning it is not like a press conference, but more like mounting an experience that would engage and tickle the minds of the bloggers.

Measurement and analysis. Go back to your objective and check whether your metrics were achieved, such as a 50% increase in sales, positive from negative rating, or higher number of views and subscribers for your Web site or fan page.

Some companies offer bloggers certain perks and privileges. Take, for instance, an airline company. They offer a select number of bloggers regular free flights to any point in the Philippines anytime. They get media mileage by mentions in the blog entries.

Certain companies have made bloggers the face of certain products such as the Nokia Ovi, which came out in various print ads. It must be stressed that these bloggers really have to believe in your product. They have a certain sense of pride and integrity, as well as responsibility to their readers. The ultimate goal is to convert a blogger into a believer, to make them an ambassador of your brand.

Donald Lim is the chief e-marketing strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc. (www.mansmith.net), the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines. He is also the CEO of Yehey Corp.


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