Forrester Research highlights the growing importance of bloggers in influencing consumer behavior in a new report advising businesses on How to Connect With Bloggers.
Forrester analyst Peter Kim notes that “Marketers no longer dismiss blogs as irrelevant ramblings of pajama-clad geeks. Brands such as OﬃceMax and Unilever’s Dove have experienced business lift generated by online chatter.1 On the opposite end of the spectrum, some brands, including Dell and Wal-Mart, have felt the sting of negative blog sentiment.”
Kim says marketers need to formulate a strategy to connect with bloggers because:
- Consumers trust individual opinions over mass advertising.
- Bloggers talk more than their peers about products and purchases.
- Bloggers — especially youth — have money to burn.
Brands desiring to build relationships with bloggers must create personal connections through interpersonal communications — the exact opposite of “one size ﬁts all” mass media techniques used to build brands for the past two centuries, Kim says.
Making personal connections requires that marketers understand blogger motivations, which can lead to successful participation in a digital dialogue.
Kim recommends marketers who intend to connect with bloggers must implement tactical guidelines to guide their outreach strategy.
These “rules of blogger engagement” will help individuals know how to represent their brand transparently and accurately, he says. “The rules should be accompanied by plenty of examples to illustrate the practices in action.” A good blogger outreach policy should answer the following key questions about engagement:
- Who is permitted to “oﬃcially” represent our brand?
- What if bloggers don’t want to hear from me?
- How do I deal with conﬂict?