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Four Steps to Understanding the Blogosphere

April 16, 2008
Maintaining your brands online requires recognizing the influence of new media constituencies.

Although Johnson & Johnson moved quickly to smooth over its controversial decision to disinvite a number of influential bloggers to its Camp Baby event, the flare-up shows the need to treat influential new media constituencies with kid gloves, says industry consultant and Marketing Roadmaps blogger Susan Getgood. She lays out four steps to understanding, and winning over, this new market force.

  • Make A Sincere Commitment. The most important thing to remember when adding social media tools like blogging and social networks to your marketing or business plan is that the goal is to establish long-term relationships with your customers -- and that's what bloggers are: your customers. It's about the relationship over time, not overnight. Do you want a one-night stand, or a commitment? If you want a commitment, take the time to get to know them.
  • Do Your Homework. Since bloggers are your customers, you should have a pretty good idea of what matters to them, but don't simply rely on the mass media approaches you may have used in advertising and direct marketing -- demographic analysis, segmentation, "targeting," models of consumer behavior and so on. These tools aren't sufficient to build a relationship. Building a relationship with a blogger is much like making a friend. You don't make your friends based on their demographic profile; you make friends by getting to know them.
  • Susan Getgood, industry consultant and Marketing Roadmaps blogger Be Media-Savvy. Blogs aren't media vehicles. They are personal publishing platforms driven by the passions of the person or persons writing them. Your products only matter in as much as they connect with your customers' passions. Involve them in focus groups. Give them first looks at new products. Support the charities that matter to them. Find that intersection of your mutual interests -- where you both win. And then do it again. Build those relationships over time.
  • Be Transparent. When you reach out to a blogger, he or she is also part of a social network, of which the blog is one piece. Everybody e-mails everyone else. They are also on microblogging platforms like Twitter and social nets like Facebook. Nothing snowballs faster than bad news. If something does go wrong, whether it is with a product or a program, get out in front of it fast. Don't wait for other people to tell your story. Tell it yourself.
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