Blogs are experiencing something of a second wave. As blogging becomes even more mainstream, it's given an increasing number of consumers a shot at global publishing power. For the online marketing world, understanding how to leverage these independent publishers as a means to carry a message -- whether it's ad placement or editorial coverage -- is critical.
By 2012, approximately 145 million people -- or 67 percent of the U.S. Internet population -- will be reading blogs at least once a month, according to a recent study by eMarketer. Here's what online marketers and advertisers need to know in order to manipulate, exploit, and influence this medium:
Understand the psyche of the social media consumer
Advertising on blogs can mean reaching highly engaged pockets of readers. However, advertisers need to think differently about the psychology of the social media user to ensure their approach is on point. Often times, blog readers are very passionate about the topics they are researching, and they are highly invested in what they are doing at that exact moment.
The potential pitfall? Distracting readers from the task at hand and annoying them in the process, which ultimately hurts your relationship with the blogger. If you’re going to place an ad on a blog, you are going to have to be smart about how you’re diverting reader attention. Make sure your ad is an extension of the conversation.
Don’t forget that social media is “social”
Today’s online media landscape is a vast network of socially connected content -- think of it as a footprint. The ability to understand how this footprint was generated and the relationships among all the different touch points is invaluable for guiding both an ad strategy and a PR-focused one.
Blogs shouldn’t be looked at as a static list of sites: They are platforms to host conversations. It’s your job to understand what those conversations are, who is leading them, and who is participating.
Define success upfront
It’s important to think about what success looks like before the start of every marketing campaign, especially in the social media space. Current measurement standards like clicks and page views are under fire as marketers are able to reach a whole new level of engagement with prospective customers.
For now, the best way to get around this issue is to think long and hard about what realistic examples of success look like for any campaign. Establish your ideal metric upfront, whether it's click-throughs, conversions, subscribers, or comment and pass-along velocity.
Authentic distraction techniques
Now that it's time to write your ad copy, there are a few rules you should follow. Don’t replicate creative used for traditional ad buys for your social media campaign. Also, ensure you are writing for a specific audience, not a general one. Work to leverage the language uncovered in the conversation footprint.
You can even ask trusted bloggers themselves for ideas on ad copy and test concepts out before launching a campaign. Posing questions or doing polls is another interesting tactic that helps draw the reader into the conversation around your brand.
Understanding social connections holds powerful promise for marketers. The granddaddies of the social media ecosystem -- blogs -- are here to stay. Blogs account for the “media” in social media. They generate the kind of hyper-connected ideas and memes that are drawing customers away from the portals and into the long tail. It appears content is still king indeed.
— Rob Crumpler, President and Chief Executive Officer of Buzzlogic