Quality Vs. Quantity: Why Mass Media Approaches Don’t Fly in the Blogosphere

May 10, 2011

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According to eMarketer, marketers perceive blogs to have the highest value of any social media in driving site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation and sales, as well as improving customer service. So why, pray tell, do marketers approach Online Editorial Outreach (OEO), also known as blogger outreach, as a one-size-fits-all tactic?

Perhaps it's a lack of understanding of the consumer-generated media space. It is important for marketers to know the blogosphere inside and out, up and down. What is changing? What is and is not working? What do bloggers want and how can we align those wants with a brand's needs? As my dad always says, “Measure twice, cut once.”  So, in terms of OEO, research ‘til you know it's right…then pitch!

We've all seen the “what-not-to-dos.” A marketer starts his/her OEO pitch with “Dear [Insert Blogger Name].” Or, the media relations genius who pitched their client's beef promotion to a vegetarian blog…nice job folks. Thanks for giving folks who do care a black mark.

After working through campaigns for clients large and small, we've developed a simple equation for delivering thoughtful and effective OEO:

This approach not only simplifies planning; it also can be a life-saver when explaining this not-so-exact science to the puzzled decision maker.

For example, a client asks, “Why aren't we reaching out to the most highly trafficked blog (according to Technorati) with this pitch?” Using the formula above, we can confidently reply, “Um, because that blogger only writes about celebrity gossip and you are a lawn and garden company – high reach, but low relevance.” Only after you've established a contextual “fit” between the blog and your pitch does reach, i.e., unique visitors, average page views, etc., come into play.  It's quality vs. quantity.

Who we pitch, or our consideration set, must be defined by topic – which blogs focus on content that aligns with our client's brand or story? If you were having an in-person conversation with the blogger or one of his or her readers, would they be genuinely interested in your product or service? Have you followed the blog long enough to know? And, what about tone – is the blogger's voice or style appropriate for your client's brand? Here's a tip: If you're promoting kids' toys and the high reach, highly relevant blogger dropped the “F” bomb in his last post; it's probably not a fit.

So how do you know you're doing it right? Well, there is no greater compliment than when you see a post, or better yet receive the following direct note from a blogger you respect:

“[Insert Client Name] really gets it.”

Why do you care? Because, that confirmation is the start of an actual relationship that's destined to benefit both the brand and the blogger for quite some time.