Last night I spent the evening in a room full of very experienced social media people. Directors, consultants, ad & marketing execs, etc. The theme of the evening was how to use social media in promoting retail during the holidays. I’m pretty sure I was one of a handful of bloggers in the room. My goal in attending was to learn how I might better help brands and businesses to implement their advertising strategies via social media. While I certainly found the conversation interesting and helpful in a variety of ways, I sat there a little dumbstruck that not one person on the panel was mentioning the blogger relationship.
Behind the panel, on a large screen, was a constant live twitter feed so the room (and people who weren’t able to attend) could see what was going on. Suddenly, tweets start popping up asking the panel members how they feel about working with bloggers. Looking at the source of the tweet, I at once recognized it was my friend Ana Lydia Monaco… and the person who happened to be sitting right next to me. At first, the tweets went unmentioned. Then, a few people chimed in with “we love bloggers” as a response.
The panel conversation moved forward with talk of the value of user generated content (UGC), a term I had never really heard before. The panel loved how customers would take Instagram pictures wearing certain clothing or shoes, or write up reviews of products on the company’s website. They mentioned the Facebook followers and twitter followers and how great they were in helping to spread the word about the brand. Hmmmm…. interesting.
One of the panel members mentioned that during the upcoming holidays they were planning a party where they would invited some of the bloggers they know… as a kind of “thank you” for all the work they do spreading the word about the company. Wow… a party!
Another panel member talked about giving out discount coupons or free products in exchange for a blog post and some tweets. We all know about that, don’t we?
What I was really waiting for was for one of the panel to jump in about how valuable they found actually paying bloggers. I could have waited all night.
While I appreciate the fact that these professional social media people talk positively about bloggers, I think it’s time they put their MONEY where their mouths are. It’s time to stand up and show a blogger’s value where it is most measurable… in the pocketbook.
Now, I am not condoning payment for simple reviews. I honestly believe that if a company is going to send me a product to review, that review should be unpaid and completely authentic. But… once a company requests (demands) that you include specific wording, links, or stock photos… that, my friends, is a post that should be coming with a fee attached to it. It is no longer an objective review, it is an advertisement.
I did a little research. Do you know what companies actually PAY for advertising?
Newspaper Ad: Depending upon the actual size and placement of the ad, the costs can run from $1,000 on up per week.
Television Ad: For a basic 30-second commercial shown during prime time TV watching, prices range from $250,000 on up.
Radio Ad: For local radio shows, prices might run around $100 for a series of spots. For larger stations, that price will go up quite a bit.
Magazine Ad: Each magazine is different, but on average you can expect to pay between $1,000 – $5,000 per month.
The cost of paying a blogger to write up a post about your company and project that out to their entire social media fan base can run from $50 – $200. Some bloggers will do it for free (exposure) and some won’t do it for less than $500 (Really????). Still… that seems a small price to pay for reaching thousands and thousands of consumers.
So what’s the real problem? I believe it’s the fact that while a few select companies recognize the value of bloggers, most companies STILL aren’t on board the blogging-as-a-business train. The fact that there are way too many bloggers willing to work for free, or for coupons, lends to the belief that all bloggers must be created equal. We are NOT. Anybody can throw up a blog post with the copy of a press release or some facts that have been emailed to them. That doesn’t make a blogger a “writer”. And, simply having a Facebook and Twitter account doesn’t make someone a social media expert.
Best quote of the night. “Just because you know the tool doesn’t mean you know how to do #socialmedia.” Thank you SMCLA.
While I believe this wholeheartedly, I do think there is also an attitude that goes along with it. An attitude that puts social media people first and bloggers second. A social media person would never work for free. They would never accept a job of promoting their brand/company in exchange for a few samples or coupons. Yes, that is exactly what most of them are passing along to the bloggers. When a blogger writes about your brand and then tweets, Facebooks and Instagrams the hell out of it… they are doing someone else’s job. A job that someone else gets PAID to do. No money in the budget for a blogger? Bloggers SHOULD always be included in your advertising budget.
Yes… bloggers are NOT social media people. But that doesn’t mean that the really good ones sometime know more about how to run a campaign than the SM people themselves. We’ve been around the block a time or two. We’ve seen firsthand how PR and SM people can totally blow it for a brand. The future of marketing and advertising is going digital. Digital includes bloggers. You can either get on board now or sit with your newspapers and magazines and wonder why your numbers aren’t going up.
Maybe the next time you are sitting around your board room discussing how great it is that you have customer generated content pouring into your social media sites, you’ll think about exactly WHO those people really are. Yes, they are customers. But more than likely, they are bloggers. I asked my husband a really simply question. “When you purchase something online, do you go back and leave a review of it?” His answer was a simple, “No.” Why doesn’t he? Because all he wants to do is buy the item he wants and not think about it anymore. Would he ever upload a photo of himself in his cool new shirt or shoes? Would he tweet to a restaurant about what a great meal he just had? Never. And neither would most other people. But… the blogger sure would. Think bloggers don’t drive social media… think again.