What goes around comes around, and sometimes it comes around fast enough to make your head spin. Remember when everyone was spelling the death of blogging because “no one reads long-form content anymore”? Cut to 2014 it just sounds quaint.
Bloggers (and yes, vloggers are bloggers too), are now online celebrities, with the ability to endorse a brand or a new product with a single review or an appreciative tweet.
Conversely, bloggers can also break a brand, so no wonder they are being courted by brands to provide their stamp of approval on everything from leather pants to kids’ parks. They are the superstar critics of the new era, only better, because they are independent (mostly), friendly and talk directly to their audience. To put it simply, people trust them more than they trust your brand ads, no matter how slick they are.
Every month, more than 14 million people read up on what celebrity blogger Perez Hilton has to say. In Singapore, blogger Wendy Cheng, “Xiaxue” to her fans, gets more than 40,000 visitors a day. While not everyone commands that kind of following, there are celebrity bloggers in every conceivable niche, especially in developed markets. It is up to brands now to tailor their content strategy accordingly and involve these bloggers and influencers the best way they can.
Of course, in addition to involving celebrity bloggers, brands need to get into the blogging themselves as well. If the popularity of Tumblr is anything to go by, it’s that people love to read longer-form content, provided it is informative, powerful, entertaining and unique.
Its not an easy task for brands to provide holistic and unbiased opinions but those who have done this well, have been able to break away from the mold of being a brand voice, to an industry voice. IBM is one of the oldest case studies in this space. Some key pointers here would be:
1) Leave the marcomm home.
2) Humor, wit, genuine feedback, warmth, a cup of coffee…all adds up.
3) Go in-depth.
4) Don’t worry about the warts
5) Talk behind the scenes.
6) Give, before you receive.
Of course a lot more can be done. But the above is good to get you started if you are new in the blog world. It’s here to stay.