Last year I joined thousands of women (and a few brave men) for BlogHer ’11 in San Diego, CA. This was my second year attending as both a blogger and social media professional, which gives me a glimpse into what motivates and concerns bloggers and brands. For two days I attended sessions, mostly about bloggers working with brands–what to do, what not to do and what to expect as told from the perspective of bloggers, brands and PR execs who represent brands.
I walked away with three revelations:
1. There is a lot of confusion from brands and bloggers about how they should work together. Like an episode of Love Connection, trying to make a connection between the two parties can be painful to watch. They want to work together, but neither group seems particularly certain about what they should get out of the deal. It’s these details that seem to create the most confusion.
2. There is no one-size-fits-most approach to working with bloggers or brands. Ask five bloggers the same question about something like compensation and you’ll likely get five different answers. This lack of standardization is what makes word of mouth marketing and influencer outreach genuine, credible and incredibly confusing to brands and bloggers alike.
Brands are also guilty of the same inconsistencies. They want and expect different things, and often they don’t know what they should expect from bloggers or what to offer bloggers in exchange. There are some companies, such as Sway Group, LLC, that are trying to bridge the information gap and help bloggers and brands work together, almost like translating for people who speak different languages.
3. Each group could benefit from learning a little more about the folks on the other side of the proverbial aisle. While we aren’t talking right wing versus left, there is clearly some bad blood between bloggers and brands born out of lack of understanding. Conferences like BlogHer, Blogging While Brown and cross-overs–bloggers who understand business and business people who blog–help to educate both bloggers and brands about how to work better together.
I’ve been to a few of these conferences and the questions remain the same, which means bloggers and brands need to keep reaching across the aisle, raising and answering these questions and educating one another. Brands and agencies should be building relationships with bloggers, reading their blogs and learning who they are, what they write about and what makes them special. Bloggers need to start or continue to make connections to people at brands and agencies so they know who to contact with a potential program or post idea or simply to get a gut check about working with brands.
That’s all for now. Keep writing and reading blogs, and play nice kids.
For more information about digital and social media strategy follow @JenPolk1 on Twitter.