A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I believe (most) brand-side folks are less networked than their agency peers. Pretty sure that post ruffled a few feathers among my brand-side friends (but, as I said in the post, there are exceptions–and I know a lot of those people!). And, that’s OK. Because it reminds me of a mantra, I learned early on in the blogging world.
“You’re not a blogger until you’ve offended someone.”
Wait, Arik, why would you want to offend people? And in this particular case, why would you want to offend brand-side folks? Aren’t those your clients? Yes, they are. And no, I don’t mind offending a few of them. Here’s how I think about this because I think it applies to many of you who might be reading this blog (and might not be bloggers). I kind of think about it as a talk radio host. I listen to many KFAN (for those not in the Twin Cities, that’s our primary sports talk radio channel). One of the shows on that channel is “Nine to Noon”–a program hosted by the Vikings voice, Paul Allen. On that show, he talks about this issue all the time–that if you’re going to be a talk show host, you have to have a strong opinion to be successful.
Strong opinions are what sells when it comes to talking radio.
Blogging is no different. In my experience, playing the middle of the road when blogging will get you very little attention and readers. Now, I’ve talked before about my MO for this blog, and it has never included “getting a bunch of readers” or “being an internet celebrity.” From the beginning, I’ve blogged for two reasons: 1) To express my opinions in a forum where I can share what I want when I want, and 2) To support my business as a consultant.
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Webcast, June 21st: 5 Keys to Operational Excellence. Having strong opinions on “controversial” or timely topics hits on both of those reasons. Over the last 8-plus years of blogging, having strong opinions has positioned me well as a consultant who’s not afraid to tell clients news they might not want to hear (but need to).
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Having strong opinions has positioned me as someone who’s not afraid to take a stand. And none of those things are bad. Yes, I realize not everyone is going to agree with me all the time. It’s the same situation as that moment (typically when you’re in your teens or early college years) when you first realize not everyone is going to like you–and that’s OK. Not everyone is going to agree with my opinions on PR, social media, and marketing-related topics. And I think that’s OK.
The difference of opinion is big. It challenges us to think differently. And if others have a big problem with that–to the point where they don’t want to work with me–so be it. Most likely, we wouldn’t be a fit anyway.
How does this all tie back to you?
Having a strong opinion obviously isn’t something specific to bloggers. We all have strong opinions. Some of us blog about them. Others share them on Facebook. Others share them at dinners, or t-ball games, or church. My advice: Don’t back off your opinions. Have strong opinions and stick to them. Not everyone is going to agree with you–but that’s OK. Because in the end, I think more people respect those with strong opinions who stick by them when times are tough than people who play the middle of the road and never take a risk at all.
Exposure and Awareness
Since Blogger outreach is more than food reviews, I need to talk first about the potential for exposure and awareness. Remember this: no matter how small you are, you can seem huge when you learn how to maximize the Internet. Whether you seek 100 positive reviews or seek to put your banner ad on 100 blogs, or seek to connect with 100 prolific food bloggers personally, you will dramatically increase your exposure and awareness using blogger outreach.
Take the 100 blogger number, and then multiply it by 100, which can be used to represent their readership. No one really knows what the average readership is of a food blog, but let’s go with 100 since it’s just as likely to be more than 100 as it is to be less. Readership, in the way I’m using it here, means visits PER DAY. I’m not talking about subscribers here or social media followers. I’m talking about people who actually go and read something on that blog every day. You should now be able to imagine how powerful blogger outreach can be for exposure. If no one has ever heard of your product before, they certainly will after successful blogger outreach.
Reach is the real, actual number of times someone will come in contact with your brand as a result of blogger outreach. First, consider the number of bloggers you reach out to. Try to make it 100. That’s huge, and it’s okay that it seems grand. The more, the better. Remember, Technorati lists over 15,000 food blogs. Surely you can make contact with 100 of them. Second, consider the number of people who will see that blog post into Internet eternity. See, a blog post lives on long after it is published, usually. Years, even. Blogs are not like newspapers. Their “news” isn’t really news most of the time, and most food-related posts are evergreen. If someone goes looking for your product three years after a blogger writes about it, he or she may happen upon that blog entry, read the review, and decide then and there that the product is worth trying.
Third, consider the number of people who will go on to write about your brand after seeing someone else do it. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but many bloggers are copycats. They quickly pick up on trending topics and scurry off to write about them on their own blogs. Many food bloggers will notice another blogger writing about a giveaway or promotion and then rush to contact the brand so that they can get in on it, too. Put all three of those numbers together and what you get is some exponential factor. The point is that you cannot possibly know how big the effect of your blogger outreach can be. What you do now know is that you cannot afford to miss out.