Posts Tagged ‘blogs’

Liable for Bloggers’ Claims

October 7th, 2009

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday published the final version of its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. These new rules will govern how companies can use consumer, expert and organizational endorsements to make claims about products.

There are many important updates, which become effective Dec. 1. MarketingSherpa is working on an article describing the changes that marketers need to know. In the meantime, I want to point out one change that should concern anyone who sends free products to bloggers to generate buzz.

If a blogger writes a positive review of a product that you sent free-of-charge, that post may be considered an “endorsement.” It depends on the value of the product and whether the blogger routinely receives such requests.

“If the blogger frequently receives products from manufacturers because he or she is known to have wide readership within a particular demographic group…the blogger’s statements are likely to be deemed to be ‘endorsements,’” according to the guidelines.

“Similarly, consumers who join word-of-mouth marketing programs that periodically provide them products to review publicly (as opposed to simply giving feedback to the advertiser) will also likely be viewed as giving sponsored messages.”

Now here’s the kicker: if the post is deemed an “endorsement” and the blogger writes false claims into the review, the blogger and the advertiser are liable for the misleading statements.

So if you, a phone manufacturer, send a free phone to a popular tech blogger who writes a positive review that the phone also makes a fantastic life raft — you are liable for that claim.

The guidelines suggest that advertisers who send free products to bloggers (directly or through a service) make sure that they provide guidance to ensure that the bloggers’ statements are truthful and substantiated.

“The advertiser should also monitor bloggers who are being paid to promote its products and take steps necessary to halt the continued publication of deceptive representations when they are discovered,” according to the guidelines.

So if you are sending out free products to bloggers, your job might be more difficult after Dec. 1. Stay tuned for more info as MarketingSherpa digs into the details.

Start a Company Blog?

June 3rd, 2009

A company blog can be a great way to build brand, credibility and site traffic–but blogging is often more work than first expected. And positive results rarely come quickly. The benefits gradually build as you toil through post after post.

Also, there are blogs on topics from fruit to adhesives, and there are likely a couple that relate to your business. That means a new blog would have to compete. However, you don’t have to compete with blogs to enter the blogosphere, says Jay Krall, Internet Media Research Manager, Cision.

“Too many times, I think, people fall into the trap of thinking that they need to start a blog, when in fact they would do much better to take six months to engage heavily with the blogs in their space,” Krall says. “I don’t want to discourage people from writing a blog, but you have to listen first. You have to take some time to make sure that you understand what’s already being said in that space.”

If you’re thinking of starting a blog for business reasons, consider the opportunity costs of the time you’ll have to invest. Would that time be better invested elsewhere? You might get better, faster results (in the shorter term) by doing blogger outreach.

Market Research via Social Media

April 17th, 2009

Consumers are expressing themselves in thousands of ways online, including in videos, images, forums, and blogs. The diary-like style of blogs can offer unique insight into a person’s life and opinions. And, since they’re written in text, blogs can be more easily aggregated and mined for insights than other media, such as video.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Janet Eden-Harris, VP of Web Intelligence, J.D. Power and Associates, on this topic. Eden-Harris works in a division of the market research firm that is responsible for mining social media for market insights. Information gathered this way can, at times, be more valuable than a survey, she says.

“People go to their blogs, to message boards, chat rooms, and forums, really, to talk to one another. And they talk spontaneously about products, services, and their lives… You’re not prejudicing them by asking a question. You are listening in, or overhearing conversations that are taking place spontaneously.”

Well-read bloggers also tend be very passionate and knowledgeable about a specific topic, she says. “These are the people that you very likely want to listen to most because they are more or less your thought leaders and opinion leaders.”

Eden-Harris and her team gather data from publicly available social media sites across the Web. They do not gather information from any sources that require a password, such as Facebook. Other social media sites, such as MySpace, do not always require a password. The team is not concerned with the gathering information about specific bloggers, she says. Instead, they are concerned with their topics and opinions.

“Essentially what we’re doing is collecting [this information] into a database, and we mine millions of posts every week and continually mine them,” she says. “It goes beyond demographics. It goes into what motivations do people have for buying or using a product or responding to a trend.”

Her team uses Natural Language Processing, a branch of computer science, to scan the posts for insights. NLP can be used to analyze text for subject matter, sentiment, and assumptions about a person’s background, such as sex and age. By scanning millions of posts, the team can uncover who is saying what about products and companies, and create reports.

Types of Reports

There are four main categories of information that companies ask J.D. Power to research that can involve mining social media, Eden-Harris says. They are:

1. Brand monitoring – This is the most common type. Marketers want to know what consumers are saying about their companies and their competitors. Marketers could survey their own customers, but it is much more difficult to survey their competitors’ customers themselves.

2. Trend analysis – Marketers also ask for analysis on the current trends in a market, and where the market is heading. It can be difficult to pick up on trends in surveys, but you can often pick up on them through blog and social media research, Eden-Harris says.

3. Customer information – Marketers also ask for more information about their current and potential customers. Blogs provide particular insight in this category since many consumers will identify themselves as a customer in one post, and talk about their personal lives in other posts. The posts can also provide information on the best language to use when communicating to customers.

4. Unmet needs – it is also possible to collect information about what products consumers wish they had. “Consumers are classically not particularly good at coming up with product innovations, but, boy, are we good at saying what annoys us and what we wish we had,” Eden-Harris says.

Monitor Web Traffic to Gauge Impact of Social Media Efforts

December 8th, 2008

Even though more B2B marketers consider a role for social media in their marketing strategy, I still hear them express confusion about measuring the impact of creating blogs or participating in social networks. Typical questions:

How do you measure engagement? What’s the value of one Twitter follower? What’s the direct ROI of that blog post you wrote?

Read more…

Real Estate Marketing Tip: Community Blogs

July 15th, 2008

Realtors are facing tough times, but they’re not giving up. Some are discovering innovative ways to market themselves and their properties. Read more…

How To Track Leads from Real Estate Blogs

July 9th, 2008

The ways to market real estate online seem endless. Blogging is a major part of the equation among the successful online real estate marketers I spoke to for a MarketingSherpa special report on the topic.

What I found, though, is that these marketers face major challenges when it comes to tracking the number of leads coming from blogs. Unless a Web visitor offers an email address to receive more content, there is little real estate marketers can do besides waiting for leads to call and asking how they found them. Read more…