Marketing through the blogosphere - March 25, 2004—
I have been paying a lot of attention to the way some companies use the blogosphere to promote themselves, do damage control, keep connected with their customers, and generally stay in the public eye. Most companies have stuck with the safe-but-still-edgy format of creating their own blog, per product or per key employee, in which they discuss new software releases, industry news, and other information they deem pertinent. It's the rare company that goes outside the press release territory with a blog hosted on their own website. Those that go outside the lines are the little guys; companies run by one person, or a few people, funded out of their own pocket, kept alive by Google ads, donations and the occasional Cafe Press t-shirt.
Journalists and the companies that employ them have embraced blogs in a big way, using them as a forum for entertaining ideas that don't yet fit into a publishable column or article, soliciting feedback from potential sources, and engaging the reader. It is an intelligent way to keep a reader involved in the journalistic process (and therefore keep those eyes tuned into the marketers' messages and keep the ad dollars flowing in). Intelligent, but not brilliant, exactly. Dave Barry has a hugely popular blog, for instance, in which the funny man makes cryptic statements about news items with links attached. I'm sure he occasionally uses the comments in his columns. And lots of people are reading, and I'm sure, laughing. The blog recently migrated to a Miami Herald-hosted site, and I would love to know what the Herald hopes to get from it.>
Google ads and blogads are the obvious next stop on the blog marketing journey. They are simple, straightforward, and targeted with amazing specificity. They provide needed operating capital to lots of major bloggers. For marketers, they provide a direct connection between the Influential and the Masses - instantaneous message spreading.
The real progressive uses of blogs for marketing go several steps further, vigilantly covering the blogosphere, searching for every mention of the company or competitors. Plaxo's marketers respond to critics of their product immediately in the comments section, politely countering the arguments and offering solutions to fixable problems. RSS prophets use their own blogs as uber-marketing tools, fiercely defending their selected protocol, getting people involved through plentiful trackbacks and other article links, starting blog arguments, creating readership through force of personality and then using that power to plug their products on a daily basis. Dave Winer, love him or hate him, has demonstrated a brilliant method of getting attention and users through overwhelming propaganda.
more to come ...