It used to be that a media platform was given only to a select few who had the credentials or connections to make it that far. With the birth and proliferation of the internet, anyone who can string two words together can have a blog that can be read (or ignored) around the world. Stories that made the papers or the airwaves were researched, fact-checked and approved before they reached the people. Now a Tweet can be heard around the world faster than you can find which remote turns on the TV.
While anyone (and their dog) can start a blog, it takes something more than just saying something to build a following, it’s about actually having something to say that people want to take the time to hear. It’s not about having the best photography equipment or top notch grammar, it’s communicating passion for a subject or presenting a unique perspective. Also important is the ability to create new content and keep the attention of today’s overstimulated masses.
If a blog somehow manages to gain, and keep, an audience it will only be a matter of time before big industry will try to co-opt its popularity by having the blogger mention, review or promote their product or service. Some bloggers are quite open about what they get for free or how they get compensated. Others refuse to accept anything for free or do paid endorsements. Many blogs host contests and give aways, some prizes are sponsored and others are purchased with ad revenue from the blog. Successful bloggers can also get book deals, sell t-shirts or accept “donations” to fund their blogging.
Big business wants to take advantage of these (potentially) low cost marketing opportunities. Some companies will target multiple bloggers with one promotion. Ralph Lauren’s Pink Pony Foundation invited 100 fashion bloggers to help them promote breast cancer awareness, as well as the 10th anniversary of the foundation, by posting images of themselves wearing the Pink Pony Polos in their individual styles. This guaranteed them a bare minimum of 100 blog posts and cost them only the price of the shirts.
A larger investment in the blogosphere was made by General Mills when they invited 50 food bloggers for their first Eat & Greet at their headquarters and test kitchens in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Baking blogger, Bakerella was there and her post about it linked to at least seven blogs of the other attendees. The bloggers come across as naive and overly impressed with the hoopla and they seem overwhelmed with the attention and swag that they receive.
What I find most interesting is how the community of bloggers is becoming more interconnected as the bloggers not only read and comment on each other blogs, but find and create opportunities to meet up in real life and even teach each other. Food blogger, My Tartelette, who is a very accomplished pastry chef, food stylist and photography (a blogging triple threat), has held baking and photography for fellow bloggers, which then get blogged about.
By reaching out to bloggers, with events, promotions and give aways, the two cents that a blogger shares with their readers about the company can turn into two dollars (or more) in the real world.