Back in 1999, when blogger.com started (Google acquired it in 2003), blogging was a small aspect of the online space in India. Little was foreseen about how it would become one of the biggest driving forces in customer engagement in the near future. Even now, compared to the overall size of the blogging community, the Indian base is small, but that doesn’t mean they have any less influence on their readers.
Bloggers like to express their views on what’s happening around them and what affects them the most. No wonder then that social issues such as corruption, launch of gadgets and gizmos, or even ad campaigns such as Pepsi’s ‘Youngistaan Ka WOW’ were written about by bloggers in great numbers. Bloggers, being publishers, need to have a good readership, and it also calls for good social networking skills, both online and offline.
Bloggers use their networking to publicise the content on various social platforms. This phenomenon has been used by brands to engage with bloggers — to influence the influencers.
Dove recently ran one of the biggest blogging contests in India where the total campaign reach was 3.7 million readers, making it one of the most successful campaigns worldwide. The contest was targeted towards women bloggers who had to blog about what real beauty meant to them. It saw participation from over 350 bloggers.
Another success story was that of Samsung India Mobile that did a campaign with technology bloggers in India. The contest had over 220 bloggers participate and share insights into the newly launched Galaxy Tab 750. This was followed up with a blogger meet in Bangalore attended by more than 200 bloggers to experience the product and get to know more about the brand and the company. Twenty winners got to be the official Samsung Mobilers, apart from winning the gadget in question.
Some of the other brands that have been engaging with bloggers include Akshaya Patra, a non-governmental organisation that is into midday meal schemes for children; Hewlett-Packard’s Imaging Printing group, Tata DOCOMO, Fiat, Cleartrip and a few more.
These brands have realised that it’s all about gaining mindshare with the influencers, and blogger communities are helping bridge the gap between the exclusive and often illusive set of bloggers and the brands.
However, it’s important to understand the difference between engaging and simply giving information. Some brands have made the cardinal mistake of considering bloggers journalists, and that’s where most companies languish at just trying to get a sustainable relationship with bloggers.
Bloggers love new information, but that does not mean you treat them as journalists. Bloggers love to network and that’s the first thing any engagement model needs to do.
Today, although most recalled brands in India have social media presence on Facebook, they would still be classified as owned media. What brands are now moving towards is earned media, of which blogging forms a major part. Having brand ambassadors who talk about you, and spread effective word of mouth is most critical because it has highest trust and credibility in the online space. (The author is the director and co-founder of IndiBlogger.in)
Source: The Hindu