I am going to be speaking today at the WOMMA Summit in Chicago. I have been asked to participate in a panel discussion on how blogs can be used to do word-of-mouth marketing. On the panel with me is Deborah Schultz from Six Apart and Rick Bruner from DoubleClick.
I wanted to publish some thoughts here for people who are (and are not) attending the event.
I think there are four reasons why companies should be using blogs to support word-of-mouth marketing:
Blogging is Personal – The vast majority of blogs are written by a single individual. This is what makes the medium compelling. You are hearing directly from another person what they think and how they feel. People talk about their passions. People talk about their day at work. They talk about just about everything.
Linking – The use of hyperlinks is an integral part of blogging. Bloggers may reference a news story or the latest video game they bought. Those links are recommendations. They are telling people, “Go check it out.”
By linking to someone else, they also are giving them a gift. Robert Scoble (Microsoft Software Evangelist) calls it GoogleJuice. The more a site gets linked to, the more relevant search engines believe that content to be. Again it is like word-of-mouth–the more you hear about something, the more you start to pay attention.
Key Points: Make sure your blog posts have permalinks and get familiar with Technorati.
Permanance – The trouble with most word-of-mouth marketing is that it is taking place one person at a time. And each conversation has to take place over and over again.
The “conversations” that take place on blogs are (relatively) permanent. Before I make any purchase now, I check to see if any blogs have had anything to say. I can see if people liked the hotel they stay at or if I should buy the new Mac Mini.
Key Point: Consider starting a blog to pull together what bloggers are saying about your company and your products (bonus points if you list the good and the bad).
P.S. people are going to find both sides whether you like it or not.
Syndication – You are going to hear alot about RSS. It stands for Real Simple Syndication. RSS lets people subscribe to your blog and get notified when you post new content. This lets your biggest fans find out the moment you launch the new product. What would happen if you broke a story on your blog and simply let your evangelists spread the word?
Key Points: Make sure you have a RSS feed on your blog and start using a RSS reader (like Bloglines) to keep up with blogs.
The people who are drawn to blogging like to talk. They like telling others things. They like being the authority. Just the sort of people you would like talking about you.
Key point: Get to know the bloggers talking about you and your industry (and I don’t mean by sending them press releases).
I have a great list of blogging links in my del.icio.us account. Start at the bottom and work your way up. You will find everything from what is a blog to how to pitch stories to bloggers. I highly recommend the Fortune article on blogging. It is the best mainstream media piece written on blogging thus far.
On the panel today, we will be giving lots of corporate examples of blogging. I wanted to give you a list of other business blogs you can check out. These are smaller companies using blogs in different ways to talk with their customers.
- Jewelboxing – This is product by Coudal Partners. They have a great feature where they list the cities they shipped to each day. It is a great way to give a nod to customers publicly without creating privacy problems.
- Green Cine Daily – If you like indie films, there is not a better site on the internet to find out what it going on. When they talk about movies, they link to them in their catalog.
- 800-CEO-READ – I am a little partial since I do alot of work for 8cr. Here is another example of a company taking their niche (i.e. business books) and striving to provide an unparalleled resources. With reviews/news, text excerpts, and audio content, they…I mean we are well on our way.
- Atomic Books – This is Baltimore based bookstore. It is a “slice of life” kind of blog, and next time I am in Baltimore I have to go visit them.
- English Cut – A Saville Row tailor talking about his craft and why his suits are better. And he gives lots of reasons…