(<—our favorite review site)
A year ago when I first started out as a blogger, reviews and giveaways were a staple in the community. In fact, many bloggers were publicly ranked depending on the companies they were touting. Needless to say, influence was quite obvious if you were seen giving away a $600 stroller or a $500 vacuum.
But is it still making the impact it was this same time last year?
My opinion is no.
While the vacuum giveaways have remained, bloggers and companies alike are no longer comparing who is influential based on PR contacts alone. With the onslaught of social media networks, PR share amongst bloggers, and a kick up of pitch activity direct to bloggers, its only a matter of time before a newbie is inducted into the supersaturated world of reviewing.
The fact is, moms have all figured out how to be savvy in this space.
Moms are not the 1950’s view of a woman in pearls with a child attached to her hip. Moms who stay at home, work, or any combination of the two is more than like likely to be an eclectic mix of women in or out of corporate CEO positions all the way down to specialized degrees.
I have a BA in Criminology. Bridgette, a former MomDot Admin and owner of The Not So Blog, is a scientist for the USDA. Alicia is a teacher. Kim is an architect. The list goes on and on. In short, moms are leaders in their own world and have found a way to take their skills from beyond a 9-5 to grow their presence online.
Additionally its no longer a select few of elite bloggers attending the party. How to be a review blogger is pretty much one of the most commonly asked questions and can easily reveal results for the newest of the new. Working with a large company like Dyson, while last year was prestigious and garnered tons of entries and attention, has now turned to the norm.
And while companies have slowed down on what I would only have deemed as a desperation to get in front of the visitors of the most highly visited and influential mom blogs, the trend is slowing up as many realize that rather then standing out with a product, they are simply blending in with the crowd.
The real question is has all of this public relations come as a price to Mom Bloggers? Along with a lot of negative traditional media press determined to downplay the influence of mom blogs, I have noticed that not only are pitches receding across the board, even entries on blog contests are declining rapidly. Without “extra” entries, its clear that many contests are running with as few as 20 interested parties who want to “win”.
It leaves me pondering, “Are blog hoppers tired the reviews and giveaway posts?”
Quite frankly, maybe its been too much of a good thing. If the visitors are tired of it, at what point do reviews and giveaways slowly fade into the background to a more forefront of lifestyle content and companies slink out to more traditional advertising methods again with stricter blog guidelines?
Possibly some of this comes due to the fact that there is little clarification in how mommy blogs affect actual purchasing decisions. This aside, what mom blogs can be good for is branding and getting into the discussion. After a mention to a PR rep today about a washer/dryer set I received on a testing program that I was having problems with, I received a call from the company and a technician was immediately set up in response. While this personalization is nice and has benefits, I wonder how much companies can continue to maintain this in order to prevent “negative” responses about them on public websites.
But what is considered influential? Recently I attended a call with Nielson and approximately 8 other online leaders from different reflections of the blogosphere and the result was a mesh of opinions with really no resolution on what we all believed influential really is. And while we all agreed that stats and followers were part of the equation, true influence is quite possibly based on metrics that no one can calculate.
Personally I believe the problem with bloggers that work in the review and giveaway sect is that they have gone static. The formulas remain the same for a review; talk about the company, personal experience, and a giveaway tacked on at the end for interested visitors. But what happens when the visitors are no longer interested?
Its time to change the trend, not just for the PR, but for the bloggers benefit. There are more valuable ways to use brands in social media othen just addressing a specific product, a like and dislike, and how to purchase in a post.
It’s OK to get creative with your marketing and let brands into the world you have already set up rather than setting up a world around them.
Mom bloggers no longer just create posts for their personal websites, but run live TV shows, radio segments, face book fan pages, whrrl stories, and belong in niche communities. Working with brands to find more interactive way to use constant activity and not just prepackaged advertorials seems like a much more productive way to spend time online then just creating a cookie cutter post.
Add a commercial or sponsored by segment to your radio show, hold charitable product drives with a listing of donated companies and use sponsored links on website newsletters. I even recommend getting brands involved in your local community in donations to your child’s school or sports activities in exchange for articles upcoming community newsletters. Influence comes in all forms and it can be just as valuable to have a captive local audience that you can relate to directly, then a large sweeping of “uniques”.
As always, the most important thing is to create a link in why that brand is even making an appearance on your pages to generate interest. If you find that you are spending hours and hours pushing contests in order to break 50 comments, entering your links at every major contest site on the net, and talking up products in every other conversation just to keep a post from flopping, then it’s a warning sign that something has got to give…just don’t let it be you in the process.
Your visitors will thank you.