Influencing Key Influencers

While I was on vacation last week, I caught a USA Today article (I love USA Today) entitled “Using Blogs for Buzz” by Kim Hart. You can find her original article about getting bloggers to write about your product on the Washington Post web site.

When Nokia Corp. released its camera smartphone last fall, the marketing campaign cut back on news releases and flashy ads. Instead, the company sent sample products to 50 tech-savvy amateur bloggers with a passion for mobile phones.

The tactic paid off, as word spread online about the N-series phone, driving up sales and contributing to a 43 percent profit boost for Nokia last quarter.

We are thinking about a similar strategy for LDS Media. We have been considering offering full access our LDS search engine (with more than 3,300 full text books) to key influencers. There are probably hundreds of LDS bloggers who would love a free subscription. All we would ask is that whenever they quote someone, that they link back to the ldslibrary.com web site. We also want to find ways to provide subscriptions to other groups, including, for example:

    • columnists for Meridian Magazine or LDS Living
    • webmasters
    • Education Week speakers
    • Seminary teachers (there are 40,000)
    • faculty at religious educational institutions

We need thousands of influencers who are using and citing and talking about the new LDS Library web site, so that everyone in the LDS community hears about our search engine.

Question is: how do we reach them and get them full access to our web site. It might be best to start with the bloggers and give the bloggers full access if they are willing to blog about the full access offer for these other customer segments.

Another Provo Labs company is marketing a great new product to help kids do their chores without whining: it’s called Children’s Miracle Music. Last week we had record sales. But we are just doing pay-per-click and email marketing. (We will soon be using SEO, online video (through 10Speed’s online video affiliate network), and traditional affiliate marketing as well.) We haven’t yet implemented a blog-based marketing strategy.

We are seriously considering finding every major mom blog on the internet and sending each blogging mom a free copy of Children’s Miracle Music, with no strings attached, just because we know so many moms love this product and the blogging moms are going to reach a lot more people with their enthusiasm than the non-blogging moms.

What do you think?

What is the best way to use the blogosphere to start a viral campaign? What other case studies exist besides the Nokia example?
Nokia hired Comunicano Inc. to develop their blogging program. What other firms are doing this?

What would you do if you wanted to kick of a viral blogging program for your company? Would you hire a PR firm with a blogging expert, or would you do it in-house?

If you’ve tried giving away your product or service to bloggers and saw an impact from it, please share with the rest of us! (I’m adding the Nokia example to the Strategy Tree wiki’s blogging page.)

11 Comments

  1. Hi Paul,

    I think the strategy can definitely work but you’ve got to really KNOW the blogs (size, audience, authors, etc) you are working with and KNOW they understand what you are trying to do and will work with you to do it.

    I really don’t think you should ONLY do this – but also get write ups in newsletters – they still do exisit! 🙂

    Ramon Ray, Editor,
    http://www.smallbiztechnology.com

  2. First off, the kinds of people who read and/or post to your blog are probably really good grassroots people. Second, find existing groups of influencers, i.e. just put a flyer in everyone’s box in the JSB at BYU. And there’s a CES convention every year, I don’t remember which month but I’ve been. But hitting the JSB will give you access to everyone who runs that convention. Give it to all their speakers, all the education week speakers. They each get thank you packets and welcome packets from BYU. And contrary to most groups, even the celebrities have their home phone numbers listed. I’m in the same ward as a famous one, and took classes from others–and I’m sure this, in a 6-degrees sense, applies to most of your employees.

  3. The NY Times has a model that might work for LDS Library. Normally you must be logged in to read NYT articles, but if you click through from Google News, there’s a token in the URL that gives you direct access. As people blog about the articles, NYT can trace the tokens back to their source (Google News, etc.)

    I’m sure Giuseppe and his writers will like access to LDS Library.

    When you promote Children’s Miracle Music, look to Guy Kawasaki. He has the longest list of Mommy bloggers I have seen. I actually emailed him a link to CMM when you first blogged about it, but he hasn’t mentioned it yet.

  4. Russell Page

    You have to be careful with blogs. They can be a lot more snarky and negative just to be negative. (That’s personal experience with placing products with blogs).

    You really need to look at their tone and history or you can end up doing more harm than good. I had a very popular tech blog hammer a product at first site only to change direction once they actually saw it, but it was too late.

  5. David Armstrong

    Paul – I think the basics of viral marketing are sometimes overlooked. It is rooted in classic networking power laws from Bob Metcalf and David Reed. Simply taking the examples of Hotmail, Skype and YouTube and identifying why they grew, all of them for different reasons would be a good start. The impact of the receiver of the “viral” equation is critical to success. So in a 1:1:Many approach…company:blogger:readers, maximizing the value of the ‘readers” will get people to blog…of course, that’s the trick.

  6. Paul,
    I’d definitely be interested in talking to you about getting access to your LDS search engine in return for some linkage/promotion on my sites. I have a few websites that are LDS/Utah County specific like:
    Crashutah – Utah County Restaurant and Entertainment Guide
    BYU Sports Blog

    As far as using bloggers for viral marketing and specifically your Children’s Miracle Music product, you should consider trying out a new website called PayPerPost. I don’t work for them, but I have been paid by them to post on some of my various blogs. You would want to specify things like blog must be a mommy blog to be most effective, but I’d be happy to help you out if you were interested in trying it out.

  7. Dan...

    Crashutah nailed it! Just as GoTo/Overture/Google opened a marketing channel to the searching consumer, PayPerPost has opened a channel to Consumer Generated Advertising. PPP also delivered a business model to a CGM world that sorely needed one. Check my link above for a recent post about PayPerPost and the CGA revolution.

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