Until about a year ago, promotional blogs were few and far between. There was the occasional attempt, but most efforts served more as examples of what not to do.
That isn't the case anymore. Marketers use blogs, both in text and video form ("vlogs"), to connect with audiences and generate buzz about products, offerings, and events. Blogs are reaching new creative heights, and companies are establishing a new standard of blog marketing.
Leading the way is the entertainment industry, which has embraced blogs for their popularity with TV-watching and movie-going audiences. Among those using them is Peter Jackson, director of "Lord of the Rings" and the upcoming remake of "King Kong."
Through a partnership with The One Ring Inc., the online marketing company behind the largest "Lord of the Rings" site, Jackson has been documenting the filming of "King Kong" via a vlog production diary. The vlog, which has been live since last year, features behind-the-scenes footage and information on the cast and crew. It also sells official "Kong is King" merchandise.
KongisKing.net currently averages 1.5 million unique visits per month -- and the film won't even be released until December 2005.
Testing the waters on the TV industry's behalf is FOX, which is using blogs to build a personal relationship between viewers and the stars of its new shows. In an upcoming campaign to promote the new series "Stacked," the network is partnering with community site Friendster, using its free blogging service to build excitement around the show. Users can visit the "Stacked on Friendster Blogs" page and read blogs written by Pamela Anderson and other members of the cast and crew.
The page offers photos from the pilot's taping, blogs (almost 30), and information about the actors' favorite books, music, movies, and, of course, blogs (features that can be added to any Friendster blog). According to FOX, the blogs will be updated throughout the season so viewers can continue to "follow along with exclusive, up-to-date, behind-the-scenes information and insight."
"Stacked" blogs are promoted on Friendster via an Anderson banner ads that reads, "I act. I design. I blog."
Even apparel brands are working to make a connection with consumers through blogs, though the stars are sometimes fictional. Last year, Lee Jeans launched an amusing, King Kong-inspired TV spot that followed a "90 ft. babe," Natalia, as she walked through New York City, stepping on cars and snapping power lines. Upon spotting an average-sized, Lee Jeans-clad man, she scrawled her phone number for him across a wall.
Natalia shared her story with consumers in a blog called Don't Flinch. She fielded questions such as, "Have you ever had any run-ins with birds?" discussed her larger-than-life existence, and encouraged visitors to call her at the number from the commercial. (Those who did got a sexy answering machine message promoting the jeans and directing callers back to the blog.) The result was entertaining, a little silly, and unforgettable.
So far, the new breed of promotional bloggers seems to be doing everything right. They have a motive for using the medium; they aren't jumping on the blog bandwagon without good reason. Their sites don't just generate awareness and buzz, but connect consumers with the company's products by inviting them into their personal world. Posts on these blogs have a purpose and allow users to relate to the people behind them.
It will be interesting to see how other industries use blogs as their popularity among marketers grows. How far will companies go to make consumers feel a personal connection to what they're offering? Will their enthusiasm lead to continued improvement or blog overexposure?
Whatever the case, those eager to experiment had better hustle. This window of opportunity won't likely be open for long.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
March 19, 2014