Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Targeting the big voices vs finding the RIGHT voices
Leah Jones wrote a post yesterday that sparked a wonderful discussion of blogger outreach and the potential ethical concerns involved. The long story short is that Panasonic and their agency Crayon brought several 'influencers' to this year's Consumer Electronics Show, or CES to meet with Panasonic and try out various Panasonic products. One of those 'influencers' that Panasonic brought in was Chris Brogan, who while at the event, struck up a conversation with representatives from Sony (a top competitor to Panasonic), and is now doing business with them, as a result of their meeting at CES.
The key question that Leah posed was to wonder if Chris did something wrong in going to CES on Panasonic's dime, and then networking with Panasonic's competitors as potential clients.
Look, everyone knows how I feel about Chris. I like him, and consider him a good friend. So I'm willing to accept the possibility that I could be biased in favor of him when I look at this issue. But honestly, I don't see any problem with what Chris did. Last year I was flown in to speak at an event, and after I presented, one of the attendees loved my session so much that they asked me to present at their event. I confirmed with them, and a few months later the first event organizer contacted me about speaking at their event again, and I had to decline because I had confirmed to speak at the second event, which was being planned for the same weekend. Was I wrong to network with the second event organizer while at the first event? I don't think so, but maybe some do.
But in the midst of this debate, I think Spike Jones raised the key point, that many overlooked; Most companies are targeting the wrong people with their blogger outreach efforts. Why did Panasonic bring in 'influencers' to play with their toys instead of their own evangelists and fans? In most cases, influencers create short-term buzz, while evangelists produce long-term excitement. Why? Because the evangelists have a vested interest in promoting the company even before they reach out to them. Influencers usually don't have the emotional ties to the brands targeting them, so their desire to promote their involvement comes from a personal level moreso than wanting to promote the brand/company/products.
So which is more valuable to a company, one matter-of-fact Tweet from an influencer to her 50,000 followers, or one passionate evangelist with a fraction of the 'audience' that will promote the company from now on?
Short-term buzz vs long-term excitement. Evangelists trump 'influencers' every time.
Pic via Flickr user cameronparkins