Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Companies reaching out to bloggers and the viral effect

Chris proudly proclaims in this post that he's a Saturn Evangelist.
If there were a Saturn Lovers Facebook group, I’d join it. If GM had a community evangelist in that group, asking for YouTube videos ranting about my Saturn, I’d go out and make one. If they wanted to do meetups, I’d probably go.

Chris is talking about how big companies can leverage social media in their marketing efforts, but if you work for Saturn and happen to read this post, it screams "please contact me, because I want to promote you".

And that's just what Kyle Johnson, Saturns' Communication Director, did. Kyle left several comments to Chris' post, giving Chris a heads up about online forums for Saturn fans, and inviting Chris to contact him at any time. Many companies are beginning to understand why it's important to reach out to bloggers, and monitor what they are saying about their company.

But look at this post and take Chris out of the equation for a minute. Notice that as soon as Kyle commented, almost every comment from that point on (including Chris') were to Kyle. Chris' readers were obviously excited by having a rep from Saturn stop by, and they instantly responded to the chance to interact with him. And to Kyle's credit, he came back and left a few more comments after his original one.

Then we have the viral element to Kyle's comments on Chris' blog coming into play. I found out about Chris' post because I saw a post on it at Greg Verdino's blog. Greg explains:
But either way, this is exactly the kind of thing more brands should be doing -- not once and not just when something goes horribly wrong, but every single day. If customers, fans and haters are talking about you every day (and they are), you need to be listening and talking back. Mostly listening, but there's a lot to be said for joining the conversation when you have something meaningful to add.....And for anyone who isn't monitoring online conversations and joining in as appropriate, you're missing a huge opportunity to market smarter and build better consumer relationships.

I decided to check, and according to Technorati, there are currently 10 links to Chris' post about Saturn (this will be #11). This is what many companies aren't realizing, there is frequently a viral effect to reaching out to bloggers. Even today, a company taking the time to try to talk to bloggers on their blog in their space is still a bit of a rarity. The simple act of a company rep taking the time to interact with bloggers becomes the story. It creates a buzz among bloggers, as it's doing here.

Look at the companies that are spending these millions trying to create ads and videos that will 'go viral', when all they have to do is spend some time reaching out to bloggers and having a conversation with us. That's the quickest way to get bloggers talking about you.

And it's free.

UPDATE: Socially Adept and MarketingBlurb have already linked to this post. Susan mentions how she's now reading about Chris' post because I wrote about it after seeing Greg write about it. And so it spreads, hope you companies are taking notes.

Nother UPDATE: Jennifer at Search Engine Guide has also written an article about Saturn reaching out to Chris. Notice that not only are bloggers responding to Chris' post, but also to the fact that Kyle was smart enough to respond on Saturn's behalf. One comment on one blog has now spread out to reach readers on about 15 blogs. As I told Jennifer, isn't this what Jaffe calls 'using New Marketing to prove that New Marketing works'?


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Anonymous said...

Hey Mack,

I am always surprised when I write about a brand and don't hear from someone directly at the company. At this point, how can any major brand not take notice? Of course, big brands can't respond to everyone, but do you think consistency of coverage increases a brands willingness to interact?

Mack Collier said...

"I am always surprised when I write about a brand and don't hear from someone directly at the company. At this point, how can any major brand not take notice?"

Kevin that's an interesting statement that shows how quickly the blogosphere is evolving. I feel the same way, but just a year ago, a company commenting or contacting me after a post I left here made a big impression on me. Now we see it as a huge opportunity lost if companies aren't monitoring what we bloggers are writing about them.

The other day I got a visitor here to the post I wrote about how Delta was blogging now. The visitor came from the page at Technorati that showed which blogs had linked to Delta's blog.

The kicker? The visitor came from American Airlines. I love that, and it's a sign of the times. It's no longer enough to simply know what bloggers are writing about your company, but you need to know what they are writing about your competitors as well.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mack,

Thank you for your advice on pitching. I communicated your tips to my readers. I was actually outreached recently by the founder of after posting about their new start up on my blog. If the CEO of an online startup can do it, so can the corporate communication folks for major corporations. Social media strategies have yet to become widespread practice among the corporate and marketing PR folks of many major companies.


gianandrea said...

Mack, I'm consulting a multinational company Italian subsidiary right now about this approach. Man, it's so hard to make them understand that to drop few lines today is better than run behind customers tomorrow. They simply do not see the benefit and are scared by something they do not know.

Anonymous said...

I found this post from Jennifer’s post and will bookmark it just because someone (Chris?) really seems to like Saturn. That’s got to be worth a bookmark right? Good job Saturn Dude. But I’ll never leave Toyota. Now I’ve got to bookmark Toyota too ‘cause I feel like I just cheated on them.

Anonymous said...

Your posting is too funny (and too true I might add)

The funny thing is that I found your posting because I looked up in google "Reaching Out To Bloggers" and there was your post right smack on my face (talk about a perfectly designed subject line on your behalf - great job.)

I' ve been working on reaching out to Bloggers who are interested in the topic of Innovation to Blog live from the 2009 World Innovation Forum ( on May 5-6, 2009 from a specially designed "Bloggers Hub" at the event.

Anyway, in trying to find the most effective way to do this, your posting dropped onto my lap right from the sky (OK, not from the sky but from Google :-))

Thanks for a great post and I definitely get your point.