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How to use blogs to plan campaigns

How to use blogs to plan campaigns

By Nima Yassini, Head of Digital, RMG Connect.

At the start of this year, blog tracking firm Technorati reported that 100,000 new blogs were being created every day, and 1.3 million blog posts were written. So with so much live comment out there, are marketers making the most out of the rich source of opinion and feedback that is available to them?

Brands often use blogs these days to manage their reputations; using them on a reactive basis and responding to comments made on blogs by customers or competitors.  Therefore this is often done on a defensive or reactive basis, used for crisis management purposes.

As a result, blogs are being sold short; not being used to their full innovative potential.

A great deal is being overlooked in terms of the planning potential offered up by blogs.  Why only use them on a reactive basis when they could be viewed early on in the planning stages of a campaign, using customer opinion to shape the way that the campaign is carried out?

Brands can, and should, use blogs as a research tool, to gauge the temperature of the market and to track what consumers are saying about issues important to the brand.  For example, financial services companies can use blogs to explore public opinion about current credit card rates and offers.

This can then help them to package their own card launches in a tone that will appeal to their target audience, taking into consideration the fears and concerns that they know are out there.

Currently most brands use blog tracking technology or Google's alerts system to find out what blogs are out there and what people’s views on certain issues are. Both systems are good, but Google is limited as it can’t probe into the conversation, and look at details such as how far the influence of the dialogue is stretching, who the originator is and how many conversations have started.

There is a major issue with tracking blogs with just technology. Technology is not able to pick up on sarcasm, so what may sound positive could be very negative. It is important to couple technology with detailed ‘human’ analysis to ensure all factors are picked up.

There are many tools available to track blogs, including:
- Google alerts
- Bloppy; the latest of the blog comment tracking services.   
- Commentful
- Co.mments
- Factiva
-  Seer
All of these are good online tools, although they are at times limited. One key note is that this is not a ‘set and forget’ solution and using the insight beyond a early warning system will provide greater results for the investment.

Moving forward, it’s about time the industry started using blogs innovatively and proactively, seeing them as an opportunity rather than just an aide or support tool. Using the blog platform cleverly can allow you to analyse the following aspects of consumer comment on an issue:
-    Tonality: tones people use when talking about a product or service can give us insight into what our copy tone should be
 - Product release: Identifying if there is a heavy negative opinion towards a product/service and deciding if we should launch a campaign or hold back until feeling dies down

- Early warning system: Letting us know early if there is an issue or strong reaction to an idea, so things can be adapted if necessary

The next step is to look at ways to track people from blog to site. This will enable us to see how a user engages with blogs in a purchase process. For example, do they visit before they buy, or after they have researched a product etc?

Once this level of insight has been reached, we will be able to interact with people at different times and ensure that blogging is not only a support to our planning processes, but an active element in its development.

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