Blogger Buddy: An Interview with Enterprise Magazine

Blogger Buddy Interview

In October, I was interviewed by Natalie Bruckner-Menchelli, editor of Enterprise Magazine: The Voice of Canadian Credit Unions. Published six times each year, the story was featured on the back page of their January 2013 issue.

Enterprise is a must-read for credit union CEOs, senior executives, managers and directors, and has been named Western Canada’s Best Trade Magazine by the Western Magazine Awards Foundation for six years in a row. I feel honoured to have been interviewed for the magazine and am excited to share it with all of you.

Blogger Buddy: Being mentioned in someone’s online diary can be a powerful marketing tool

By Natalie Bruckner-Menchelli

Would you trust the word of a friend over a stranger? This is the idea behind “blogger outreach,” a tactic being employed by some organizations to spread their business messages.

Through blogger outreach, companies try to build relationships with respected bloggers who have credibility in relevant fields. The end goal is for these bloggers to write about organizations’ messages to their dedicated audiences.

According to a 2012 survey by U.S. Internet advertising network Burst Media, two-thirds (65.5%) of respondents who read blogs say their purchasing decisions are influenced when the author mentions or promotes a brand within the blog’s content.

According to Macolm Stoffman, president and CEO of the $164-million Ontario-based Momentum Credit Union, financial institutions are recognizing there has been a shift in how news is reported, with both marketers and media companies now paying more attention to bloggers. “What we are witnessing is more bias in the media. Although Canada isn’t seeing quite the same shift as other countries, there’s a belief that media has an agenda.”

While traditional media, such as print and radio, still has a firm foothold in spreading advertising messages, experts are exploring this new avenue.

Getting to know you. Cait Flanders, who runs a personal finance blog with more than 1,300 followers, believes there has been a significant shift in how people respond to marketing messages. “Attitudes are changing. People don’t care so much about the hard facts anymore. They want to know about personal experiences. That’s what builds brand loyalty,” says Flanders, who runs blondeonabudget.ca.

The personal testimony from a blogger can do wonders for a business, but how do you get an independent blogger to talk about your company? According to Flanders, the first step is finding the right blogger buddy.

“The biggest thing is you have to understand what the blogger is all about. I have had pitches about the financial aspects of marriage and divorce. I am single. Why would I be interested in that?” she asks.

Statistics from global social media research company NM Incite found that there were 181 million blogs in the world at the end of 2011. However, pitching to the right bloggers, as Flanders stresses, is key.

Once you’ve done your research, Flanders recommends refining your pitch. “My number one piece of advice is that you can’t target a person before getting to know them. Make the pitch relevant.”

The next step is to provide constructive feedback. After posting a blog on switching from the $12-billion B.C.-based Coast Capital Savings Credit Union to ING DIRECT following her move to Toronto, Flanders was contacted by both Coast Capital and ING. Both financial institutions also shared her post on Twitter and sent Flanders direct messages.

However, most credit unions admit that while they realize the power of bloggers, it is something that still needs to be explored.

Despite being featured in Flanders’s blog, Coast Capital says it doesn’t target bloggers. Divine Agodzo, manager of media relations at Coast Capital, says that while the credit union is active on channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, it is challenged by time and resources.

Stoffman agrees, saying that resources play a big part. He admits, however, that it is an area that credit unions should be considering “so [the credit unions] don’t get left behind.”

“Soon banks will start to recognize that they need to have these bloggers on side and will start to make friends with them and get their message out there. We need to ensure we remain both ahead of the game and tap into Gen Y,” concludes Stoffman.

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