Remember the brouhaha over Marqui’s Pay Bloggers program back in 2004? People were so incensed that a company would dare pay bloggers to blog about them. Oh how idealistic they were! Those were the good ol’ days, before PayPerPost and Pay Per Digg. Now with ReviewMe having just launched, I see this system, of paying off bloggers, gaining more and more legitimacy. Programs such as these infuriate many ‘blogging purists,’ but the fact of the matter is, it’s simply capitalism at work. Like it or not, it’s here to stay.
Offering bloggers cold, hard cash is quite different from sending them free swag. Personally I think free swag offers distinct benefits over the payola route. As a blogger, I feel cheapened by the offer of cash. But the idea of free swag sounds kinda fun. Especially if it’s cool stuff. And as long as there are no strings attached. Several months ago Dave Taylor discussed whether free swag will get you a positive review by the blogger you send it to. The answer is of course, “not always,” but you should be willing to take that chance. Even if it’s not a good review, any link juice that comes out of it is good for your search engine rankings. My preference would be to make up “care packages” for your targeted bloggers that include free product samples and a nice, since, handwritten letter/card. Now’s a perfect time of year to send out such packages, with the holidays coming up. You can send them under the guise of a Christmas/holiday gift. Of course not all products are suitable for bundling into a care package. National Business Furniture would have a much tougher time picking out goodies to send than Steve Spangler Science or Discovery Channel Store.
Then you don’t always need to invoke bribery either, to gain a link and mention. For example, a week ago I received a request from the folks at the wonderful association of online retailers Shop.org (of which my company Netconcepts is a member), asking for some coverage for their new shopping portal. It’s for a good cause, as all of Shop.org’s proceeds go to their Ray M. Greenly Scholarship Fund, for college students interested in e-commerce careers. So, here you go, Shop.org — Do your holiday shopping online and do some good at the same time. (Hope it helps guys, and good luck!)
In a case such as this, where it’s for a good cause, I’d say free swag could actually get in the way, and negate the emotional tug on the heartstrings with a rationalized economic analysis.
All of the above notwithstanding, the approach I endorse the most to ‘infiltrating the blogosphere’ is to build relationships with bloggers over time by commenting on their blogs (I’m talking about interesting/insightful/provocative comments, not empty throwaway statements like “Really useful post. Thanks!!”). Over time I bet you’ll start to capture their attention and interest. If you aren’t convinced of the value of commenting, you might want read this, this and this.