While I am preparing to the ActionAid UK Blogger Tea party this week I decided to post my top tips in separate blog posts – I think on Thursday I will only have few minutes to present so I would like to explain my points in more detail. I am starting with something pretty important to me (both as a blogger, as well as social media marketer who works will bloggers quite often) – disclosure.
When you start blogging you need to clarify the goals of your presence on-line. Sooner or later you might be approached by agencies or directly by brands or even by individuals asking you for article exchange, product review or involvement in an event for example. What would you do if someone posts a public comment asking you to post a review of a new baby product (please note: my audience on Thursday will consist mainly of blogging mothers)? Would you prefer to be contacted by email? Or maybe you would rather avoid any involvement with commercial brands? Increasingly our individual on-line reputation depends on how we get involved in promotional activities or any blogger engagement programmes. Me, for example, I avoid direct engagement with products that are not relevant to my audiences and topics of my blog. I am happy to learn and review new social media services or social media campaigns, often I do take part in events and nonprofit campaigns but always according to my personal preference and relevance to my blog (which is designed to be the extension of my geeky life, so it makes perfect sense). I receive quite a lot of pitches but I choose to stay away from many because they happen to be irrelevant to my site. I was once asked by an agency to take part in a project based around embedding of a branded widget on my site – and even though it was related to photography I did not like the idea of embeddable code and content which I cannot really control within my site. When I gently declined it was pointed out to me that I did indeed take part in a fairly commercial blogging give away – which I think was a very rude and ignorant response from someone who probably just started working with bloggers and does not realise that we do not really like to feel that pushy communication. Specially that in this particular case I was involved in a give away on my friend’s site and the topic was relevant to my hobbies.
What should we do to clarify our approach to our own blogging and how we expect to be involved with organisations and brands? Here are few major points:
1. Dedicate an area of your blog to clear statement on the topic – you can use your profile information area, contact page, about section or create a dedicated “disclaimer” page.
2. If you work is related to blogging, point out what on-line presences (Twitter, Facebook, Google+ profile) are personal (“Personal opinions only”) and where are your work related posts.
3. If you share a work related post with your personal networks, explain the context. Sometimes just tagging it #work does the job.
4. If you are involved in promotions, sponsored blogger events or any other activity which might mean that the content you are sharing is not purely YOUR opinion or is your opinion on a sponsored activity – make sure you explain your relationship with involved brands to your audience.
5. If you are paid to blog – find the appropriate moment to disclose that too.
As your readers, we want to know how you relate to what you post and what you experience off-line. As marketers we need your guidance on whether we can and if so then how can we approach you. As fellow bloggers, we want to link to your content with a ful understanding of its context.