I read a lot of blogs. A lot of them. I’d offer up a screen shot of my Google Reader but the +1000 unread posts is giving me anxiety that I just don’t have time to deal with. Blogging to me is an art, a science, and something that I hold so very close to my heart as a person. One of the blogs that I’ve been reading the longest is Erin Kotecki Vest’s (aka Queen of Spain.)
I’ve been reading her blog since sometime in ’06 when she wrote for the Huffington Post about the barrage of phone calls that she was receiving during the election cycle. I loved it. It made me laugh and yet engaged in an intelligent way. That’s the Queen – and that’s how she rolls. She writes amazing content even when she’s not writing about anything that specifically appeals to me. Often times, the posts really get me thinking. This happened the other day. She wrote an article that offered brilliant commentary on blogging that hit very close to home considering my job and my love affair with blogs.
Read “I’m Calling Out the Carpet Bagging Mommy Bloggers.” It’s a great editorial piece and the current state of affairs in this section of the blogosphere in regards to the role of marketing in the blogging world. There are bloggers like Erin who, through talent, will, perseverance and probably a little luck – created their corner of the web. Then there are the others do it differently. Or as she puts it: “You’re hosting a giveaway, selling all our souls for a new mop, and lowering the bar for the next to come along.”
It’s an interesting thing for me to read because my opinion lays somewhat in the middle. While I never have had the success that Queen of Spain Blog has, I have always been far more interested in creating content. Sure – it’s my content: drifting from those lost days of young adulthood to the sometimes even more lost days of real adulthood – blogging has always been about the words that appear in front of you. Yet, as someone who works in marketing – I’ve used the non-content producing blogs. Blogs of people interested only in my product. Bloggers who care very little for building the community I want, for building the brand that I love, and for all the steps in between.
Why do I do it then? I believe in community and the power of social media to bring people together far more than I believe in marketing, metrics, and all those other numbers that allow me to do this for a living. I do it because of those numbers and because there is something to gain doing this from a business perspective. There is that ROI. There are those metrics and numbers. It works.
“You know there is a beautiful old dinosaur of an idea that traditional media has taught us. You clearly separate ads from editorial. Ads and editorial are not the same and you don’t blur the lines.”
The quote above stuck in my head as I read and re-read Erin’s post to create my response (after a little back and forth with her and another blogging favorite Mr. Lady) and it struck me: for me, those review posts ARE advertisements. They are straight-forward, unauthentic advertisements that work like print and television ads do. They create a little buzz, they create brand impressions, and they die shortly thereafter. The sophisticated avoid them. The masses will shortly follow and the bubble will ultimately burst and, George the marketer, will find another avenue for the quick hit buzz.
I think the internet as a whole understands the difference between the content producing blogs and those that function solely as giant advertisements: much like people understand the content differences between US Weekly and the New Yorker. As the internet, blogging and other user-generated content continues to grow – these differences will continue to arise. I will be interested in how they are responded to culturally, from a marketing perspective, and all points in between. For blogging to succeed, we need Ombudsman like Queen of Spain to continue to question how things are, why they are, and exert an opinion that may be wildly unpopular or, with the masses in line, change the standing order of business.
As for me, George the community guy still exists – as it was pointed out on Twitter (thanks!). George the community guy will always exist because the greater return is there. When false rumors of my company’s demise circulated the internet, I tried to cut it off when it got a bit out of hand. When I was responding to posts, what did I see? I saw Erin there. Erin was there defending the company. It was an authentic voice. Something I needed as I waded through the sea of negative rumors – both for the help in stopping the rumor and for the inspiration that people out there do care. If I had to quantify the return on that, I probably couldn’t. No excel spreadsheet, no formula, nothing would show how much that meant to me and how much that type of activity means to Crocs. I thanked Erin and she said she likes to help out “cool” people. My “coolness” aside, I knew she did it for one reason: she meant it.
As this field matures, I would rather be unemployed than to have someone not understand the return on that authentic kind of communication, but that’s also the blogger in me. At the end of the day, there are still spreadsheets to fill out, numbers to calculate, and return to prove. I’m enjoying being somewhat of a trailblazer in this in-between existence – but that means being somewhat centrist and doing some things for numbers and other things for community. As long as corporations have to tow the line, there will always be the “non-content” blogs. It’s the nature of the beast and I just hope that I do things in a way that honors these medium that I love. I think I will – especially when I have blogs, tweets, and interactions with people like Erin that will never let me forget my roots.