Buyer Beware: A Guide To Bloggers
I have no trouble deciding the topic of this month’s Engage:Moms newsletter post. I had to go no farther than my own Facebook page to find a stream of conversation burning up the MomBlogosphere. Here’s the background. A PR company has decided to sell a document titled “2012 Mommy Blogger Contact Guide.” I am purposely not going to publish the link to their site in order to avoid sending traffic to their site. You’ll understand why in a minute. The firm’s name is Bulldog Reporter. I am telling you this because I want marketing professionals to be fully educated when they receive BUY NOW! emails. The 2012 Mommy Blogger Contact Guide promises this:
“If you want to secure top-notch placement in some of the most highly visited mommy blogs—you’ll want Bulldog Reporter’s latest media relations weapon” and goes on to say that it’s “100% verified and accurate listings assure you’ll be contacting the right bloggers and staff—at the right email address, Twitter feed and/or phone number.”
What it doesn’t tell you but many angry mom bloggers will be happy to share is that the information is not only inaccurate but it was lifted from third-party websites. The bloggers have no relationship with Bulldog Reporter, nor did they approve the sale of their personal phone numbers, old addresses or even their ex-husbands’ emails. And oh, yeah, they will not be happy or thrilled to work with you if you purchase the list and contact them.
The list was brought to my attention by a mom blogger who notified me that my own personal information was in the document. Being curious, I opened the hijacked copy of the guide to see exactly what’s listed. Congratulations to me. I made the list of influential bloggers. There I am in good company with others like Gabrielle Blair, Audrey McClelland and Dooce – even Tori Spelling with her 818 Los Angeles phone number – a truly influential group of women who all own a blog. Notice I never called them a “mommy blogger” because as we all know, that’s a bad word in the momblogosphere, a small detail that Mr. Bulldog forgot at the start. But I digress; back to the content of the 2012 MommyBlogger Contact Guide.
There we are all listed – 300+ of us moms with social media influence. One problem aside from all the wrong numbers and addresses – there’s a column that ranks the level of influence of each mother. With no explanation of what denotes influence, each mother is rated none, low, med, or high. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how influence was calculated. I was ranked “low.” I guess having 11 million followers online and off only qualifies for the low category. I didn’t feel bad because I wasn’t alone. I was in very good company with moms who I turn to almost every day to spread the word about brands; moms I believe are the best in category of influencers. Moms who by my criteria of reach, social media engagement, offline involvements and passion to share, rank quite high in the world of mom influencers.
And so this week, the momblogosphere is abuzz about the titled 2012 Mommy Blogger Contact Guide. Is it ethical for Bulldog to sell the personal information of mom bloggers? Probably. Retailers with loyalty programs sell our personal information every day. However, most would like to believe that developing a relationship with a blogger is somewhat deeper than sending you a coupon because you bought Dove soap last week at CVS. Do mom bloggers want companies to show up on their doorstep without notice? Do they want you to call them on the phone? Probably not, judging by the many angry posts on the Bulldog Facebook page and most likely why they have decided during my writing of this, to pull the addresses out of the directory. But should mom bloggers expect companies to reach out to them unexpectedly? Definitely, they are running a business and that’s what happens when you hang a shingle out with your name on it.
The take-away from this post is simple. Buyer beware! Nothing is as good as it appears. The best way to connect with mom bloggers is still the old-fashioned way: read their blog, get to know them and start a relevant, one-on-one dialogue. It’s that simple, and that didn’t cost you $200.
At deadline for this post, I did receive an email from Bulldog Reporter explaining how they calculate influence. According to the email, “We define an influencer as a person who, through writing and being read, affects the opinions of peers within a community around a certain topic.”
It appears that I won’t have to do too much thinking about my topic for next month’s post either. I’ll be writing, “What Makes a Mom Influential” because my two decades of studying moms has proven to me that you don’t have to be a blogger to be influential in the moms world. See you next month.