Did you see this week's Spit & Polish in The Sunday Times? In it, Barry Ronge eloquently lamented the subversive power of bloggers on Box Office takings - often to the detriment of great films.

He mentions an interview with the Mike Nichols, Director of The Golden Compass, a film which suffered, and failed, at the hands of fundamentalist Christian bloggers who denounced it as a "gospel for Atheists":
Nichols [speculated] about how the Internet has become a determining factor in Hollywood’s choice of the movies they make and also the style in which they are made, because producers now have to please the blogosphere or fail.

Nichols expressed it precisely. “It’s a whole new critical world out there. I am all for everyone having a voice,� he said. “I just don’t think everyone has earned the microphone. And that’s what the Internet has done. It has given everyone the microphone, saying ‘Get a load off your chest’. Inevitably, the angriest or most outrageous voices get the attention.

Sadly, it's not usually the most erudite arguments that get the most Attention online, it's those that are most sensational and easiest to spread.

The challenge to South African marketers will be to engage and form relationships with the influential bloggers here, and to build relationships so that their story can be represented objectively ahead of the eminent flood of opinion that is going to be unleashed on them soon.

For bloggers, it's important to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with an audience.

We can't regulate the blogosphere, but we can be a more intelligent community by embracing fundamental journalistic principles.
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AuthorDave Duarte
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This is becoming an increasingly common question in meetings and marketing strat sessions that I attend, even among the traditionalists: "How can we engage the top bloggers in South Africa?".

So this post is for the SA Bloggers who would like to make some decent money from their blogs on the side. I know that this is not everyone, as there are some people who would prefer not to get involved with corporations or marketing. And yes, I'm aware that dollar-blogging has its critics.

They're not all bad guys

The corporate marketers that I've chatted to have done their research. They are clued up about the advantages, risks and best-practices around the blogosphere. They're not here to dictate the message, in fact they're looking for people who can maintain their credibility with their audience over time. i.e. people with opinions.

The Aggregators

Another thing that I've noticed at most of these meetings is printouts from Amatomu and Afrigator of the top bloggers in the various categories. One wise marketer even had a printout of the most active users on Muti!

So these things count, your rankings count.

Media Buyers

So how can you engage?

  • Well, obviously the first step is to get more serious about your blogging. Do it regularly and often. Choose good headlines and participate actively in the community.

  • Choose your subject carefully and stick to it. Media buyers are looking for relevance and a specific audience.

  • Use Google Analytics to track your stats. This is useful because it's a standard analytics package that media-buyers can use as a reference. You can also give them login access to view the information live and unedited, which increases trust.

  • Be professional. Brand managers typically don't want to be associated with crudeness, no matter what kind of traffic you're getting.

  • Have a rate card. Know what your real-estate is worth.

  • Don't use mainstream online media as a pricing reference, you can charge a higher CPM as a blogger because of the relationship value and feedback mechanisms offered by blogs.


Besides Advertising

There are other ways to make money from your blog:

  • Research: If you can help with surveys, or get comments and feedback from your users about a particular question, then this would perhaps be an even better investment by marketers. Good qualitative research doesn't come cheap.



  • Campaign Strategies: As experienced as these marketers are, the world of Social-Media and the blogosphere is completely new to them. There's much demand for people who can make this space simpler to navigate.



  • Reviews: You might not get paid to do reviews, but certainly a major perk of being a prominent blogger is all the gadgets and products you can get sent to try out - from cars to cellphones - review bloggers have it good. Sometimes they even let you keep it:)



  • Blogger2go: Writing for the blogosphere is almost an art. There's alot of other bloggers out there, so to get noticed is no small feat. Put on your taxonomy/folsonomy; SEO; Linking; SMM; ORM; CSS; HTML; Photography; Videography; Podcasting and Networking hats all at the same time, and get paid to blog for businesses.



  • The Indirect Approach: Even though I don't sell advertising on this blog, it is still a tremendous asset and income generator for me. I monetize my work here through the business leads it generates through people picking it up on Google, or readers in companies contacting me about work. If I have capacity I do the work myself, or if not I can usually refer these leads on to someone else for commission.


An Inconvenient Truth

Unfortunately, the sponsorship train doesn't stop for everyone. The reason that most companies want to get involved in the blogosphere is because of the viral aspects of it. i.e. They'd prefer to pay a few people, who would then inspire their blogger mates to write more about the company/product/service for free.

Will the Real ProBloggers Please Stand Up?

I know that there are people in SA making a healthy income on the side from their blogs, mainly off affilliate revenue, and a few advertisers. Are you also? Do you want to? What other advice would you give. Also, do you think this is bad for the blogosphere, or supportive?
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AuthorDave Duarte
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Stormhoek's new bottleMany people in South Africa know about the Stormhoek wine's marketing success story. But now, as announced on their blog, they're at risk of losing their hold on their largest market - the UK.

Despite the phenomenal sales and growth Stormhoek has experienced, Orbital Wines (Stormhoek's distribution partner in the UK) has gone out of business and is under administration from their bank. It seems they over-extended themselves by investing in other wineries around the world which weren't as lucrative as Stormhoek.
This is bad news for Stormhoek's owner, South Africa based Graham Knox. Not only does he not recover the funds he is owed by Orbital, but he needs quickly to re-establish distribution in the UK if the lucrative contracts he has in place with the major retailers in the UK (such as Tesco's) are to be maintained.

So Stormhoek is looking for an investor, someone to buy the distribution rights in the UK.

This is a superb opportunity for someone to own a significant stake in a global wine brand. I've met with Graham, and have heard the price. It's a figure which will easily be re-couped by the investor in a relatively short time.

Stormhoek has supported the geek community around the world, and South Africa in particular. Graham and Chris have asked me to blog about this investment opportunity because it might reach the right ears. As a social-media community we can help this South African success story continue. Blog it, Muti it, talk about it.
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AuthorDave Duarte
CategoriesMarketing
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Mike Stopforth often speaks of a concept called Guerilla Kindness. There's not much about it online though, so I thought I'd spark the conversation.

Guerilla Kindness is an ongoing strategic approach undertaken by a company to surprise and delight people in the hope of creating a great story associated with the experience to pass on to their peers, and hopefully mention online.

Examples:


  • Graham from Missing Link was sent a toy car by the call-centre agent at Outsurance when he crashed his car. He blogged about it, and many a reader of his blog (including me) was impressed by the remarkable courtesy and good humour displayed by the insurer.

 

  • Aston Martin gave Mike the keys to a DB9 for a day after he wrote an article mentioning the vehicle. He subsequently blogged the experience, the post was picked up by some major sites and over 50 000 people read it. As a result and I'm sure quite a few of those have grown their appreciation for the company and its cars (I have).

Execution:


  • An idea might be to organize a flashmob to clean up a really messy city street in an instant; paint an ugly building; plant a few hundred trees or organise fabulous suprises for random clients.

  • The idea is not to brand the act, nor to publicize it yourself.

  • Your intentions should be good, and hopefully someone will mention it of their own accord (that's how things work in the blogosphere and the world of Social Currency)

In other words it refers to random acts of kindness that are:


  • Creative

  • Unexpected, and

  • Personal

(Drink from the CUP of kindness :-p)

 

By the way, the more money you spend, the less it is trusted. Use some energy, thoughtfulness and time instead.

It's a fun idea. I'm already working on my company's Guerilla Kindess strategy for 2008.

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AuthorDave Duarte
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I've just spent a whole week at the UCT GSB doing a programme called Creategy. During the time, I delegated my email responsibility, turned off my phone, and didn't take work home.

The time out to work ON my business (as opposed to just IN my business) has been invaluable - my imagination has been sparked and I'm excited at the new possibilities that the knowledge I've gained brings. I would recommend it to anyone... And so I will:)

Peer PowerOn Monday afternoon in Cape Town I'm doing a Technomadic Marketing workshop. It's been organised by PeerPower, one of my favourite companies. We'll use the session reflect and plan for more effective marketing, particularly by introducing web and mobile tech.

If you're interested in attending, you can mail mignon@peerpower.co.za or call 021 409 7826
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AuthorDave Duarte
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AdMobI just saw that AdMob recently served its 5billionth mobile ad. Wow.

What was extra-interesting is that South Africa is their second largest market globally. 15% of their ad impressions are served here - close to 70million a month.

The publishers in AdMob’s network have been categorised into five primary content channels. Of the five channels, ‘Communities’ and ‘Downloads’ far outweigh ‘Portals’, ‘News and Information’, and ‘Entertainment’ in terms of traffic. The traffic breakdown by channel is:

1. Communities: 45 %
2. Downloads: 44%
3. Portals : 8%
4. Entertainment: 2%
5. News and Information: 1%

The most popular channel, Community, contains sites that have aggregated user content in some form or another. These mobile sites may include discussion groups, mobile page building services, forums, or even dating sites.

I might be stating the obvious, but the prevalence of Community and Downloads at the top of the list confirms that people are still far more interested in using their handsets to keep up with their friends than they are interested in consuming commercially produced content on the small screen.
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AuthorDave Duarte
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