Who does blogger relations?

As I wrote responding to bloggers, I was thinking about the different relationships bloggers can have with the companies they write about. "Blogger relations" as a distinct discipline with full responsibility for engaging bloggers is probably impossible, because there are too many variations on the relationship. Bloggers play different roles, which companies will need to engage appropriately. The challenge will become assigning and coordinating efforts to engage bloggers and, more broadly, social media.

As Vinnie Mirchandani points out, "There is a big difference between monitoring blog world and developing relations with it." The problem is scale; there are just too many bloggers to treat us all alike. I think the solution is going to involve segmenting the blogosphere, tailoring your response to the segment, and triage based on influence or other factors.

Here's a quick list of roles that a blogger might play:

  • Journalist
  • Analyst
  • Customer
  • Competitor
  • Partner
  • Supporter
  • Opponent

And just to keep things interesting, a blogger might change hats for any given post.

James Governor described how SAP engages bloggers at events for journalists and analysts and in its developer (partner) program. We've seen blog monitoring for proactive customer service. How about the others? Is segmenting bloggers by the role they play helpful for deciding how to engage them?

John Simonds looks at a similar question from an organizational perspective and doesn't reach a conclusion. In a large company with distinct communications, analyst relations, investor relations, and other outreach functions, "blogger relations" touches them all. And then there's customer service—remember the issues that started with dissatisfied customers? In smaller companies with fewer communications roles, the problem is simpler, but there's still the need to connect with other functions.

Maybe "blogger relations" is a coordinating function—monitoring, analyzing, and tracking a company's engagements with bloggers while existing functions engage the bloggers in their spheres.

Update: I've outlined the responsibilities for a social media relations role in a new post.

About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
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