Consumers used to be only on the receiving end, taking in whatever information advertisers wants to let out. But online media has opened a new path that allows consumers to be the source of information, to judge and decide what to say. We call this people, bloggers.
I stumbled upon http://blog2u.sg/ today, and out of interest, signed up as a member. However, I am rather skeptical about the system that goes in there. I would say there's both sides of the coin to this portal. What it does, is that it links bloggers and advertisers together. The advertiser will have to pay (in monetary of course) to put a banner ad, a sponsored post or a sponsored review on the blogger's site. It can also come in the form of an invitation to a product launch, event or link to partner's sites etc.
Somehow, I'm just thinking, is this the best and most appropriate method to execute social PR? The primary objective of reaching target audience through social PR is to bypass advertising. But isn't "banner ad" or a "sponsored post", simply just advertising end of the day? And "paying" someone to write something simply won't give you an honest posting. Hence, that defies the evolution of social media and its realiability in the long term.
PR is all about building relationships. The relationship should be transparent, honest and sincere. When identifying suitable bloggers to talk about a product, we should first be sure that these are trustworthy people who are not simply living off posted advertisements. And who are the people reading the blogs? Does the product simply want mass awareness? Or targeted awareness? We should remember that no one medium can reach out to everyone. This is especially evident on the internet, where freedom of choice rules the cyberworld. Hence, we should take into consideration power of multiplication. Is this target group we have chosen the best people to spread the word? How many tiers can it lead to? Which is more effective? Selling the technical specification of a product/event or selling the experience of a product/event?
I think http://blog2u.sg/ will be useful for many direct advertisers, who wish to save the dollars from a good digital PR agency. But I would still suggest, the internet has a long memory. Campaigns and good word can go a long way if the appropriate method is being explored by professionals. A hundred thousand dollars is money well-spent if objectives are met. But a dollar spent could be a dollar too much if it does not work at all.
Of course, I am not indicating that this site does not work. It probably does to a certain extend. Most of those bloggers link their posts to twitter and facebook and plurk etc. So there's still some form of extension there. However, do also remember it's probably the same people, the same links on all these different platforms.
Ask around your office, how many people (who are non-avid bloggers) uses twitter and plurk? Or even digsby? As far as I am concern, I only know of one other person who does apart from me.