You are going to be reading a lot of Blogs in the next little while where the Blogger is either being paid or given free product to shill some wares in their own personal space.
That's one of the big things that happens when a big interactive conference like SXSW takes place. In fact, Media Hacks co-host, author of both Trust Agents (along with Julien Smith) and Social Media 101 business books, and all-around good guy, Chris Brogan, just posted, Nikon Just Let Me Use a New Camera, to his Blog. It's interesting to read his perspective on Blogger outreach...
"First, I'm telling you, 'Hey, look! Nikon wants you to see me making their camera take fuzzy shots because I'm not a good photographer, but darn it - they like me!' Second, I'm saying, 'as marketers, take a look at this kind of outreach and ask yourself what's the yield. Believe me, if I somehow magically convince you that even I can use this camera, which is possible maybe, then how many will I be selling?"
Remember, it's not about "how many" people you put your message in front of, it's about "who" you put your message in front of.
Brands need to spend more time understanding the community they serve. Blogs are not a mass media channel. Even the most popular Blogs are really just big niches. Trying to pump a camera (or any product/service) into the hands of a Blogger simply because they have a significant audience is not going to have even close to the same effect as it would if you were to choose a handful of Bloggers with significantly smaller audiences, but who would actually have an appreciation and interest in what your brand is all about. This is also not a case of calling out Nikon for a lack of understanding when it comes to Social Media marketing (full disclosure: Fujifilm is an active client of Twist Image and I don't think anyone in their right mind would question the quality of Nikon cameras or their marketing).
It's about the smaller (not bigger) picture.
Marketing needs to think small (and, while I'm on this kick of pimping Seth Godin books - see yesterday's post: Boring Brands - check out Small Is The New Big). Social Media marketing (and Blogger outreach, in particular) is only going to yield results when a brand can figure out who the real key voices are in Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc... and manages to connect with them, add value to their community and help the overall community be more engaged.
Everything else is just traditional mass media advertising using new channels and platforms (you know, the same kind of stuff that the average consumer attempts to avoid at all costs).