For some reason, I found myself overhearing a variety of Brand-to-Brand conversations during BlogHer. As I waited for a cab, I heard two Brand representatives chatting with each other about what they thought of Bloggers at BlogHer. At another point, I was on the otherside of an expo booth where I heard two Brand employees chatting about the Bloggers they had met during the two day event.

What were they saying? Let’s just say “Not Flattering” would be the appropriate response. Everything from swag<bleep>, hoochies, and snobbers were the adjectives to describe the group as a whole; whether it be Mom, Tech, Food, or DIY Bloggers.


Frankly, though, I cannot wholly blame them.

I met those same individuals. The folks that were cutting people off in line so they could get the swag bag. Women who dressed to the nines to drink themselves into a stupor. As I mentioned in a previous post (see links below), I have no problem with that, but the brands that were watching? They do, and they walked away with an unflattering picture based on a variety of conversations I heard directly and indirectly.

However, if I could have, I would have asked the Brand, “Why were you there?”

For example, what would you think of a booth, at a conference geared towards women, that had a couple of guys dressed as stripper-like construction workers giving out chocolate granola bars from well-placed tool belts? Is it good PR or is it stereotypical? What was the point of that strategy? Being nice and just giving free granola bars? Did you want us to tweet about them? Blog about them? Buy them as consumers? Did you achieve that? On the flip side, while I appreciate free stuff, it doesn’t cover the cost of my ticket, room or airline flight. I can get a granola bar, an ice cream bar or a toy without shelling out $1000 for them. What I am there for is a connection. Information. Data I can take home. A contact card for future work. I would think that would be a goal for the Brand too.

However, my take was that most of the BlogHer Brands just wanted to get their product name in the social media space, which is a valid marketing strategy. However, I have two concerns with that. First, it shouldn’t be your only strategy. You should also use it as an opportunity to connect with Bloggers to determine if any may be a good partner in future campaigns or initiative. Second, I didn’t like the manner in which it was asked of me to help with said marketing strategy. For example, the “”tweet to win an entry for X” aspect didn’t appeal to me on most occasions. Especially when the representatives did not know how the winner would be selected or how I would learn of the winner. It often seemed like I needed to jump through hoops with only an option of winning something that I wasn’t sure was legitimate in the first place. Yet, I was expected to engage in their marketing campaign. Be clear and provide that information. Same with video. If you are going to have me sign a form so you can have me on camera, be nice and send me a copy of it or at least a link. I’d like to know where I am “floating around”. It is also a good marketing venue as well, as I probably will share a link to the video in my channels. Duo exposure for you.

There were many Brands that did get it right. HTC, LG, and Sallie Mae, for example, invited select Bloggers to focus groups and insight meetings; using the time to gather information and thanking the Bloggers for their time. Other Brands, like Daisy Cottage Cheese or Hershey had suites where you could sit and engage in a conversation to learn a bit about each other. Other Brands, like Tropicana and Gatorade brought big name celebrities. Granted, Brand budgets vary, but you could see the thought went into the event and engagement with Bloggers.

Overall, Bloggers and Brands need to ask themselves, what is their goal from BlogHer and is it the right venue for those goals. Brands need to ask themselves, what is your overall perception of Bloggers and how does (and did) that shape your sponsor strategy; whether for blogger campaigns, individual sponsorships, or conference sponsorships like BlogHer or Blissdom?

Blog conferences are growing. More and more of them are added to the schedule every year, with sponsorships and money for the taking and giving. It is even more important than ever before to make sure Brands do their homework to determine the right venue and the right group with whom to work. The same is true for Bloggers. Each side only has a set amount of money to spend. We each need to spend it wisely. With due respect too.

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  1. Amy (@amymchodges) says:

    I completely agree. There is work to do on both sides of the equation!

  2. Excelllent post, Charlene. I am still trying to determine what, if anything, I got out of my interactions with brand reps at the Expo. Very few meaningful conversations…very many “tweet this to enter” conversations. I thought the Sallie Mae event was the most informative and engaging one I attended as well.

  3. None of this surprises me. Having attended the last three BlogHer conferences, I skipped 2011. My feeling is that BH is like New Years Eve – much anticipated and planned, a whole lotta money for plenty of disappointment and unrealized goals. Maybe next year will be different but as the relationship between bloggers and brands continues to grow, it’s my opinion that the waters only become murkier.

  4. I attended the HTC Insight meetings/lounge and it was the best experience of BlogHer11. They really got it right with a mix of real info on their products, activities to engage dialogue, and unique overall experience. I was very happy to blog about it to my readers. I hope more brands put that kind of thought into their own marketing for BlogHer12.

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