Companies like General Mills are finding that bloggers are a great way to reach customers and generate buzz about a product.
General Mills has recruited bloggers, mostly moms, to review and give away products. The bloggers are not compensated in any way other than free product.
As a matter of fact, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that bloggers who endorse a product must disclose connections with the seller of the product or service. That includes free products for review.
Companies hope that bloggers’ reviews are positive. In the meantime, they are building warmer relationships with consumers by placing the product with the blogger. If the blogger seems to like the product, the consumers become more interested and is more likely to buy it.
BlogHer is a heavily trafficked blog that connects advertisers with women bloggers and their readers. The blog attracts millions of visitors and the attention of major companies like Ford, Proctor & Gamble, Kraft and Sprint, which buys ads. You can find exclusive offers here from HomeGoods, Laughing Cow Cheese, Jimmy Dean, and other companies that run sweepstakes and contests. You can also win prizes and gift cards and get coupons.
Retailers use blog sites to make special offers that engage customers. When CVS drug store promoted its “$25 gift card for a friend, get a $5 for yourself,” sales increased. When The Container Store and Uno tried the “buy one, get one” deal, they saw a 10 fold increase in sales.
What it really boils down to is this: Retail chains, restaurants, and consumer product companies are using blog sites as media outlets, the same as newspapers and magazines. Bloggers help create brand awareness and give products a warm and fuzzy feel, without the high cost of advertising.