In July this year I met with Melissa and Brenda from the Digital Parents Collective as part of a PR strategy to get more people experiencing and talking authentically about the RedBalloon brand. We were eager to speak to a collection of independent bloggers, who had the capacity and audience with whom to spark genuine conversations about our experiences and brand.
As part of the blogger outreach program, we wanted to highlight the memorable nature of RedBalloon experiences, and really capture the heart of what we do – make people happy and provide them with memories for years to come. Digital Parents represents a collection of bloggers who are also mothers with highly engaged fans who care about what they have to say and the products and brands they align themselves with. These women are highly trusted advocates who do not take that responsibility lightly – they are honest and forthcoming in their views and reviews.
This was not a campaign based on paying for positive reviews – we provide our product free of charge and assist the bloggers to book their experiences, but they each receive the same service any other customer would. And they are all transparent in telling their followers exactly what is going on. In the past we have had bloggers receive less than amazing experiences, and we have never sought to censor that conversation – the RedBalloon brand integrity dictates that every customer should have a voice.
From the get go, working with Digital Parents has been an absolute pleasure. Their organisation of our 12 #redballoonmums has been incredible. The campaign was set up so that we would see a constant stream of a wide range of experience reviews – aiming for one review every week for a year, dialled up at key times like Christmas. This has also been supported with a structured, yet engaging approach to social sharing, with Facebook, the RedBalloon blog and Twitter playing an integral part.
We set the campaign up under a six month trial period, and after only four months we agreed to go ahead for the full year. The value we were seeing from the wonderful content was far beyond my expectation, and the bloggers are having a wonderful time too.
For us, this was never about measuring a precise ROI. Public relations and content creation are not about sales. It is not advertising. We can never accurately know how many customer we may have created off the back of this campaign, and this was never the intention. We have offered exclusive promo codes to readers with a discount if they do wish to make a purchase, and we are able to measure sales that come from these. If people make a purchase now or later down the line because of a genuine review they have read, that’s great – but this campaign is about more than that. We want to create a feeling and start a conversation about the RedBalloon brand.
That’s not to say we’re not measuring the campaign success in other ways. We have a budget attached to this so that dictates we must be able to see value in the relationship. We can see from the 16 blogs already live that the engagement is high – some blogs have seen almost 300 comments, highly positive toward RedBalloon and shared across social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and Pinterest. The interaction we are seeing with our brand from this new audience is proof that this is a two-way dialogue, and we are creating genuine (not paid for) brand advocates. In addition, these reviews provide value to the third party suppliers we represent – this is something we cannot put a price tag on.