This post is by Jessica Miller-Merrell, a leadership blogger at Blogging4Jobs. She is a digital strategist with a passion for recruitment, human resources, training and social media and is the author of “Tweet This! Twitter for Business,” a how-to business guide for Twitter.
The mommy and female blogging subculture amazes and perplexes many at the same time. Blogging and building your brand is big business for bloggers, especially when it comes to women. According to eMarketer, blog advertising will reach $746 million by 2012. This doesn’t include sponsorships and product reviews, which fuel many relationships among public relations firms and bloggers.
Product reviews are pushed at conferences such as BlogHer, held in San Diego this week, with nearly 3,500 female and mom bloggers in attendance. These bloggers are bombarded by choice by brands offering product samples, promotional materials and contests in hopes that they’ll blog, tweet and Facebook their product testimonials and endorsements. Such testimonials happen to be big business for brands, many of them represented at mommy and blogger conferences such as BlogHer and BlogWorld. Fifty-five percent of social media moms said they made a purchase because of a recommendation from a personal review blog or website.
The opportunity for bloggers to gain sponsorship and advertising dollars is big business, but it’s swag that drives the mommy-blogger madness. Much like the Black Friday shopping frenzy, women rush the expo floor and attend invite-only brand parties, leaving with bags of swag. “My swag from conferences like BlogHer makes for really great Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews,” said Tamara Walker, who blogs at MomRN.com. I met up with Walker right before dinner, as she walked to drop off three bags of swag in her hotel room before heading out again to three or four more events in the evening.
The race for swag is part of what makes conferences aimed at bloggers special. Wendy Piersall, author of “Mom Blogging for Dummies,” said, “Brands at conferences like [BlogHer] know not every blogger is going to write about them. Brands have a formula in place. That’s the nature of this kind of conference. Hoarding swag is in poor taste, yes, but it’s not unethical.”
Swag hoarding and the unethical nature that Piersall mentioned came under fire two years ago when an exchange between a brand and a blogger went viral at BlogHer. Crocs was handing out shoes to bloggers and ran out, making one female blogger unhappy. She threatened to ruin the company if she didn’t receive her swag.
“This makes all mommy bloggers look bad when you do this,” Piersall said. “It garners the wrong kind of attention. You can’t just take, take, take and not offer any value back.”