Every time I turn around there is a new company setting up shop in the Fire, EMS, and Police markets. These new and typically smaller businesses are doing their research. They are investing the time to create a social media rich marketing plan.
Larger businesses are doing the same, although this is probably in part because the marketing firms they are hiring use social media as much as they can. The firms see the value in it.
Whether it is a small business with a small budget or a larger business with a large budget, they are basically doing the same thing… in theory.
Utilizing Facebook to connect with your customers is a vital marketing task that usually takes a skillful eye and many hours to stay on top of. Twitter is similar, however the reach is not as wide. That reach doesn’t matter though…you cannot pass up the opportunity to connect with a customer.
Bloggers are a key point in this connection. Why? That is simple…we have followers. Tribes, if you will. Most bloggers are connected to other bloggers and the whole social media thing is [BAM] connecting thousands of people!
Many bloggers are very connected with social media. Even so, many socially connected firefighters, EMT’s, and even some police officers who don’t blog in the beginning end up creating a blog in the end.
So what about this spokespersons claim I made in the title of this article?
Here is the thing…Fire,EMS, and Police don’t really have many “Celebrities”. Outside of the Editor in Chiefs of our trade magazines or the women and men who teach at almost every event there aren’t many ultra-recognizable names in our fields. For the Firefighters you might think Bobby Halton, Tim Sendelbach, Billy Goldfeder, Rick Lasky, Alan Brunacini, for a couple of examples. Even then, my view is skewed because I write about some of these guys, have followed them for years, and recognize someone who knows what they are talking about when I see it. Those guys have put in decades of time teaching, creating, writing, and spreading the word of what they know. They have been there and done that. I know it, you know it, everyone SHOULD know it.
Again, what about the spokespersons claim in the title?
Companies want to spread the word of their products and services. They want to make it as affordable and effective as possible. Sure, having a picture of a big name celebrity firefighter holding the newest innovative product on a banner can have a positive effect on the product and company. But what is the reach? What is the cost?
Similarily compare print advertising to online advertising.
Does that person post about the product on their blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.? What is their reach? What is their cost?
This is where bloggers come in. Fire, EMS, and other Public Safety bloggers have reach that most companies do not realize. Thousands of loyal readers, thousands of facebook friends, thousands of facebook fan page “likes”, thousands of twitter followers. Each of those mediums feed to more and more people. A single blogger could have a reach of more than 10,000 people.
When I think of spokesperson, I don’t mean on television spots. I mean creating a working relationship between companies and bloggers.
Think of Zoll’s collaberation with Chronicles of EMS (ChroniclesofEMS.com). Justin Schorr, Mark Glencorse, Ted Setla and many more could be seen at the Zoll booth at conventions. I saw first hand how having these “celebrities” on hand really drew in a crowd. It seemed a lot more effective than just having the sales persons walking around in the booth all day. It gave people another reason to stop in and say hello. Hell, I did it.
Another example is Willie Wines Jr. (IronFiremen.com) being in the MN8 Products booth at Firehouse Expo. Willie will also be at the MN8 booth at Fire Rescue International. People come up to him all day long to meet him.
How does it work?
It is really this simple…Willie blogs about where he is going to be (advertising the company and/or product) and when people get to the conference they seek him out.
Sure, having busty tall blond booth babes works very well too. But that typically just gets guys to stop and stare for a little while. Having a personality that many people know prior to the show in your booth can be an even bigger draw. Plus, what do those booth babes know about your product? You probably gave them a 5 minute crash course on your product and expect them to be experts. Once they leave the show they aren’t going to write about the fun they had, the people they met, publish pictures from your booth, or any of that.
But it doesn’t have to be at exhibit halls only.
Product reviews, advertising on blogs, and simply communicating with bloggers are other ways to engage bloggers and make use of their social networks.
It is about connecting, networking, and working together.
More about this in the future!
As for bloggers, here are two steps you can do to increasing your branding and making it a little more personal…
- Make sure your readers know who you are. Include a picture of yourself on your blog. Do you really want to be known as an avatar? Quit hiding behind your banner and logo.
- Don’t shy away from who you are. If people want to know who it is being the blog let them know. After all, if you are writing about something shouldn’t you stand behind it.
Fire Critic Note:
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