MWW and Nikon: BlogHer Lessons LearnedJuly 28th, 2009
Author: Althea Haigh
Nikon’s recent participation in BlogHer illustrates the power, speed and influence of the blogging community. Nikon, a conference sponsor, also hosted an invitation-only event Friday night, designed to engage a variety of women, including style, design, food, technology and parenting bloggers. Their common bond was a shared enthusiasm for photography.
The buzz was incredible; the event a major triumph; the response from the attendees overwhelmingly positive. To everyone on-site in Chicago, the event was a smashing success.
Yet to the outside world, a slightly different story was being told, one which adversely comments on both the Nikon and MWW brands. Because misinformation is being communicated, we wanted to share the facts of the event and more importantly, the outcome.
As many of the women who attended the BlogHer conference came with their families, two women wanted to attend the Nikon Night Out event with their young children. While we politely informed them that they could not bring their babies to the cocktail event, one woman, in what she thought was a joke, tweeted #nikonhatesbabies from her Twitter account. This resulted in a storm of tweets and some misinformed blog posts from women who did not attend the event nor knew the full account of what happened. This is really unfortunate as the anticipation and excitement leading up to the event by those invited was tremendous.
These are the facts:
- Due to the time of the event, the noise level, the availability of alcohol and the proximity to water, we determined that from a safety perspective, children should not attend.
- During the event on Friday night, two people tweeted about not being able to get into the event with their babies.
- On Saturday morning, MWW and Nikon planned to contact the two women about the prior evening’s events, and the #nikonhatesbabies chatter made that even more timely. We contacted both original bloggers and asked them to stop by the Nikon booth to discuss the situation. The woman who first tweeted said it was a joke and that she did not mean any harm to Nikon. She said that her tweet had been taken out of context as a bad joke (indeed). The second expressed her dismay and embarrassment that the situation had become so inflated.
- A few marketing bloggers – who did not attend the event – started blogging about best practices while blaming Nikon and MWW for not understanding the audience.
- Following conversations with MWW and Nikon, the two women tweeted about their discussion and apologized for their impact.
- Once the corrected tweets appeared and began to circulate, other bloggers, fans and event patrons posted similar stories with the facts, and complimented Nikon on the personal response and engagement.
Clearly, some people, who did not attend either the conference or the party, used the incident to elevate themselves and their marketing expertise without bothering to confirm the facts.
We felt strongly that these two women deserved a face-to-face, personal discussion. We could have simply taken our version online and debated in public, but in doing so, would have focused on the people this DIDN’T affect, rather than the ones it did. We had great conversations with both women, walking away hopeful we had just formed a future valuable relationship with two great bloggers. There are a few interesting lessons here, including:
- Know your audience: We invited people who were interested in Nikon, cameras or photography, not exclusively moms or women with kids. Had we planned an event for only mom bloggers, the location and other logistics would have been different altogether.
- Relationships: We hosted this event to extend and continue those engaging relationships we have with blog communities. The vast majority of the online and in-person feedback about a well-received event has been positive and gracious. Knowing we built stronger ties with the bloggers because of the event, we’ll continue to do so in years to come.
- One-on-One: We learned that talking with people, hearing what they have to say, learning the facts, and questions they may have about Nikon products is one of the best ways to grow as a company. We also learned that there are many people out there who don’t listen and will jump-to-conclusions without the facts to spread misinformation.
What now? Should this scare big brands away from the increasingly real-time digital world? Not at all. In fact, this should encourage it. There was learning on both sides of the fence. Real-time opinion is just that – real-time. And it’s important to tell the whole story when all the facts are available.
In one post, a mommyblogger suggested this year’s conference had the theme of “not all bloggers are like that.” We agree and believe that the Mom in question isn’t either. We had multiple conversations with Liz Gumbinner of Blog with Integrity, and support the badge that she’s encouraging all bloggers to consider. In a real example of the blogger community policing itself, #nikonlovesbabies popped up with photos and statements as well.
Will this deter MWW or Nikon from continuing to engage and conduct open, honest and transparent dialogue with the blogger community? Of course not. We achieved our original goal to have meaningful conversation and personal interaction with bloggers and will continue to do so.
We recognize this BlogHer conference was a tipping point for corporations and bloggers to slowly come together on the same playing field. Together we should commit to letting the facts surface and put accusations on the back burner. Together, we can learn from one another and appreciate the influence and voice each of us has.