Creating influence in the next generation Internet

I just came across this post on TechCrunch today. It’s quite smart, though I think they mis-titled it (“Use Case: How Companies Can Use Photosharing Correctly“).

It isn’t about photosharing at all, but about how Nikon basically leveraged Flickr to locate a certain number of photographers it felt were talented, sent them some new products, and created an ad campaign around them.

As John Biggs (TechCruch) writes:

Nikon looked through Flickr, picked out a few great photographers, and sent them D80s, which is a really nice DSLR. They then used the photos they shot in a few advertisements and created a Flashy website detailing each of the photographers, who range from rank amateurs to professional wedding snappers.

I’ve often had clients ask about how they can “influence” the blogosphere, but usually what they want to do is run around posting comments on blogs about how wonderful their products are. Taking a very open, upfront approach, which involves identifying those you think likely to have an influence, approaching them honestly as a vendor, and finding a mutually agreeable arrangement, is much better.

What did they risk?

Well, some of the photographers could have hated their D80s, and they could have blogged about it. Knowing that, and having the confidence in your product to encourage the conversation, is what marketing in the next generation Internet is all about.

Actually makes me want a Nikon, though I take so few photos that the cost-per-photo really wouldn’t be worth it.