On Monday, Umbria announced a new service that helps marketers to answer what is becoming a more and more common question – which bloggers are most influential for my brand or industry? While there are many tools and methods that can be used to uncover these bloggers, the Umbria Connect service promises to provide marketers with "a monthly list of bloggers (URLs) based on your selects for age and gender that spoke either positively or negatively about your topic of interest." Similar in scope to what email list providers have been doing for many years now, it seems to be positioned as a quick and easy solution for organizations to skip the time consuming research phase of identifying key bloggers and focus their efforts on engagement. To ensure quality results, Umbria describes a methodology of "cleansing the data using a 3-step process that includes using machine learning algorithms and human review to remove spam, false positives, and other data that aren’t pertinent to the clients defined topics."
As a tool, I see a lot of promise in this new service – assuming it is coupled with a smart social media marketing strategy. Just as with email lists, you need to understand what you are purchasing and what the rules of engagement are. Blindly reaching out to any list of bloggers provided in a report by anyone is unlikely to work – and more likely to result in backlash. Umbria Connect offers a great way to save time, but not at the expense of ignoring the first principle of pitching bloggers … reading their blogs. Regardless, it will be interesting to see if bloggers in particular industries start to see an increase in attention from marketers and advertisers as a result of tools like Umbria’s. Assuming it leads to more ad dollars and better pitches, that could be a good thing. Let’s see if it turns out that way.