Michelle Maskaly//May 9, 2014//
Michelle Maskaly //May 9, 2014//
BlogPaws, a social media conference for the pet industry, kicked off Thursday at The Westin in Lake Las Vegas by welcoming hundreds of pet professionals, including bloggers, manufacturers, retailers and journalists for three days of learning, networking and education.
The conference, being held for the sixth time in 5 years, brings together manufacturers and pet-specific bloggers to not only learn about social media, but also interact, meet and learn from each other.
For companies like Merrick, the chance to meet such a large, concentrated group of pet consumers is a great opportunity.
“It is a great learning experience,” said Betsy Berger, communications manager for Merrick. “We hear about the issues and questions consumers have, and because they [bloggers] have a vast social network, they are able to share information with people.”
Many of the manufacturers, or sponsors, at BlogPaws, agree that the work they do reaching out to influential bloggers at events like this, is just one part of their larger marketing plan that, in the end, will benefit retailers.
“It’s grassroots marketing,” said Jim Carney, sales manager at Weruva. “It brings it to a personal level. You get the personal edge that you get at massive trade shows. You can meet bloggers who care about what they feed their pets and they can influence other pet owners.”
And, Carney would know. He spent 10 years as the manager/buyer at Treat Your Pet, a retail store in New York.
“The independent retailer has to compete with the big money [of big box stores],” he said. “This allows people to direct them to the independent retailer.”
Weruva has been working with BlogPaws, who also executes blogger outreach campaigns, since earlier this year on a successful program that allows bloggers to try their products and write about them.
“We had people who truly care about their pets and want to feed them the best,” he said, explaining that the bloggers were able to sample and review their product prior to the campaign and then got to meet them in person to answer any additional questions they might have.
Berger, like many of the manufacturers, concurred.
“We want people coming into the store and asking for our food,” she said.
Jones Natural Chews was one company that early on embraced the blogger community as a way to move their brand forward and introduce themselves to a new audience. In fact, they hired a blogger to write for them, and basically become the public face of the company.
“She is always educating people and getting our name out there,” said Suzanne Madenis, of Jones Natural Chews. “We started to branch out. Blogging [and social media] isn’t everything for the future, but a lot of people are looking at it.”
In terms of attending BlogPaws, and connecting directly with consumers who use their blogs as a platform of information, it is a smart business investment.
“As far as brand recognition goes, it is awesome,” Madenis said. “Then, they will start looking for our product in the stores.”