As I’ve observed before, enlisting bloggers to do marketing offers some interesting possibilities and limitations. Unlike the case with mainstream media, you can choose exactly which person will receive an advance copy of your product (preferably someone who will like it), and the blogger is likely to feel flattered that you even took her seriously enough to contact her. A blog often also has a tightly defined readership, so by choosing the right blogger you can usually reach a very specific target market. The main drawback is of course that of readership: you can be reasonably sure to get a favourable review from a blogger, but it won’t reach as many people as the MSM do.
I recently registered Aardvarchaeology with Bloggtoppen.se, a Swedish blog ratings site with thematic sections. The science section isn’t very large and consists almost entirely of blogs in Swedish, so mine immediately plonked down on numero uno. And it didn’t take long before I received an invitation from the Swedish Institute for the 25 January unveiling of Linnaeus300.com, their web site celebrating Swedish science and the tricentennial anniversary of Carolus Linnaeus.
It’s a very pretty site offering quite a lot of content. Every week a new Big Question is answered briefly by a Swedish scientist. “What’s the smallest thing we can see?” “Can biology explain God?” “How do flowers know when it’s time to bloom?” I talked to the people behind the site and got the impression that it’s intended to open the eyes of the world to Swedish science by riding on the fame of Linnaeus. Like most of the Swedish Institute’s work, it’s basically an exercise in branding, and the brand in question is Sweden. There’s only nine million Swedes and people tend to confuse us with the Swiss — “Aha, Sweden! Chocolate, Alps, watches and banking!”.
Being a Swedish scientist, I of course hope the site will serve its purpose and bring us many EU research grants, guest scholars and exchange students, to enrich us and our gene pool. However, I must say that I don’t quite understand who will ever look more than once at the site. I mean, I certainly don’t spend my evenings browsing web sites advertising the greatness of French, Australian or Japanese (or Swiss) science. But maybe one visit will be enough.