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A few weeks ago, the folks at Nintendo dropped by Heather Armstrong's house for a Wii Fit party. Armstrong, who is better known as uber-blogger Dooce, invited 10 of her friends and later blogged the event. An added bonus was that Nintendo gave Dooce 5 Wiis along with 5 Wii Fits, to give away to 5 of her readers.

Here's where it gets interesting.

First, Dooce blogged that she loved the Wii Fit, and that Nintendo
wasn't paying her to blog about the product, or to give 5 sets away to
her reader. She explains that:

I get approached to do
things like this all the time, but this is the first time I've done a
give away because this is a product I use, something in my house,
something I'd love to share with you. Nintendo is not paying me to do
this, and just to clear up some confusion, I would never accept money
to post about anything here. That's not how this website works.
Everything you see in my style section is something I have bought with
my own money or is a gift sent to me from one of my readers, a gift I
would have gone out and bought had I known about it beforehand,
something that fits right in with my aesthetic. I work very hard to
make sure that you can trust that what I say here is in no way
influenced by advertisers or corporations who are trying to reach a
bunch of eyeballs. Your eyeballs deserve as much.

She then announced that she would pick the winners at random from among
those that left a comment to that post.  The contest would run for 2
days, at which time the comments to the post would be turned off.

When the smoke cleared, 42,232 comments were left for that one post. 

I'm trying to wrap my mind around what exactly the ROI is for this idea
of Nintendo's.  The 'retail' cost of the 5 sets of Wiis and Wii Fits
they gave Dooce is around $1,800.00.  In exchange, they got an product
endorsement from one of the most influential bloggers on the planet,
resulting in 42,000 comments.  And the post itself has been linked to by another 40+ blogs,
so there's that extra exposure.  And we know that the post was viewed
at least 42,000 times, odds are that it was viewed a minimum of a few
hundred thousand times.

All for a likely actual cost
to Nintendo of around $1,000.00.  In exchange, Nintendo got a post from
one of the most popular bloggers on the planet, gushing about its
product.  And oh yeah, the 42,000 comments.

Good or bad move for Nintendo?

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier