Before you start, I know the above picture (of Walter Johnson and Calvin Coolidge shaking hands after the Senators won the AL in 1924, which I subsequently edited) is a huge generalisation of the relationship between brands and bloggers, but I put it here because it made me laugh. Go on, laugh at it as well, it’s okay.
Hello there again. If you remember, a few weeks back I published Part 1 of a post all about how to work with bloggers. As promised, here is part 2 for your reading satisfaction. As it’s quite long, I’ve included a little-known fact at the end of the post for you, as some sort of half-baked motivation to read the whole thing (but don’t just scroll to the bottom, that’s cheating). So enjoy!
So how do you find the blogs you want to work with?
If you’ve decided that you want to work with a blogger as part of your, or your client’s, strategy, the next step you need to take is to identify all the relevant blogs you want to contact about potential partnerships and opportunities. For large companies, this may be just the one, well-known blogger, but for smaller companies and start-ups, this could be a number of blogs, ranging anywhere from five to twenty-five, to more.
A week ago I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop all about working with bloggers, run by Julie Falconer for General Assembly, and in her presentation she detailed the three Rs of identifying relevant blogs: Research, Relevance, and Reputation. I thought I’d share these with you, as I found them incredibly helpful.
This is all about how you search for blogs to contact. Now the likelihood is that you will go straight to your nearest search engine and start searching away, and by no means is this a bad idea. If anything, it’s likely the best place to find blogs. But there are also some methods beside search engines that you may not have thought of, as Julie listed.
Many, if not most, bloggers are not only active in the blogosphere, but on social media too. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, many bloggers will probably be more active on social media, so having a search on these platforms is always a great idea, if not an essential part of your research. If you have access to tools such as Followerwonk then use them!
Another interesting tip that Julie gave was to ask the question on social media. Don’t be afraid to tweet ‘Can anyone recommend a good x blogger?’ Have a look for relevant hashtags and use them too; you’ll be surprised at the amount of responses.
Many bloggers include blogrolls and lists on their sites of their favourite blogs and bloggers. These are great places to find relevant blogs in the industry you’re targeting. There are also websites that compile these lists. Cision, for example, have a plethora of top blogger lists and, while they may not all be up-to-date, they can still be a great resource.
PR officers often work with bloggers for product launches and other marketing campaigns. If you know one (or you’re not too afraid to ask one out of the blue), see if they have any contacts they could put you in touch with. PRs often have their own list of bloggers, so they can be a great source for research.
Word of mouth
Not a guaranteed source, but why not ask? You never know who you might discover.
Note: Always have a check of their metrics too. Check their Domain Authority and PageRank, as well as their social metrics, such as followers and likes. You may want to avoid blogs with a low Page Rank, especially those with -1…
So, let’s assume you’ve collected your list of blogs. It’s now time to dig a little deeper and have a good look at their on-site content. Checking for relevance is key to ensuring you only contact websites that are truly pertinent to your market and that may actually want to review your product or services. So what do you analyse?
Don’t just assume the blogger is right for you because of the name of their blog. Read a range of their posts to make sure that their actual content is relevant to your market and whether your product or service would fit in with what they regularly write about.
Who the blog markets itself to is vital. If you’re promoting new technological equipment, a blog aimed at over 55s might not be the best fit. Yes, I’m making assumptions, but you catch my drift. Look at their ‘About Me’ section, this is usually a good starting place to find out about who the blog is for. Also, read the posts and the comments, these can be useful audience insights.
If they have one, a media kit can give you a detailed picture of the blog’s demographic. It also shows they mean business.
Finally, always check where your blog is marketing to. There’s no point partnering up with a US based blog (that markets itself to US citizens) to promote your new range of English Tea. Okay, brand awareness is all well and good, but it’s useless if it’s in a country you don’t ship to or provide your services to.
The final of the three Rs is Reputation. Once you’ve done your research, identified a blog/blogs and checked they’re relevant for your industry, it’s time to evaluate whether they’re reputable enough. This isn’t always easy, and you can’t just outright ask them what their reputation is like. Fortunately, there are a few methods you can use to help make up your mind.
An easy check to do, is to look for some of their most recent product/service reviews. Do they say when they were offered the opportunity to do the review? If they say they received the product in late November, but only wrote about it in January, you may need to be slightly cautious.
Examples of previous work
Try to find an example of some previous work that they have done for a client and evaluate it. Is it of a good standard? Would your product fit in with this format? Do they use profanity? If you can’t find one, ask them if they have any and, if so, whether you might see an example.
Some of the bigger, more popular blogs may outsource work to other writers. If you’re not sure, ask them if they do and, if so, who it is they would outsource it to. You could also ask to see examples of their work, just to be sure it’s what you’re looking for.
Word of mouth
Again, it’s not always possible, but you never know! You could even ask other bloggers if you’re really not sure!
Okay, I’ve got my list, how do I approach them?
Approaching bloggers is a delicate task. If you don’t get it right the first time, they might not notice or, for that matter, even want to reply to your attempt at contact. It’s hard to know what’s worse. It’s incredibly easy to not get noticed by bloggers, especially the bigger ones that likely receive dozens of request a day. So here are a few tips to help.
Approach them as equals
When you contact your bloggers, approach them as a business partner. Treating them like a fan, or even telling them that they’ve been ‘selected’, is a sure fire way of patronising them, and ultimately ruining any potential promotional opportunities.
Get the email right
In the majority of cases, it’s more than likely you’ll use the medium of email to contact potential bloggers and, if you do, you’ve got to make sure it’s nigh perfect. The first, and in many cases the most important, aspect of your email that you need to perfect is the subject line. You need a solid one that, ideally, should include a killer call to action. Don’t be afraid to be direct in the subject line; it’s okay to start it with ‘INVITATION:’ or ‘PAID OPPORTUNITY:’. Doing this gives you a better chance of the blogger noticing your email immediately and, hopefully, not discarding it to their junk, like one of Taylor Swift’s fleeting relationships.
Secondly, make sure each email is personalised. If the first thing the blogger reads is ‘Dear Blogger’, or worse ‘Dear (Insert Blogger here)’, then you can guarantee the email is going straight to their junk folder. Also, ensure you keep a consistent font and style to your email. If the body is written in Helvetica, make sure your blogger’s name and email address aren’t in blue Calibri; this stinks of copy and paste and just looks damn tacky. If your email is written in Comic Sans, I bid you good luck, you brave soul.
Finally, make sure what you’ve written is persuasive, yet genuine. Start with a warm introduction but don’t waffle. Be enthusiastic and get straight to the point of telling them what you’re offering before you tell them about your brand; you want them intrigued immediately. Read their blog, and let them know you have. Bloggers will appreciate your feedback and will be more willing to work with someone who is genuinely interested. Even a simple line such as ‘I read your recent article about…’ can go a long way. You should also be clear and direct about what you’re offering. Keep it short and sweet, but be realistic about what they will get from your relationship.
The majority of bloggers will be involved on social media, so you should be involved too. Before you contact them, find them on Twitter (if they have it) and follow them. Simple actions like ‘favouriting’, retweeting, and replying to their tweets can help develop an early relationship so that when you come to contact them for real, they’ll already know who you are.
So was it a success?
Let’s look to the future for a minute. Imagine you’ve used all these tips, and you’ve found and contacted your bloggers. They agreed to work with you and subsequently each blogger posted reviews about your product/service. You now need to discover whether all your effort was a success, and worth the time and resources spent on it. Often it’s easy to get a top-level sense of whether it has been a success or not. For instance, you might have kept an eye on the linking articles and the response they had received. There are many ways to measure your ROI and, depending on your business goals, they might all apply, or just the one. Below are some of the important factors you might measure.
Sales and Traffic
If you’ve got a Google Analytics package, it’s easy to monitor how many views a certain page has had, as well as the medium and source these views have come from.
It’s not always easy to gauge an increase in brand awareness, but you can look at your social metrics, number of new followers, tweets etc. You could also look at the number of site views and new users in the period following the marketing campaign. If views are higher and staying higher, this may be a good marker for brand awareness.
An easy way to gauge if your event has been a success is to simply look at attendance numbers. You could also look at number of new followers, tweets, and interactions with the brand during the event for a more in-depth view.
So there we go. You got to the end, kudos to you! Here’s your fun fact: Turtles can breathe through their butt. Interesting eh? (If you just scrolled down without reading the post, shame on you. Shame I say!)
There are a plethora of ways to work with bloggers, and what may work for one, may not for another. So don’t just dive in, take some time to do your research. Whether it’s looking at the quality of their content or simply their blog statistics, some research is better than none.
This is definitely not the definitive guide to blogging, but hey one day in the future it may be.
Have I missed anything? Have I got something completely wrong? Got a tip you want to share? Let me know if I have, I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below or find me over on Twitter at @robertjmcgill