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7 practical steps for engaging with bloggers

Ideas for improving your blogger outreach

In a world where consumers are bombarded by advertising, how can you cut through the noise to deliver your brand message in a meaningful manner?

Word of mouth recommendations are nothing new, but with the evolution of social media, recommendations can now reach hundreds if not thousands or millions of people. Then of course, there’s the new breed of influencer - the blogger.

With established communities, bloggers command authority and trust from their readers having spent years honing their writing skill and content, studying their analytics and engaging with their readers. They know their audience better than anyone else and can talk about your brand in a way that they know their readers will relate to.

A positive opinion about a brand or product by a blogger can be transferred to their audience, resulting in referral traffic and sales.

So, we’ve established that there’s significant value in engaging bloggers, but how do you get bloggers to want to work with you and to talk about your brand?

Influence Bloggers to talk about your brand

  • 1. Preparation

Before you start sourcing relevant bloggers to contact, spend some time working out what it is that you’re hoping to achieve, who your target audience is and what success looks like.

Most importantly, establish why a blogger would want to talk about your brand to their readers. Are you offering them products to review? Will your content drive traffic to their site? Are you giving them an experience of some kind such as an exclusive event? Asking this question will allow you to create a compelling offer for bloggers, making you more likely to succeed.

Define what it is that you want from the blogger and be upfront about it to them. Do you want them to tweet? Write a post? Write multiple posts? Share their content on your properties? The more information that you can provide upfront will allow them to set their expectations and then there won’t be any unpleasant surprises along the way.

  • 2. Research

If you’re approaching a blogger because you have something that they’d want to share with their readers, make sure that you’ve spent time reading their site. This will tell you about their attitude towards brand collaborations and often they will clearly state whether or not they write reviews or are ‘PR friendly’.

This type of research will also give you good insight to whether yours is the type of brand that they’ve written about in the past and therefore likely to engage with you. Lastly, always check and respect their contact wishes, if they prefer to be contacted via their site, email, Twitter or phone, make sure that you contact them this way.

  • 3. Build Rapport

Take some time to follow their social channels, this will give you an insight to their interests and personalities. It will also also give you an opportunity to start to engage with them so that they recognise your name and the things that you have in common. What’s more, if you can see on Twitter that they’re sick or on holiday, you’ll know to hold off of getting in touch with them. First impressions mean everything.

  • 4. Flexibility

Don’t be afraid to approach bloggers and ask how you might collaborate with them. They will have worked with many brands in the past and will know what works for their readers. If they have some say into what they’re getting involved with, they’ll have a greater sense of ownerships, generating more authentic advocacy.

  • 5. Customise

So many companies try to save time by sending a standard message cut and paste to every blogger. Bloggers get this type of contact all of the time and won’t be fooled. Spend the time to tailor your message, making it personal and where possible try and explain why you thought that your proposition might be relevant to their site. The investment in time will pay off.

  • 6. Editorial Control

Recognise that you can’t control the content that the blogger writes in their post about you (unless you’re paying them and they’ve agreed to this). The blogger has complete editorial control and a recommendation or review will be much more authentic when written in their style, in keeping with their usual posts. Also, don’t expect to review a post before it goes live, it won’t happen.

  • 7. Follow Up

Once you’ve contacted the blogger, give them some time to come back to you. Don’t be afraid to follow-up with them, sometimes your message ends up getting lost or they’ve received so many that they’ve forgotten to reply. It’s best to check. However, if they aren’t interested, handle the decline with dignity. It’s better to build long-term relationships than short-term gains.

Make sure that you follow-up on the promises that you have made to bloggers. If you have said that you’ll send assets over, make sure that you do it in a timely manner so that it’s still relevant. Where possible, if the blogger is kind enough to write about your brand, try and show their link some love using your social channels too. They’ll appreciate the recognition. Be sure to also email them to thank them.

The likelihood is that if you’ve done your job well, you’ll be able to work with them again in the future and will have a better understanding of them as a person and how they work.

Therefore it’s fundamental that you stay in touch after the campaign and don’t just 'dump them' because they’ve created the content that you were looking for. Be sure to check in with them, even if it’s replying to a tweet.

Above all else, actually give a damn. If you pay interest in the blogger and how they work, you’re much more likely to get a positive response, especially if you’re authentic in your approach. The effort that you put in will be repaid and can generate life-long advocacy. It’s worth it.

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