10 Tips for Better Blogger Outreach
Most campaigns we work on these days contain some element of influencer marketing such as inviting bloggers to a launch party, sending them product or giving them access to exclusive content.
Everyone needs their brand advocates and blogger outreach is a great way of engaging your potentially most valuable fans.
There are some huge pitfalls though, and having been both sides of the blogger/marketer relationship here are my ten tips for getting the most out of advocacy programs.
1. Be remarkable
Is this something that would naturally get traction online (be honest, would you personally share it?)? If the answer is ‘no’ your campaign is flawed and influencers can’t help it. If the answer is ‘yes’ then seeding this out to relevant bloggers could give the campaign a cost-effective boost. All too often influencer outreach is used to give wings to poor campaigns (or save failing ones), but as is the case with much social media marketing (including Facebook Sponsored Stories for example), the time and money you spend is only one half of the equation, with content quality being the other.
2. Think about how it will look to the outside world
Weetabix should really have followed this piece of advice. Last year they sponsored 15 young children to wear branded clothing on their busiest day of the week to show that they could pack more in to a day after eating Weetabix. Internally this would have felt like a celebration of the day’s most important meal and the role it plays in an active, healthy lifestyle. Externally however, the perception was quite different – that children were being sold to the mass-producing food overlords. Step outside your brand bubble for a second before pressing ‘Go’!
3. Build long-term relationships
It is amazing to me how few agencies remember this. In marketing we take each campaign as it comes and are used to transient media such as billboards, newspapers and web ads having short shelf lives. Influencers are different though, they live on, they’re still there being influential about football or knitting long after you’ve moved on to your next campaign.
If you sent a blogger something (or somewhere) nice you’ve started a positive relationship that will grow in value over time. Simply by staying in touch you can ask that person for feedback, insights and ideas over time, which they’ll be happy to help with. And when you engage them in a campaign they become a better and stronger advocate each time.
Take a little time to tend those relationships and reap the rewards in the long run.
4. Let influencers in
It costs no money to do this but is another oft-missed opportunity to strengthen relations with influencers. Make your advocates feel special by offering privileged information about the company, its products and plans for the future (where confidentiality allows).
People love this because it makes them feel VIP, and makes them start to love your brand as much as you do. This is also an opportunity to gain feedback from the very people your product needs to initially appeal to.
5. Feed an existing appetite
This is something you should be researching at the inception of a campaign: Are people talking about this online already? It sounds obvious but many of us forget this important bit of market research in the early stages of creating a campaign. In all social media it is easier and more effective to join existing conversations and communities than trying to create new ones.
6. Size doesn’t matter
By catering for everything from Aardvark conservation to er, Zulu xylophones and everything in-between the internet has had a dramatic impact on modern culture. Far from the tabloid perception that we’ve become a world of talent show-watching, auto-tune-pop-listening idiots the internet has facilitated a world which is a rich tapestry of super-served niches.
Every niche has its leaders and influencers, the more specialised the niche the more relative power these key voices have, and the most passionate audiences are often so small that they recognise each other on forums and blogs. When researching advocates ensure you include these smaller, specialised influencers, as well as broader targets. Their Klout score may not be huge but they have more sway over their audience than almost anyone.
7. Be relevant
Sounds obvious but as anyone with a blog will tell you, we get the weirdest requests for coverage and most of them are just not relevant to our subject area. It is far more valuable to approach five hand-picked, relevant blogs to approach than fire an email at anyone who publishes words. Which brings us on to…
8 Keep it personal
“Dear blogger, we have reviewed your site and would love you to feature this infographic…” is how too many emails sent to me about my and my company’s blog begin. Needless to say they never get coverage or a reply as I consider these spam. I remember the first blogger outreach campaign I did as a marketer in which I contacted around fifty parenting bloggers personally about a new family-oriented car. I did make a standard email to send to them but customised the intro to include their name and a short sentence about their site, proving that I had actually read their site. Most of the emails I received back started by thanking me for “actually reading the site”. They thanked me! A good start to the relationship and all because I took a little longer to take some genuine interest in their work.
9 Be clear about what you want to achieve
Many marketers are afraid of being frank about what their aims are, afraid that bloggers will be put off if they’re honest about ‘dirty’ corporate objectives. But influencers are well aware of why you’re contacting them, they are after all their own brand managers and marketers.
Be clear about the SEO lift or positive awareness you’re aiming for and most bloggers will not only understand but be able to create content which leans towards those aims.
Honesty goes a long way in social media!
10 Respect disclosure
Earlier this year a Snickers campaign involving Katie Price and Rio Ferdinand, in which they tweeted out-of-character statements like this…
Large scale quantitative easing in 2012 could distort liquidity of govt. bond market.
— Katie Price/Jordan (@MissKatiePrice) January 22, 2012
… and later revealed they weren’t themselves because they were hungry, earned Mars a slapped wrist from the ASA and some negative PR.
Lack of disclosure upfront can get you in hot water not only with the ASA but also with the advocate’s audience – many of Jordan’s followers asked her if she’d been hacked and felt sorely deceived when it transpired to be an advert.
Ultimately, if you’ve followed the guidelines above it should be a natural fit for the influencer to make a very transparent statement about why they love your company. To add simple disclosure statements to any output you can also use the simple and effective http://cmp.ly/ service which provides you with a short link to point readers to for more information.
Will Francis is Director of London digital and social media agency – Harkable