Working with bloggers: On-the-job experience and tips from Dax Villanueva
Why work with a blogger?
Bloggers have their finger on the pulse when it comes to trends and are often thought of as more credible as opposed to traditional media when endorsing a certain product or brand. Their followers can be very niche so if a relevant blogger is chosen, brands are assured that their message will reach their target audience. Not only is a blog post published immediately, it also provides long term exposure as unless the post is deleted by the blogger, it will remain on google; whether good or bad. Where traditionally media only have one channel of communication, the majority of bloggers have multiple channels, which results in more bang for your buck, when it comes to exposure.
Tip: Always remember: bloggers want great content; it’s what drives their blog. And ideally exclusive content.
How to select a blogger?
This is the first and most important step; research! There are various platforms to keep in mind when searching for the right fit, such as Webfluential, a blogger’s blogroll (a list of hyperlinks to other blogs or websites), Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. To narrow it down, have a transparent method rating system when selecting the appropriate blogger e.g. analytics is given a very low rating while engagement is a great yardstick. It’s imperative that the blogger hasn’t ‘bought’ i.e. Paid for their following as posts will not be seen by a relevant audience. Also, check to see if the blogger optimises their reach. It’s all fair and well if they are active on social media but are they driving their content on other platforms too? It’s also important to match the personality of a blogger with your brand as contrary to popular belief, not all bloggers have larger than life personalities so if you’d like the blogger to attend events and be a live spokesperson, then it’s important to engage someone who feels comfortable away from his/her laptop.
How to approach bloggers?
Read the actual blog! Take the time to read the posts, share, like and engage with them. You might discover all sorts of things that you never knew previously, such as do they work with competitive brands, what do they like/dislike and who their audience is, etc.?
Tip: Be upfront with a blogger: verbalise what you want and what your expectations are, make sure it’s clear; never assume.
How to provide value to a blogger?
There are four ways to do this; money, the preferred currency! It takes hours to draft a good blog post and to get a substantial following so it is only fair for a blogger to request compensation. It’s a job after all! A free night’s stay at a luxurious hotel is great but it’s not a sustainable currency to maintain a profession. If budget is tight and money isn’t an option, offer the blogger exposure. This is also a valuable currency for a blogger as exposure is what drives traffic to the blog at the end of the day. Mention the blogger on your social media platforms or link them to contacts. But, never overdo it; as this could have a detrimental effect on the campaign as it impacts the credibility. Small gestures such as providing VIP treatment at your event, go along way too as it gives them cred among peers and following. The third way is to contribute to their traffic by following, sharing, commenting and engaging with their posts to drive traffic to their pages. It took hours to write that post. Offering original content that’s unique and exclusive is important too as this contributes significantly to an increase in their following in a very competitive industry. Lastly, product. This is the least preferred but if it’s your only option, ensure you research whether or not the blogger actually likes the product you’re planning to offer and that it aligns with the blog. For example, does the blogger drink alcohol or is he/she against any types of products? This is easy to find out as bloggers are usually very verbal about their likes/dislikes.
Tip: Instead of presenting a blogger with an elaborate drop, rather offer them a pay check!
Is a drop valuable?
Many believe that a blog post is the most valuable outcome that comes from a blogger partnership. Actually due to the fact that visual communication has skyrocketed, a picture, tweet or Facebook post can be just as effective and therefore a clever drop could do wonders. There are however a few considerations to take into account. Tell the blogger what you’d like to send; No need to keep it a secret as after all you are asking for a person’s address so it’s only fair that they’re aware of what they’ll be receiving. Also, make it clear from the get go what you expect from the gift to eliminate any confusion or disappointment. Lastly, email! Bloggers usually have a 9-5 job too and don’t have the time to take calls during the day and so prefer email. If it’s of interest to them, they’ll will respond.
Tip: there is no standard for anything in the blog world
How to invite a blogger to your event.
Inviting bloggers is a great idea as they are seasoned pros at creating hype around a certain occasion. But there are a few things to keep in mind when extending an invite. Never send it last minute; this is terrible for your relationship as they are very aware that they were not on your A list. Unless you don’t expect anything from inviting them to the event, always ensure that they are given the VIP treatment, whether it be a private seating area or bar and entrance; offer something! Also, create an exciting and unique event/experience and you may not have to pay anything for a post or two.
Tip: Be honest and transparent, communicate what you want from the blogger’s attendance. Is it purely for relationship purposes or do you want them to let their following know about your event?
Is a press release really necessary?
Press releases do not appeal to bloggers at all but if you feel there’s a need to share your story, avoid anything long winded. Instead opt for short punchy to-the-point content that catches their attention straight away. Always hyperlink relevant parties e.g. your client or campaign so that if the blogger hasn’t got the capacity to use the information in a blog post, they can still use the links to send out as a Tweet. To make it more convenient, ensure that all social media handles and hashtags are included. An image can be so valuable but remember to send them via a link to avoid blocking their inbox. Dropbox is a good option as is Webtransfer.
Tip: Ideally bloggers need exclusive content to benefit them and their following. Perhaps suggest an exclusive window time or brainstorm a unique angle together.
Lastly, capitalise on your efforts!
Once the blog post is out there, capitalise on it and make the most of it. There are a few guidelines on how to maximise your exposure from bloggers that you need to keep in mind, such as time of posting. If you’re going to share a piece of coverage, consider when your audience is online. Otherwise, there is no point as your followers won’t see your post and it will be a missed opportunity. It’s recommended to work closely with a blogger in terms of the content and time frames and it’s a great way to ensure you’re in sync. Have clear goals set out from the beginning before initiating the partnership, i.e. establish what your objectives are; micro (sign ups) or macro (more sales) conversions. Finally, constantly create conversations and respond to your audiences to capitalise on these online opportunities.
Tip: Carry on the conversation. Even after your event has passed or you’ve reached your target sign-ups! Bloggers are people after all and relationships are key.