Editor’s note: This post was written by Jeff Foster, co-founder and CEO at Tomoson, the influencer marketplace. The platform allows bloggers and social media influencers to get paid for posting sponsored content, and lets businesses connect with targeted, niche audiences.
Over the last couple of decades, the web has completely changed the way we do marketing. We’ve gone from traditional advertising campaigns to a world where influence drives marketing success. If you’re starting out on a digital marketing campaign, it’s vital that you hook up with bloggers who can connect with your audience. Those who get it right reap huge rewards, but it isn’t as easy as it seems – many marketers make a complete mess of blogger outreach. In some ways, marketing to bloggers is nothing new – it’s another twist on word-of-mouth advertising – but reaching out to bloggers requires a very different approach than contacting traditional media outlets.
Quality Over Quantity
To start with, just because a blogger talks about your area of interest, this doesn’t mean they’re a good target. There’s a vast number of bloggers out there – and like with any other job, there are good bloggers and bad bloggers. If you go after every blogger who could possibly influence your audience, you’ll be overwhelmed. It’s much better to select a few bloggers who have credibility and can reach your audience effectively.
On the other hand, don’t make the mistake of just picking celebrity bloggers – unless you happen to be Apple or Nike. Instead, look for very good bloggers who can give you the coverage you need, without having 100 other people vying for their time. One great way of doing this is by using a blogger introduction site such as Tomoson. This type of site lets you hook up with bloggers who want to promote your products or services, and allows you to evaluate their influence before you get in contact with them. These sites also make it much more practical to reach the big bloggers who would ignore your email.
Nurture Your Bloggers
Look at each blogger as a long-term investment. This is why you shouldn’t target too many bloggers. You need to build a relationship with each one and to convince them you are worth their time. Your goal should be to grow a small stable of bloggers who become your brand ambassadors, rather than trying to get the broadest possible coverage.
If you’re a real marketing pro, this shouldn’t be difficult. You know that what drives your business forward is relationships, rather than just what you have to sell. Work with bloggers to create a personal connection. Show them you’re interested in what they do, and explain how your product or service is a great fit for them. Don’t make the mistake of treating bloggers just like any other media outlet. They want to know that you – not your company, but you – are genuinely interested and can be trusted. If you do this, you’ll get much better traction and a much better response.
Don’t Leave Bloggers To Do All Of The Work
Really great bloggers are in demand – they have all sorts of people chasing them. You’re competing for their time and interest, so you need to make it easy for them to talk about your product or service. This doesn’t mean you need to give them everything on a plate – in fact, good bloggers want to put their own personal stamp on everything they write about. But if you give them great content that they can adapt for their audience, then they’ll be much more likely to talk about you on a regular basis.
For instance, if you’re planning to launch a new product or service, don’t send them boring information. Instead, give them gorgeous images and interesting stories – for example, talk about how your product has made a real difference to the people who use it. Don’t be afraid to use humor or to create stories that will get their audience wanting more. Even – or especially – if your product is relatively mundane.
Respect Goes A Long Way
If you’re like most marketers, you’re a control fanatic. You want to make sure your message gets across verbatim. If you do this with bloggers, however, you’re going to turn them off. They’ve built their blog on their own opinions – not the opinions of others who want to promote a different agenda. If you try to control what they say, you’re going to have a public relations disaster on your hands.
Instead, respect what bloggers say, and learn from it. They know how to connect to their audience. In fact, if you ask bloggers for feedback, you’ll get lots of great advice that can give your messaging more “oomph”. You’ll end up connecting better with your potential customers, and bloggers will buy into what you say – all of which will translate into better coverage and better reviews.
Finally, bloggers hate to feel they’re being exploited – there’s no bigger turn-off. When you reach out to bloggers, you have to be completely genuine. Sure, they know you have an agenda, but they want to know that you believe what you say. If you just go through the motions, they’ll pick up on this right away – at least the really good ones will. Bloggers truly have the interests of their readers at heart, which is why their readers trust them. Honesty is the best policy – don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes, otherwise you’re going to end up with backlash.
One good way to convince bloggers that you are genuine is to get them involved behind the scenes. We’ve already talked about valuing their opinions, but why not take this to the next level. Ask for their feedback – and include this in your product roadmap and marketing messages. You’ll build a much better relationship with bloggers, and you’ll end up with a product that really hits the mark with your target customers. There’s no better way to get blogger buy-in – when the blogger sees that they have real influence, they’ll become a true brand champion for you.