Last month we looked at the powerful marketing initiative of referral marketing and how it works on the basis of trust: if someone you trust and respect recommends a product or service, you are more likely to buy into it than something you’ve seen through traditional advertising channels.
Research proves that referrals are the most trusted form of marketing by a considerable margin. Friends and family are often considered the most obvious referrers, but there is a massive trend now for marketers to turn to influential bloggers and social media users to help them share their brand with a captive and relevant audience.
Influencers have loyal and engaged followings, usually in niche or local markets. For the marketer, blogger collaborations are proving to be an incredibly effective and great value way to reach out to a targeted audience and boost reputation. Bloggers can help drive traffic to your website; they can boost your social media following and are well known for selling out products in just one review. Traditional advertising is on the decline, and influencer marketing is fast taking its place.
So how to connect with the influential bloggers that are best placed to enhance YOUR marketing campaigns and audience outreach? Read on as we walk you through the key steps in connecting with the right influencers.
Step 1: Select your bloggers
With almost three million blog posts being published EVERY DAY, no one will blame you for feeling daunted at the prospect of sifting your way through the numerous options you have when selecting suitable bloggers to collaborate with.
The main thing you need to look for is a brand match; the audience of the blogger needs to match your own, so start your search by industry. There are some good tools you can use, including AllTop and Buzzsumo as well as Google and Twitter. Google will help you find influential blogs that are top ranking, and through hashtag and trending searches that are specific to your niche, Twitter will present you with the people behind the popular posts that are relevant.
Another route to finding the right bloggers is to look at your own social channels and posts and check who is making a positive noise about you. Who is commenting on your content, sharing it or mentioning you? These people could be ideal influencers to work with as they have already demonstrated an interest in your brand.
Also, don’t forget that bloggers are actually human beings, which means there is every likelihood you will bump into one or two at a networking event, or indeed anywhere. As with promoting your business to potential customers, always be ready to seize an opportunity whenever you meet someone new; you never know, they could be the perfect influencer to promote your brand.
When shortlisting your target bloggers, always look for:
- A large blog and social media following
- Regular post publishing
- An engaged and loyal audience
- High domain authority (Moz is great for this)
- A professional approach
- Content that blends with your brand
- An audience demographic that matches your own
- Good quality videos and photography
You should aim high with your target shortlist, because not every blogger you contact is going to agree to work with you. So try and collect at least 20 or 30 names.
Collate contact details
Contact details may not be all that easy to pin down as many of the most influential bloggers work through agencies, so you may wish to focus on those who still have good followings, but maybe aren’t right at the top end of the scale, at least to start with. If you can get a direct email address all the better, but a Twitter profile will also allow you to get in front of your targets.
Step 2: Connect with your bloggers
It’s now time to make contact with your target bloggers.
Before you make any contact with your target blogger list, do a bit of background work. Many professional bloggers include a page on their blog detailing the type of collaborations they accept and some provide guidelines as to their preferred approach from brands looking to work with them. Be sure to follow these guidelines, otherwise you could get off to a shaky start.
Offer something in return
Start your contact with a fairly informal introduction. Be upfront: if you are looking for reviews or you wish to submit your own sponsored content, say so, but be certain to offer something in return. Bloggers don’t do what they do for favours; they are in it for reward. Be clear on what you are offering: free products; event invitations; a share of your own audience exposure or some other tangible opportunity.
Make it personalised
Never fire off a general blanket email to your entire list: approach each of them as an individual. Talk personally about why you think you’d make a good match and what you admire about them.
Bloggers love anything that keeps their audience engaged and especially things that people want to share. So, think about offering a reader giveaway, a competition or a discount. Again, do your research. Look into what’s worked before for that blogger: what was popular with their readers? What got everyone talking and sharing on social media?
Step 3: Be clear on sponsored blogs and the law
You should, as with all advertising rules, make yourself familiar with the rules surrounding sponsored and paid content on blogs and social channels.
If you are paying for a review or a sponsored post, or offering high value goods or other rewards in exchange for a post, the blogger will mark it as such: that’s the law. It is a legal requirement for all content publishers to make it quite clear to readers as to the nature of the material they are reading, and where something is paid for then it must say so.
If you are exchanging lower value products or services for a review or a post then the blogger will include somewhere in the post that this has been the case, although it will be less prominent. Bloggers are intent on maintaining the trust of their readers which means they will always be upfront with them as to the nature of their content.
Also you should be aware that if a blogger has agreed to feature your product or service, you will not necessarily have any control over the content unlike with a traditional advertiser/publisher relationship.
You should be under no illusion that blogger outreach is a walk in the park or a low cost marketing initiative. Relationships you forge with influencers should be considered in a professional light, and with investment and nurturing they will pay dividends.
If you are seeking to boost your audience and enhance your brand reputation through working with bloggers but you’re not sure where to start, why not talk to Figment? We can help you reach out to the right influencers to help grow your audience.