This picmonkey collage is a sample of a few of the clients I have worked with in the past year. I have been blogging here and writing on line for almost 5 years now. This little blog Thriftymommastips has grown exponentially and my experience has grown with it. This year I have managed many blogger outreach programs for my clients. I also offer business blogging for beginners training and I community manage many assets through my business Thrifty Mom Media. Key word there - business.
Maybe it's the flurry of pitches I have received lately. Maybe it's all the strange and unprofessional exchanges I have witnessed on both sides of the social media relationship, especially just since Blissdom Canada. Whatever the root of this public service marketing message, I've reached my tipping point, or perhaps my boiling point and I need to get this out. Bloggers aren't perfect but many are professional writers, marketers and influencers. They are unique individuals with a unique asset in a digital marketing world. At a conference last year one speaker smartly summed blogging up like this: "Right now you are the prettiest girl in high school and everyone wants a turn to dance. Blogging is a valuable marketing tool. Don't undervalue it."
I spoke to this here in my post about why bloggers get paid for their service. Some of my blogger outreach campaigns have been an incredible tool driving on line buzz fast. Done well, blogger outreach is an art. Done poorly, without thought, it is a waste of money. Which camp will your campaign fall in? Any agency should know their strengths and contract out if they cannot do blogger outreach properly.
Five Reasons Why Your Blogger Outreach Program Won't Work.
1. Google is not a strategy: You googled blogger, or health blogger, or Canadian blogger, and you are compiling a list of the people who popped up. You might as well pick up the phone and start dialing random numbers. Not effective and definitely not a blogger outreach strategy.
2. Relationships: You bought a list of bloggers in Canada, or the US, or Timbuktu. I never ever get my bloggers from lists. I get them from my conversations and relationships with each blogger and with my network of writers and bloggers. I know from having dinner with many at the four to five conferences I go to each year that blogger X can write effectively and with conviction about lice treatment. I know that blogger Y has taken on too many clients this year and let me down on one contract. I know that blogger W will deliver on time every time and personalize the message. I know she is caring for her mother in her home and represents the sandwich generation demographic that is perfect for the campaign coming up in 2014. I know that blogger P has a contract with a competing toilet paper client and even if she agrees to represent this outreach campaign it is not in the client's best interest. I know that blogger Q is abrasive in person but she has the audience we are courting and she is worth the effort. I know which one tweeted something publicly that was unfair and perhaps even unprofessional. I know which one built her own infographic for a campaign and I have her on speed dial.
3. Knowledge, Research, Reading: You don't read blogs. Bloggers are really unique. Each one has an author, who is a person. Each has a style and each has an area of expertise. The best blogger outreach programs are run by people who actually read blogs and are familiar with them inside and out. They know the name of the author and where his or her strengths lie. Each blogger has rates. Each blogger also has been sent 100 books this week. How is yours different? Each blogger has also received 25 gift baskets of branded T-shirts, water bottles and serving trays. How will your brand elevate its pitch and stand out? Which book will be the one that gets reviewed? Good blogger outreach coordinators like reading, and even - here's a shocking concept - like and value what bloggers bring to the table.
4. How do you Define Influencer?: Your boss gave you a job to find on line influencers in the area of fitness and post pregnancy weight loss. You post a google doc form and say apply to be an influencer with well known fitness brand. The measure of influence is an intriguing concept that is not two dimensional. An influencer is not always the person with 25000 twitter followers. You need to dig deeper. I tell my clients to come to a conference or two with me, or send me in on your behalf. Influence begins on the blog and on line and a true influencer with lasting potential is also someone who has a whole other life extending into speaking, connecting, networking, volunteering. You need to find the person with the X factor that everyone loves and wants to be. Influence is a big concept. Think big picture.
5. You are using the wrong metrics. You think you identified your on line influencers in the field of dairy products. Maybe you even went to a conference and connected genuinely with some bloggers you want to hire, so you compile a spreadsheet. Blog name, Twitter followers, Facebook followers, maybe you added Klout or Kred, and blog origin geographically. Perfect start, right? Wrong. Tip of the iceberg. Metrics are always changing and you need to be informed and stay on top of trends. You have to find where there is engagement and community. An "influencer" with 50,000 twitter followers is not much use to me if I read her blog and discover nobody is actually there. There is no engagement, very few comments and no personality.
Blogger outreach is a relationship. I have been on both sides of this equation and it is a back and forth working relationship. My best blogging experience was working for a client who contracted me to write about something for Walgreens. Can you guess who was running that outreach? A blogger, a PR person who doesn't actually believe fully in blogging yet, or a social media intern?