The emergence of Social media has given a window to many business owners and writers to become a powerhouse within their industry online. These influencers often come in the form of prolific bloggers who publish new content to their blog very regularly (sometimes 1-2 times a day) and have a large number of readers that will hang on every word that they say.
The problem is that it is very difficult to become very influential in any industry online, and requires a lot of time and a lot of high quality creative content in order to ever have a chance. This just isn’t realistic for a lot of small business owners, who want to establish a strong presence online, so what can small business owners do?
Do not despair; for there is hope, as there are now influential people online for nearly every industry. The good news is that there are ways of piggy backing off the authority that these bloggers have within your industry. This is called Blogger outreach.
Blogger outreach is still fairly new, but as time goes on it is increasingly becoming a vital part of many a company’s Social Media strategy. Blogger outreach has been summed up perfectly on Susan Payton’s piece for Mashable:
“By targeting and building relationships with bloggers that address your audience, you can garner effective, unbiased reviews of your products. Their readers will be introduced to your brand, get interested in it, visit your site, and hopefully buy.”
So, you want to use the influence of top bloggers in your industry to promote your own products and services. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, it’s not easy and requires clever and outside of the box thinking, as to how you build relationships with these influencers, as they more than likely will have seen and heard it all before. Below outline some steps to take when undertaking your own Blogger outreach programme.
- The first thing you need to do is you need to find the right bloggers to target. I am afraid that this isn’t really just a case of doing a simple Google search for a top 10 list, although Google is a useful tool in the hunt for good bloggers.
Blog directories such as Alltop and Technorati are great places to start as they provide you with lists of bloggers by industry and topic. The latter also sorts the blogs by how influential they are, making this a very valuable tool. When using Technorati, it is very tempting to try and target the most authoritative sites, when the reality is that the majority of the top bloggers would not give you the time of day. Identifying sensible targets and setting yourself realistic expectations is key. Look into the niches relevant to your product or service and you will more than likely find some real gems that may not get read by the masses, but may have the type of audience that is a perfect fit for your products/services.
- Once you have built your list of target bloggers, it is important that you start to learn as much as possible about the writer. You can usually learn about the blogger in the about section of their site, plus read all of their posts for a couple of weeks to get a feel for the way they write. This can often give a clear indication of whether or not they are worth pursuing
- You need to consider Blogger outreach as a mutually beneficial relationship, as this is the only way to success. A lot of companies and agencies fail because they are only interested in what they can get from the blogger rather than working to make sure that there are benefits for both parties involved. Think about the response you want from the Blogger, and then think how you can realistically prompt that response. You can’t expect bloggers to say wonderful things about your products/services without getting anything in return. Bloggers will only publish something to their site, if it will add value for their readers, so make sure your target bloggers are well researched, so that you know the types of content they like to share with their readers.
- When making first email contact with your target bloggers, please do not use a form or mail merged letter that you have pulled from a database or spreadsheet somewhere. If you are planning on taking this approach, then give up now as you are wasting your time. This email needs to be personalized to each blogger you want to target. Bear in mind that a lot of these guys are probably receiving regular spammy emails from agencies or businesses wanting links or a product review. This is why your email needs to different; refer to recent posts from their blog and give your thoughts on what they have written as this demonstrates that you have read their blog. This is a more time consuming approach but it will always be a more beneficial one.
- 100% honesty and transparency is fundamental when undertaking a Blogger outreach programme. Be completely open about why you are contacting the Blogger and if they are not interested then you can simply move on to the next. If you lie to get the Blogger to publish what you want and they find out, they are in a position where they could do your reputation some serious damage. Remember that any messages that have been sent privately can easily be made public and available for all to see.
- Finally, always be nice to your target Bloggers, even if they do say no, because you don’t know what opportunities there may be in the future. In other wards don’t cut off your nose to spite your face and always remember to say thanks!
Ultimately, there is a lot of hard work in a solid Blogger outreach programme and anyone who wants to pursue this needs to commit themselves for the long haul as results overnight are about as likely as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man walking past your office window in the next 5 minutes. There is however, no doubt that the results for your business can be amazing.