Last week Sally Whittle wrote about the ‘top 5 amazing PR offers’ sitting in her inbox at the time, taking a comical dig at some bad examples of blogger engagement in the process.
Her advice is valid, and I suggest taking a read, but it’s a shame that it’s usually the poor examples of blogger relations that often inspire such pieces.
It’s really not rocket science. Do your research, read the blog, offer the blogger something that’s interesting or more importantly, relevant - and try not to buy them off in the process. The ‘treating bloggers like people’ stuff also applies, but that’s largely just common decency that should be applied to any communications - so doesn’t classify as a rule of blogger engagement for me.
As such, I’ve put together a selection of examples of great collaborations below.
Stats should, as always, be taken with a pinch of salt – since the real benefit of this kind of activity is usually longer term. But in some cases, there are some figures to back up particular campaigns.
1. Say it with Skype
To promote its group video calling service, Skype attempted to socialise the experience without making the user subscribe.
Based initially on the fact that Facebook birthday and holiday messages are largely impersonal, it worked with 1000heads to create the Say it with Skype Facebook app - targeted at people in the UK and North America.
This integrated pre-recorded video elements of live musicians (including Bowling for Soup, Imogen Heap and CSS), a personalised message and the user’s own video performance, seemingly brought together live by the Skype group video call interface to create a unique clip.
At the end of the song, each band member held up a large card with a personal message sketched by the user digitally superimposed. Once recorded, the user was then able to share the link or send the performance directly into a friend’s Facebook timeline, where it could be viewed as an embedded video by the recipient, and by all their friends.
Following this, a ‘Happier Holidays’ section was added for Christmas with the help of acts like Alice Cooper, Boyz II Men and Autumn in Disguise. Over 20,000 user-generated videos were created during the 10 days it ran over the holiday period.
In terms of blogger engagement, Skype saw this as a huge part of the campaign that involved identifying the right influencers so that personalised birthday messages could be created for them, to spark their interest in the campaign and app. While anyone using the app would be able to add a friend's name to be displayed on the screen, these targeted influencers had their name sung by one of the bands.
Though many of the results could be attributed to the celebrity input (1.8m visits to Skype’s site, over 65,000 user generated videos shared – 650% higher than the campaign KPI of 10,000), the combination of using bloggers to kick off the ripple effect is now fairly standard. This is a good example of that, and Skype’s senior marketing manager Leanne Johnson said that this was its most successful social marketing program to date.
Not only have we blitzed our engagement targets, we’ve also seen a measurable uplift in subscriptions and sales. We couldn’t have asked for more.”
2. Launching Orange's ON Voicefeed in Spain
After launching ON Voicefeed successfully in the US, the UK and France, Orange decided to roll out the service in Spain in January 2012.
Working with We Are Social (WAS), the brand wanted this to be a “digital only” launch - based on PR with no advertising.
Mid-December, Spain’s top tech influencers met with the Orange team to discover the app and became beta testers for a month. Following positive feedback, this was extended, with each tester allowed to invite three friends each to join the programme.
WAS delivered personalised content to all, including: ON Voicefeed screenshots and video, explanations of the key features, links to the AppStore and the lifeisbetteron.com website, the Facebook page and the @lifeisbetteron Twitter account.
Influencers were then allowed to give away 10-20 ON Voicefeed Premium accounts to further friends or readers, while WAS followed up with regular waves of outreach before extending the campaign to social media. Here, the agency recruited Spanish fans via Facebook using a competition before targeting a wider range of bloggers.
The campaign generated 66 blog posts with an estimated audience of 14.5m in total. 18 blog posts were directly generated by WAS with an audience of 2.56m readers, with 633 tweets 139 comments received.
The 66 articles were tweeted 833 times - potentially reaching 1.21m Twitter users –and received 143 comments.
This is a classic example of using a core group of topic-relevant bloggers to create conversation online, but then extends this by allowing them to chose who gets invited next (which often means that those involved in a programme choose the most relevant second stage participants).
There is a lot of rich content involved, the campaign segways into social media engagement and then grows to include a wider circle of bloggers when positive feedback has been collated.
3. BHF & fashion bloggers
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) runs a yearly donation drive in September for its chain of over 700 shops, asking people to fill up a bag with good quality unwanted items to take to their nearest shop.
For 2011’s campaign, it worked with fashion bloggers to help spread the word and to encourage their fashion-conscious readers to donate.
Instead of just sending out a press release, it drew inspiration from a recent Dolce & Gabbana campaign and invited eight fashion bloggers to style a window display at their local BHF shop using second-hand clothing.
The organisation targeted bloggers it knew had a penchant for charity shops or had supported the BHF in the past.
Since many bloggers fit their writing around day jobs or other commitments, the BHF team made themselves available to work with each blogger when it suited them, at their nearest shop.
Kate Brennan, communities and social media officer for BHF said that the organisation did its best to to make this a win-win scenario.
While the bloggers gave us their time and spread awareness about our campaign to their readers, we helped to promote their blogs to their local community via the shop window as well as to our (at the time) 100,000+ Facebook fans and 12,000+ Twitter followers and on our website.”
4. Innocent’s alphabet fridge magnets
Following an event held in May 2010 that aimed to build relationships with parent bloggers, innocent drinks leveraged this group last year to help it promote a promotional fridge magnet giveaway.
The brand worked with Shiny Red to create ’26 alphabet kings and queens’, signing up 26 parent bloggers, assigning each a letter of the alphabet and challenging them to create a picture to coincide.
Each day, the @innocentdrinks Twitter feed posted a link to the individual blog posts, and kicked off consumer activity on the innocent kids website where members of the public could upload their own photos related to that day’s letter, with daily prizes for the best.
The activity was extremely successful, with 26 blog posts going live across 26 consecutive days reaching a potential 133,000 people, and hundreds of tweets using the #innocent hashtag reaching a further potential 355,000 (110 tweets specifically generated with a combined reach of 178,633 followers).
Though the promotional giveaway could have been successful on its own, since after all, people like free stuff – innocent leveraged existing relationships with bloggers to strengthen the idea that the brand was committed to healthy eating and education.
MumPanel, a targeted marketing networking made up from thousands of Mums, recently utilised its community to work with charity CLIC Sargent in raising awareness of Yummy Mummy Week – which aims to support the parents of children suffering from cancer.
Reaching out to one key blogger (Nickie O’Hara, whose daughter is a childhood cancer survivor), MumPanel worked with her to create the campaign based on her guidance.
The organisation had a plan in mind for what it thought would work with bloggers, but used her input on what specifically would and wouldn’t like to shape the tactics.
MumPanel then created a support network by engaging with three other highly-active ‘head mums’, who acted as spokespeople for the campaign, discussing events, interviews, images, helpful resources and more.
MumPanel asked bloggers to spread the word using #dosomethingyummy on Twitter, generating 1089 tweets with a potential reach of 1,541,974 impressions from 222 contributors. To date 80 bloggers have written 152 blog posts based on writing prompts provided over 4 weeks.
Additionally, for Mamas and Papas, MumPanel enlisted several mums and bloggers to test Mylo and Urbo prams. Mums spread the word about being chosen to test the prams, then tested and discussed the results via social media. The mums also reviewed the product description and gave feedback on that for future catalogue listings.
The campaign wasn’t just about spreading the word – changes were also made to the products based on what had been said. Plus, the brand held a 'bloggers day' at its office, where parents got to see the full range and exclusive products.
Each attendee wrote extensively about their trip and used social media to spread the word about Mamas and Papas.
This saw a direct reach of over 20,000 via the blogs, reviews ranked on page one of a search for the brand within Google, plus Mamas and Papas saw increased reviews onsite.
Nicola Cooper-Abbs, who worked on the campaigns with MumPanel said that for her, working successfully with bloggers is about building up relationships and making individual approaches based on what you think will be a good fit.
Both campaigns show what you can do when you tap into a focused group of bloggers that congregate around similar issues – and to each other about them regularly.
6. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee
Yes, you read that right. As People Browsr UK CEO Andrew Grill highlighted back in December, Her Majesty the Queen impressed many a social media ‘guru’ by inviting key journalists, bloggers and influencer to a reception in November at Buckingham Palace to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
“The big guns were rolled out for this event – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales and Camilla were there as well. They even had a hashtag ready – #diamondjubilee. Assuring a Twitter “photo op”, they set aside the East Gallery of Buckingham Palace as a “Tweet Suite” – a smart touch guaranteeing coverage by those invited bloggers and twitter journalist/celebs.”
Phillip Schofield shared a picture with his Twitter followers from the 'Tweet Suite', as did many others, and multiple blog posts were written following the event.
Though you could simply call this influencer relations as its not specifically targeted at bloggers, for me that’s just a naming convention.
Grill goes on to say that the smart courtiers decided that in the age of social media, if you can’t beat them, join them. Hence ensuring that enough bloggers of note would find an invitation to meet HM the Queen irresistible, while also feeling the need to show off that they had met the Queen.
7. O2's open relationship
Back in November 2010, the social media team at O2 came across a blog post from a customer who wasn’t impressed - but clearly had a sense of humour.
She wrote O2 a ‘Dear John’ letter, so the team decided to ‘woo’ her back by responding to her within the comments section.
Posting as ‘O2’ and matching the exact same tone as laid out in her piece, the public discussion includes O2 saying,“I think I might know of a way to save our relationship. So let's talk before you do anything hasty, hm? DM me” and the blogger, under her blog's name Big Fashionista replying with, “It is only when our relationship is in jeopardy that you finally open up to me. Is this how our relationship is always going to be?”
It would appear that the ‘couple’ resolved its issues, while Vodafone missed the boat by trying to join in the conversation at the last minute.
Using a little bit of guts, and some good monitoring, O2 turned a negative post into a positive – generated a heap of responses to the comments and showing its human side (of sorts). Very impressive.
8. Best British Bloggers
Stickyeyes created Best British Bloggers back in 2010, a unique service that matches bloggers with brands to create natural links for clients on the back of brand building campaigns.
An alternative spin on blogger relations, this uses a unique scorecard that assesses bloggers on their authority and influence including page rank, back links, location and social profile. Bloggers are then tiered according to their score, while considering which brands they would be most suited to.
For retailer Pure Collection, the most influential fashion and lifestyle writers were targeted – many of whom have since become Pure brand ambassadors.
Each blogger secured for a product review was encouraged to tweet about their experience with @PureCollection, helping build their social following across Twitter and Facebook. Competitions proved to be a great way to create SEO 'buzz' according to Stickyeyes and resulted in a blog post as well as promotion on Twitter. Activity was also expanded into targeting vloggers, with several YouTube videos produced by influential bloggers.
Bloggers have included professional personal stylists, fans of fashion, parenting and lifestyle bloggers. The top three blogs featuring the products collectively had over 40,000 unique visitors per month, an audience reach of 15,000 across social channel and received on average, 40,000 views per video.
The network itself provides access to over 2000 bloggers, and has been used by ghd, Phones4u, LOVEFiLM, Sport Relief.
9. Vodafone and WIWT for London Fashion Week
Vodafone came on board as a sponsor of London Fashion Week AW11 (LFW) in late 2010 as part of its broader loyalty rewards scheme, Vodafone VIP, which gave customers access to Formula 1 racing, festivals and fashion events.
To showcase the access customers could get to these experiences, Paratus wanted to partner with a passionate fashion blogger who hadn't quite hit the 'big time' yet, showing that with some help from Vodafone VIP - they could get as close to the action as anyone else.
Poppy Dinsey was identified as the right person on the back of her early work with WIWT.com.
This partnership was ‘win-win’ for all involved. Poppy got access to talent, prizes and kit exchange for live blogs, reports, tweets and runway photography. Vodafone added value to her community by giving her great content, prizes and more.
As well as driving closer association between the brand and access to exclusive events, this contributed to Vodafone generating the third most social media mentions of all brands linked to LFW (only Topshop and Mulberry generated more).
Traffic to Vodafone.co.uk/VIP increased by up to 500% (in relation to monthly figures outside of the campaign) on the back of the embedded links posted by Poppy during the 10 days.
Poppy published 33 branded blog posts over the course of LFW AW11, which, at the time, had exceeded more than 500,000 views
Her blog was syndicated on MSN Style during fashion week (featuring Vodafone mentions and embedded links), generating more than 10m potential eyeballs.
The Vodafone-sponsored competition run by Poppy also saw the campaign hashtag #VVIP trend on Twitter during the last day of LFW.