Setting up a blog is relatively easy, anyone can do it. So if that’s the case, why do blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants?
Many budding blogger wannabes start out with lofty aspirations of becoming the next best thing since sliced bread; leaving their boring day job, landing massive brand deals and becoming highly sought after as the voice to be heard.
The reality for most is far removed from this idealistic dream. Blogging for the majority is a hard graft. You have to build up a solid fan base, find the time to keep it going – for most bloggers this is a secondary activity alongside a full time job, looking after children etc.
It’s not for the faint hearted.
Building relationships with bloggers can be time consuming, but if done with integrity it can bring fantastic success to a brand in the way of genuine advocacy.
Quite simply, if you take the time to engage with bloggers in the correct manner, then bloggers in turn will engage with your brand as part of a mutually beneficial relationship and more often than not, go above and beyond what they’re asked to do.
Bloggers can be grouped into tiers, similar to traditional media. The tier ones - the ‘ubers’, ‘supers’ & ‘KOLs’ (Key Opinion Leaders) - have made it to the dizzying heights of influence stardom, where their blogging lifestyle has often become their main source of income.
With these high-profile bloggers, the key thing to remember is how much in demand they are. Brands usually ask them to be the ‘front’ of or the ‘face’ of a campaign, so there’s tough competition for their attention. Brands need to work with these bloggers in quite a different way.
The tier twos and threes – the emerging bloggers – are generally not full time writers and are often hobbyists or moonlighters, trying to develop and expand their passion.
They’re usually busy beyond belief, developing their brand and curating their image. They are often pounding the pavements attending events, shows and openings, while typing away, tweeting, checking in, vlogging, and also fitting in their day job.
The ‘payment’ at this stage of the game often comes in the form of canapés, cocktails and great content. So, to make a positive impression on an emerging blogger, it’s key to show empathy and try to offer them a fair value exchange – content and access. Money is nice, but it’s not always expected.
The keys to successful blogger engagement
The key to successful blogger engagement is preparation:
Do your research. Arm yourself with a good level of knowledge about the kind of bloggers who would be right to promote your message, then take the time to read relevant blogs, find out what motivates and inspires them, see if they’re ‘warm’ to brands and product promotion.
There are thousands of blogs out there – putting in the effort at this stage will save time and resource down the line.
Quantity isn’t everything when it comes to influence, but the most influential blogs typically have a corresponding level of activity on their social accounts.
There are a number of free online tools available which measure influence, from followers on Twitter to video views on YouTube – it’s a matter of finding the right one for the job. In addition to the hardline metrics, it is also important at this stage to go one step further and analyse potential influence, exposure, click-throughs and conversions.
- Blog personality is an important factor to consider, both for tone of voice and style of writing. It is so important to find the right fit for the brand that the blogger will be working with.
- Consider cultural differences for global blogger campaigns, including language barriers, tone of voice, different customs and beliefs and also time zone differences – everyone needs to sleep!
- Address the legal aspect of blogger activity early on. For example, disclosing endorsements in some markets (e.g. the US) is mandatory. So it is important to research this before engaging with bloggers, to make sure that everything is covered off.
Before contacting the bloggers it vital that you have an activity plan drawn up. Make sure you are able to answer any questions they might have:
- Will the client link back to or promote their blog post (driving traffic)?
- Can they run a contest to give away the product, driving further interaction from their readers?
- How many posts are they expected to write?
- Who is the best person in your company to kick this relationship off?
It is important that the relationship is natural. The people who will be talking regularly need to get on with one another.
Also, remember that bloggers should be allowed their freedom, and if at any point they feel the content is not right for their audience then they shouldn’t be expected to post it – especially as it could mean they lose their audience’s interest because of it.
Bloggers’ top 10 hates:
- Lack of trust – ‘Whether I’m working with brands or agencies, I want a relationship built on trust. I appreciate them reading my articles before they are published.’ Angelita M
- Lack of time – ‘Always not enough time for me to digest the brief and study the materials.’ Echo Gu
- Lack of knowledge/effort – ‘When they don’t know our past works and what we made. So would be great if they go on nssfactory.com before.’ Vincenzo, NSSMag
- Spam-like emails – ‘Please bear in mind, I’m much more likely to respond if you address the e-mail to “Jennifer” or “Jen”. I don’t like being on massive databases and if your e-mail looks like spam then chances are I’ll just click delete.’ Jennifer Inglis, The Style Crusader
- Getting basics wrong – ‘Anyone who sends me an email without saying at least “hello” first, or doesn’t get my name right, gets deleted straight away. Fed with up with PR crap’ Pelayo Diaz, Kate Loves Me
- Irrelevant content – ‘Almost begging me to post blogs about items that are totally irrelevant to my blog’ Karena, My New Best Friends; ‘I think the agency should seek to know my likes and see if I really identify with what they want to disclose.’ Julia Thetinski, Frescurinha
- Insufficient information – ‘Materials and information from the brands sometimes is insufficient.’ Echo Gu
- Assumption – ‘The assumption that throwing some free swag your way is an automatic expectation to put time and effort to promoting their client.’ Sabrina Bangladesh, The Science of Style
- Bartering – ‘The initial bargain on prices/payment is very annoying. I once wished I had an agent to deal with that.’ Echo Gu
- Not following up – ‘I’ve had an experience where I was offered free clothes, and I never received anything. I’m not too fussed about not getting freebies, but the PR was pressuring me to write about their event, when they couldn’t fulfil what they said they were going to do.’ Sabrina Bangladesh
Top ten tips
- Get their name right – no room for error here; spell their name correctly and start with a ‘hello’. The basics really do matter!
- Know who you are talking to – do your homework, read their work and don’t be so off the mark that a blogger makes a show of you (famous tool manufacturer Bosch approached equally famous pop music blogger Popjustice to see if they’d like to write about their new cordless screwdriver – it didn’t work for them and quickly went viral…)
- Suitable content – match the right type of content to the right curator.
- Speak their language – adapt your style to fit theirs.
- Make it simple – they are busy, so make the opportunity clear for them.
- Be flexible – bloggers have the luxury of being their own editors – let them put their stamp on it and don’t be too controlling.
- Add value – share insights, information and content.
- Provide access – give them something they couldn’t have got on their own, including audience reach.
- Listen – pay attention to what the bloggers are saying and be attentive at all times.
- Cultural sensitivities – be aware of cultural differences when dealing with foreign markets.