Interested in collaborating with bloggers but unsure where to start? You’re not alone. An increasing number of business owners are recognizing the value of tapping into blogger audiences: According to one Sydney Morning Herald article, sending free products to about 40 bloggers helped entrepreneur Tram Tran increase revenue by 50 percent each month.
Over at Mashable is the story of a UK satchel company that “aggressively worked with fashion bloggers and prominent fashionistas, sponsoring giveaways and gifting satchels, which yielded organic buzz.” And of course there are the cold, hard statistics from Technorati Media’s Digital Influence Report, which say that bloggers have more influence on customer decisions than social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
The only problem? Just because you want to work with bloggers doesn’t mean you know how. Where do you find the right ones, for example? With so many blogs in the marketplace, how do you choose whom to contact? Then, once you find some, how do you engage with them? To help answer these questions, here are some ideas for how to find the right people to work with your brand.
The first step is the most important one: Research, research, research. Renowned blogger and CEO of publishing and media company Human Business Works Chris Brogan says the first two steps in reaching out to bloggers are doing your homework and establishing a relationship, and this may take a little time. In other words, don’t Google an industry keyword, go to the first blog that comes up, and instantly send the blogger a pitch. Rather, start a list of bloggers that interest you—via word-of-mouth, Alltop, Google Blogsearch, Twitter Search, Pinterest search, and so on—and begin tuning in to their activity. Follow them on Twitter, comment on their posts, respond to them, engage with them, and work to build some sort of relationship and rapport. Pay attention to the way they interact with their followers: Do they have loyal readers? What are their social media followings like? Not only will this make it easier to reach out to them when you’re ready, but also it will give you better insight into their voice and brand and whether or not it aligns with your own.
2. Know Your Audience
Part of knowing which bloggers are the right ones to contact is knowing which bloggers are connecting with your target audience. If you’re a Chicago catering company, working primarily at weddings, you should look for Chicago wedding blogs and/or top wedding blogs, the sort of sites where local brides will be looking for info. If you’re a specialty food company, making gluten-free granola bars, you want to look for gluten-free and healthy living blogs that your target audience will find relevant.
3. Consider Joining a Network
The Internet is filled with networks and clubs designed to connect brands and bloggers. On the plus side, the network does the work of finding bloggers; on the con side, you usually have to pay to use the service. Here are a few to check out:
- Yoked: Still in beta version, Yoked describes itself as like a “professional dating service” connecting bloggers and businesses.
- Brand Backer: Brand Backer specializes in fashion and beauty blogs. It says it has connections with over 5,000 bloggers, representing a total of more than 40 million readers.
- Stiletto Media: Specializing in general and Hispanic markets, Stiletto Media already represents companies as big as Avocados from Mexico, CoverGirl, and Dodge.
4. Reach Out the Right Way
After you’ve identified the blogs that best suit your specific niche, it’s time to reach out to them directly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you do this, taken from experts around the Web:
- Address the Blogger Personally / “Whenever I get emails from companies that clearly know nothing about my blog I just delete them and wait for a REAL opportunity to come in,” says professional blogger Heather from Heather’s Dish. Use the research you’ve been doing on a given blog to personalize your pitch. Address the blogger by name and mention something you like about his or her blog, to let the blogger know you are paying attention.
- Make It Easy: Make your pitch short and sweet. Blogger Christopher Wink says you shouldn’t “get caught up in every nuance of what you think your business is about [but rather] give the name and the 5-10 word summation and share a few links.”
- Offer Something: Except for extremely rare situations, you shouldn’t ask a blogger to promote you without offering something in return. As Kristen Matthews writes at Maximize Social Business, “Bloggers expect compensation for their brand mentions. It makes sense if you think about it. They’ve spent so much time curating and keeping the interest of their audience.” Maybe you are offering a free product or a sponsored giveaway; maybe you are letting the blogger in on some great deal or news. If you’ve already been researching the blog, you’ll know if your request aligns with its values.
- Ask Specifically: Rather than asking a blogger to promote you, be specific about how and what you would need. According to Top Rank Blog, you want to “be clear about what you want the bloggers to do. Do you want them to post pictures on Instagram? Will they be participating in a video? Would you like them to comment on Google+? Don’t forget to think of all the little things that can help promote your message.”
Does the idea of working with bloggers sound attractive to you? If so, there’s no better time to start paying attention to relevant blogs than right now. Grow a list of potential contacts, and begin engaging with them soon!