Finding Bloggers for Your Company
If you need a blogger to write a blog at your company’s website, it’s very easy. You call 479.966.9761, and ask. We’ll take good care of you.
That’s not what this post is about.
At Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged this weekend, I had the opportunity to hear a lot about approaching bloggers for links, social media, and brand ambassadorship — from the point of view of the bloggers who write about brands and of the companies that use this method of marketing.
We do this as part of linkbuilding at Haden Interactive, and Julianne looked at me funny when I said I had learned some things about it. “We always talk about how it’s relationship building,” she reminded me.
This is true. When we train our linkbuilders, we make it clear that getting people to give you a link is a transaction between humans. We show them examples of link requests we receive and ignore because they’re obviously form letters and teach them to pay enough attention to figure out what would make it worthwhile for a blogger or website owner to give us a link.
In the photo above, you can see the bloggers from this weekend in the boots they were given by Country Outfitters. Giving people stuff often causes them to be willing to link to your company. Country Outfitters gave me a lovely pair of boots (and another to give away, so subscribe or keep coming back if you want a pair of your own), and sure enough, I gave them a link.
What if that’s not practical for you? Say you build houses or perform surgery — free samples for bloggers aren’t a realistic tactic for your linkbuilding strategy. Say you’re a small company and you don’t have the budget to do much in the way of giveaways. How can you persuade bloggers to write about your product?
Whether you’re giving things away or not, how do you find bloggers who’ll be useful for you in the first place?
- Use Google Alerts to keep track of people actually writing about your company. When we see people doing that, we quietly give them a little something to express our gratitude, and you can do the same. For us, that’s not to persuade them to do anything, just to thank them. However, you can extend the relationship by thanking someone for the excellent review at their blog and offering a sample of a new product — they’re quite likely to write you another review, since they liked the first product.
- Find people who already write about your product — whether it’s your brand or not. Use blog search at Google — the pictures below show you how to find it by using the “more” button: just click on “more” and then on “blogs” when you search for your keywords. You’ll see the most influential bloggers in your particular niche.
- You’ll get a list like the one below. Visit the blogs and check their quality. If they’re written well, have few errors, aren’t covered in ads, are likely to appeal to your audience, and have been around for a while, they may be good choices for you. If you’re a client of ours, we’ll be happy to give you our opinion of the bloggers you’re considering; otherwise, you can use online tools like Marketing Grader to get an idea of the stability and reach of a blog. Remember that traffic estimators, including Alexa, are always guesses. If you want to know about a blogger’s traffic, you have to ask them. We learned this weekend that many devoted bloggers don’t use analytics, or use the analytics package that gives them the highest number, so you may not get an accurate number by asking, either. We rarely ask — but we’re also not giving people things on behalf of our clients. The more you’re offering, the more information you can demand.
- Once you’ve identified the bloggers you’d like to ask to review your product or list you in their online list (etc.), figure out what would motivate them to agree. We always say that the strongest inducement for a blogger to give you a link is, “Your readers will find this valuable.” We read the blog and get to know what the blogger thinks is valuable for his or her readers; if we need to write something for them to link to, we do. Bloggers who rely on ads for their income know that their value to their sponsors depends on keeping their readers happy, so we think this is still accurate. This weekend, I also learned that many of the bloggers who write about consumer goods are looking for validation. “If I earn a little money or gifts,” one said, “it justifies my taking time away from my home and family.” These can be some of your most enthusiastic and prolific online fans, and you can reward and encourage them with things like badges for their blogs, sneak peeks, inside information, and samples.
- With your targets identified and your pitch planned, it’s time to contact the blogger. Find out the name of the person you’re writing to, write an actual human letter, and ask for what you want. “I notice that you often write about issues in accounting,” you can say, “and we’d love to hear your opinion of our new accounting software. Can we send you a package to review? I think your readers would appreciate getting a sneak peek at our new product.” Or, “I see that you recently stayed at our hotel and enjoyed your stay. We’re so happy you did. Would you consider adding a link to our hotel website to your post? It would help your readers find us, and we’d really appreciate it.”
- Use the response from the blogger and the information in your analytics to determine whether you want to extend the relationship with the blogger beyond a post or a link. Natalie Ghidotti had some interesting things to say (she didn’t give me any thing, by the way — I’m just giving her a link because I think it may be useful to you) about official brand ambassadors. I’ve been one of those, but that’s a bit outside of our purview here at Haden Interactive. I’m sure Natalie would be happy to share her experience on the care and feeding of brand ambassadors.
America’s bloggers — many of whom are also very lively in social media — are in many ways an untapped resource for business. Keep the line between ads and links clear, and your company can benefit.