The number of blogs now numbers in the billions following the launch of the world’s first blog 20 years ago, which is said to be ‘Justin’s links from the Underground’.
Successful bloggers now receive hundreds of pitches from brands a week. And 90% of them get deleted before they’re even read
Tumblr.com reports to have 169.9m blogs and WordPress.com over 75m, and we can safely assume that Typepad, Blogspot, Blogster, Livejournal and Weebly are all in the high millions. Blogging has become a global pastime.
Why do people love to read blogs? It’s simple and well-documented - people trust non-partisan, independent points of view. Get to know and trust a blog and it will help you to navigate through the plethora of decisions you have to make every day.
Bloggers have influence. And in the world where influence is king, if your marketing programme doesn’t include an outreach strategy to leverage bloggers relevant to your product or service, your share of voice and reach will suffer. What’s more, search is increasingly powered by the volume of content that sits outside your owned domains. Where might this content come from? Blogs, of course. Blogs are critical to driving both reach and search listings.
Of course, many savvy marketers realise this and regularly pitch, or employ agencies to pitch, their product or service to key bloggers in relevant verticals. So welcome to the emergence of a new problem – ‘blogger blasé’. Successful bloggers now receive hundreds of pitches from brands a week. And 90% of them get deleted before they’re even read.
So, how should brands go about developing a successful blogger engagement strategy? After talking to and working with many of the top bloggers out there we have devised the following golden rules.
1. Get to know me and what I am about
You’re a food blogger. You get an offer from a famous organic meat brand offering you a chance to go on a meat specialist cooking course with Jamie Oliver. Amaze right? Wrong. The blogger you have contacted is vegetarian and never, ever writes about meat. It’s what she’s famous for – vegetarian recipes. By making the blogger this offer you have committed a cardinal sin – you’ve revealed you have not read their blog before approaching them.
Every blogger we talk to stresses time and time again that if you haven’t taken the time out to know their blog, why should they take time out to know your brand. Fair’s fair.
2. The blogger is the hero, not your brand
A blog is typically a deeply personal endeavour with bloggers putting heart and soul into their daily, weekly and monthly articles. If a brand approaches them offering to write a piece or provide content for the blog it is very likely to get short shrift. "It’s my blog. I write it. It’s my voice," is a familiar refrain.
Rather than offering content from your brand think about how you can co-develop content with the blogger – enabling them to use their voice in new and interesting ways. For example, if your target blogger focuses on fashion, a collaboration between a designer and their blog enables the blogger to both keep their voice and explore new creative outlets.
3. Exposure is not enough, if you’re a brand I expect to be paid
For many bloggers, their blog is their job. Just like the people working for a brand expect to be paid, if you want the blogger to work with you – they expect compensation. Offers of increased exposure in lieu of payment will just offend and start your conversation off on the wrong foot. There are exceptions of course! As one blogger put it – "If it’s Chanel and I get to be mentioned in the same sentence as Karl Lagerfeld – well then that exposure is worth it."
4. Build a relationship
In the blogging world relationships are crucial, as bloggers will always favour someone who they have repeatedly worked with and have had a great experience with over a new try-hard. As a brand, when selecting an agency to do outreach you will be far more successful if that agency already has mature, well-established relationships with the blogger vertical you want to target.
If you’re new to the blogging world think strategically as opposed to tactically. High profile bloggers have been blogging for a while and will continue to do so. Don’t blow it with badly thought-out approaches – see it as the beginning of a partnership and approach accordingly. Do it right and though you may be a new starter you could quickly leap ahead.
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