In a recent post I mentioned the insane influence that Instagrammers can have within their microcosms of the internet.
Most of these started out with a blog, which grew into something so compulsive for readers that the blogger now enjoys a cult following of many thousands of followers across social networks.
These guys are the holy grail of product placement. Get an Instagram babe with five million followers to drink your artisan water and you could be the next big thing. Literally – I have seen hundreds of girls posing with Voss water. I bought some, caving under the pressure of influencer-itis: if I just buy what they have, I will somehow become them. It’s a powerful phenomenon.
Marketers know that and bloggers know that. It is becoming increasingly difficult to approach successful bloggers with any hope of a response because they get hundreds of offers a day. If you think blogger outreach could be a valuable part of your marketing plan, you’re going to have to up your game.
Step 1: Like, read their blog?
If that sounds obvious, it’s because it is. And yet a lot of PRs and brands fail to do that before approaching someone to feature a product on their blog. How do they know the product is suited to the blogger’s audience and voice? They don’t.
Marketing should be targeted. It isn’t a t-shirt gun pop-pop-popping stuff out into the world at random, hoping to hit somewhere good.
If it’s a time thing, aim to contact fewer influencers. Just make sure they’re the RIGHT influencers for what you’re pitching.
Step 2: Make a list of featured brands
Who have they worked with before? If they’re featuring Apple Watches and luxury cars on the reg, maybe they’re not going to be interested in your range of ground-breaking hammers. If they regularly post about products they’re using for their apartment make-over, give it a shot!
Step 3: Work out the process
Analyse their sponsored posts to find clues to how they work. Do they go for the ‘free stuff’ pitches, or do they only write about full-on experiences they’ve been given by brands?
Step 4: Look for quality and professionalism
Millions of followers can’t make up for a lack of professionalism. With that kind of reach, a mistake on the blogger’s part could be extremely damaging to you. Choose bloggers whose values, style and standards match your own – only with all those boxes ticked will they be a good fit for your company.
You want to see a bit of effort too. Do they feature brand-written content (guest blogs) – and if so, is it well-assimilated into the flow of their own posts? To me, that means introducing the guest post and explaining why it’s featured, rather than just posting it up with no context.
Step 5: Research them a bit more
You don’t just want a post – you want that post shared to the blogger’s whole network. How do they work on social? Do they talk about brands there, do they share their blog posts on certain platforms?
Just looking through a blogger’s social posts is a good way to get a feel for the real personality as opposed to the brand personality they’ve built. Everyday interests come to the fore and offer you loads more opportunities to connect with what they actually care about.
Be wary of pitching on social media – it’s done way too much and is an amateur move. I personally think that asking someone to enter into a business agreement on social media is like asking someone to go out with you on social media. A bit weird and to be firmly ignored.
Have some respect: write an email.
Step 6: Write an email!
There’s standing out from the crowd and there’s being desperate and scary. There’s being polite and there’s being ignorable. I probably can’t tell you how exactly to find the happy place in between but here are some tips. With ironic hearts. (OK, semi-ironic.)
♥ Use their real name
Funnily enough, bloggers use their real names every day in their real life, so you’re more likely to cut through if you use it too. But beware: if they have LEGALLY CHANGED THEIR NAME to Cupcake Sugarbum, that’s the one to use as they probably did that for a reason.
♥ Don’t try too hard
If you want to work with them, it’s because you think your brand and theirs are a good match. So don’t feel like you have to be all down with the kids for them to like you. Use simple, friendly language and explain why you think they’d like your product.
♥ Have something to offer
I don’t just mean free stuff – the people who will do anything for any kind of free stuff are the people to avoid. I mean well written, unique content. Bloggers are busy, especially if their blog isn’t their full time job. Give them something that’s going to make their lives easier. They might want to rewrite it in their own style but you’ll have given them an idea and a framework – and that saves a lot of time.
♥ Explain your idea
Make it clear what you’re after: a step-by-step of how you see the idea working says “This won’t be boring and arduous, promise!”. Make sure you reassure them that you will be putting effort into the campaign too, like sharing it across your own social media. It’s vital publicity for you AND them.
♥ Do NOT use these words:
“We can’t pay you but you’ll get excellent exposure”
Bloggers can’t pay their rent with exposure. Honestly, the days of expecting writers and designers to work for free (as if you’re doing them a favour?!) are OVER and suggesting it will be seen as very rude and unprofessional. You must pay in money or in goods, although the goods will have to be pretty darn good for you to get a valuable piece of content out of it.
Step 7: Follow up
Nothing wrong with waiting a week and then emailing again, or sending a message on Twitter or Facebook. I know bloggers who have got so behind with emails that they’ve just deleted every single thing in their inbox. A gentle and polite reminder that you got in touch can’t hurt.
And while you’re doing all that…
Researching bloggers is a serious rabbit warren and can take you on a magical trip through some weird and wonderful things. To help yourself feel better about the time-suck, keep a log of bloggers who might be useful for later opportunities:
- Full name and online alias if used
- Blog name and address
- Blog subject
- Contact details
- Reach (for example, they may be based in the US but have a big UK following)
- Page rank (their website’s authority)
- Approximate following for blog and social platforms