Countless articles have been written with insight and tips that teach marketers to connect with bloggers on behalf of their clients. I still keep a couple of these ‘How To’ lists in my Firefox bookmarks. Because of these insights I know that I need to be intimately familiar with the blogger’s brand and content. I know that I should connect only when I have something of value to offer. I know that a relationship goes further than a cold-call. But what if it’s the bloggers who are hoping to attract the attention of the big brands?
For the 10 tips below lets first assume that the marketer in question has something valuable to offer you, based on your own definition of value. It’s an all-expense paid trip to the Superbowl. It’s a years worth of sponsored stories. It’s an exclusive interview with a celebrity. It’s a product giveaway that your readers will love. Whatever it is, it’s more than a ‘pitch’. Let’s also assume that I’m reaching out on behalf of a large national brand in a social media capacity.
Are you there, Blogger? It’s me, social media marketer.
This should go without saying, but if I can’t find a way to contact you directly within 60 seconds of visiting your site, I probably won’t resort to the more indirect methods (a tweet, for example). This being said, as a method of contact I strongly recommend listing an email address over a ‘contact me’ box. Many marketers and PR reps operate under the assumption that items submitted to a contact box disappear into a bottomless pit, and all too often they’re right. I am also much more confident in reaching out to a personal email address over an info, news, or pr-specific e-mail address—especially when I can personalize my note with at least your first name. Unless you’re Perez Hilton, please do not refer me to an ‘agent’ or other representative. For many brand activations I simply do not have the bandwidth to negotiate through a 3rd party. If you are one of many contributors to a group blog, ensure that there is a way to contact you directly and not just through Twitter. Be sure to make public your city and state as well, since many activations are location-specific.
Hits don’t lie.
A one-sheet or informational page on your blog’s content and demographics is an excellent resource, but do not be tempted to exaggerate your site’s viewership. While I realize that resources like Compete.com are far from a be-all-end-all in measuring your reach, if you tell me that your blog had 100k visitors last month and Compete has never heard of you, this is a red flag that reflects poorly on you. Count on me checking out your social channel followings as well, noting that Facebook is a stronger indicator of your true reach than Twitter following, which can be boosted artificially.
Include a Tagline
A crafty and memorable 1-liner at the top of your page that allows me to assess who you are, what you cover and who you’re trying to reach is extremely valuable, especially when I’m under a time-crunch. While I normally make every effort imaginable to conduct a thorough assessment before making contact, the more information I can quickly garner from your page, the more likely I am to reach out with incentives that you will want.
Facebook: Speaking the Language
As a social media marketer working on behalf of large brands, I have to tell you that I am much more often concerned with the number of engagements that you generate with your branded content than with impressions. Simply put, I want to see a large number of likes, comments, and shares on your most recent wall posts because this is what a brand expects a social agency to drive. Remember that Facebook is a completely different environment than your blog and treating your Facebook followers the same as your blog readers is a mistake. The most egregious error? Auto-posting every single blog post to your Facebook wall. Limit your wall posts to once per day and mix up your blog links with other content that your readers will enjoy and will not have to leave the Facebook environment to engage in, particularly polls, videos and questions. Each of your channels is a different country; learn to speak the language.
It’s tempting to focus heavily on building a Twitter following as a means of promoting your blog, networking with others and boosting your perceived influence, but don’t get carried away! Again, as a social media marketer, I am more interested in creating engagements than impressions, and a large Twitter following is no indication to me that anybody cares about what you have to say. Once at a former agency I worked on a social campaign with a ‘celebrity’ influencer who had over 1 million Twitter followers. How many clickthrus do you think he generated for me in an average tweet? Under 100. This of course doesn’t mean that a large Twitter following isn’t a valuable asset (it is!), rather that it doesn’t tell me the whole story.
Fun fact: I used a Klout score to determine which of two influencers received a brand sponsorship and corresponding 5-figure check.
Think Outside The Banner.
I am neither banner-opposed nor banner-phobic. It’s just that working in social media I have many fantastic opportunities and assets to offer to bloggers outside of the banner-verse, including money, and when a blogger responds to a friendly inquiry with a militant demand to buy ad space, there’s not much I can do. Hear me out! We social marketers are crafty folks and I may have something valuable to offer you and your readers that you hadn’t even considered.
Build It And They Will Come.
Content is king. Are you more concerned with producing valuable content that people will love or with promoting your work and making a quick buck? Build your brand by creating compelling content, watch your following grow and the big brands will line up at your doorstep—I promise!
Giveaways – the Low Hanging Fruit of Social Media.
Giveaways are great. I love giveaways. Giveaways are one of the most cost-effective ways to engage with audiences and communities. However, if my product is one of 5 items that you’re currently giving away on your blog, how is my brand supposed to stand out? The same goes with reviews. If you reviewed an indie rock album, a vacuum cleaner, and a local Indian restaurant in the same week, my gut tells me that you like to get free stuff more than you like to create valuable and engaging content.
A Case For Minimalism.
When I pull up your homepage, the first thought to jump into my head is ‘Where exactly will my product/story/content live?’ Is it most likely to be featured prominently in a slideshow at the top of the page? Will it be one of 30 blog posts that day that starts at the top and quickly slips down into obscurity? If somebody is contacting you on behalf of a brand in a social media capacity, they are most likely seeking editorial placement (with proper disclosures, of course!). Keep your layout clean and attractive. Don’t overload it with product banners of assorted sizes and shapes, endless blogrolls, or other promotional tools. Put your content on a pedestal, front and center, and that’s where I’ll see my story.
Just Say No
I LOVE hearing ‘no.’ Better yet, I love hearing
“Thanks for reaching out Dan! This isn’t my cup of tea—my readers are more interested in XYZ, but feel free to reach out in the future if you have something that fits.”
Do you know why I like to hear ‘no’? Because it means that I wasn’t ignored. I didn’t have to spend time following up on emails with you. I didn’t have to write ‘Did Not Respond’ next to your name in big red letters on my outreach log, bumping you to the bottom of the list for future activations. Or, perhaps I learned something unique about you that will put you at the top of my list next time for an even better opportunity. Remember that I want to provide value to you and your site. Take 30 seconds to educate me on what ‘value’ means to you and we’ll do great things together.