Unless you’re brand new to marketing, you’re probably aware that blogging is becoming increasingly influential. An astounding 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs, and 23% of total Internet usage time is devoted to social networks or blogs.That’s a lot of potential exposure, and with word-of-mouth marketing’s growing importance, the ability to deliver your message through a trusted source is extremely valuable.
Establishing relationships with bloggers can deliver many benefits, including publicity to (yes, it’s possible) free content. The key to blogger relationships is to build trust and respect, and to not annoy the blogger by repeatedly asking them to promote your business. By following the tips below, you can establish a network of bloggers that will pay off in increased leads, links (for SEO), social media followers and message exposure.
The benefits of blogger relationships:
- Greater message exposure: Like I said above, some blogs can have upwards of 10,000 followers. That’s a lot of potential exposure to your message. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a large following of your own, there are still benefits to spreading your message to this new audience.
- Increased social proof: Ideally, the publicity you’ll receive from partnering with bloggers will earn you more followers of your own, which will increase your “social proof” factor. What’s social proof? “One of the top things that helps increase a visitor’s confidence in your website, particularly if it is a blog, is evidence of social proof,” says social media blog KissMetrics. “This evidence comes in the form of displaying social engagement numbers including your subscribers, followers, fans, tweets, likes, and other social shares.” Basically, if you can show off that you have a large following, people will automatically be more open to your message. It’s like jumping on a virtual bandwagon.
- Positive reviews: If you’re a product-based business, you should consider letting several influential bloggers review your product (details below). Unless you truly have a terrible product (in which case you have much more serious problems), you’ll end up with several positive reviews that you can show off to the world.
- Opportunities for free content: Because the relationships you develop with bloggers will be based largely on cross-promotion, it’s possible to partner up and receive guest posts or an audience for social media contests.
Tips for strong blogger relationships:
- Product reviews: One of the best ways to reach out to bloggers is by asking them to review your product. There are blogs dedicated to every possible niche group, and it’s easy to find a few blogs in your industry with large followings. A product review is exactly what it sounds like: You’ll offer to send a blogger a free sample of your product so that he/she can review it and post their thoughts online. Be sure to actually read this person’s blog to make sure he/she has done product reviews in the past. Also (and this is very rare), if all the reviews are negative, you may want to find another blogger.
- Use “Best of” lists to find top bloggers: While it’s entirely possible to aggregate your own list manually, it’s far easier to Google “Best Cat Blogs” or “Best Running Blogs.” You’ll get your own list, neatly laid out, and sometimes — if you’re lucky — ranked by following.
- Make use of the follow up: It’s rare that I email a blogger and get a response immediately. Usually, it takes one or two follow ups before they respond. However, if I get to three emails and still don’t get a response, I move on before I risk being annoying.
Growing the relationship:
- Cross-promotion is the goal: If there’s one thing to take away from this post it’s this: Promotion of your product or business is not the only goal. Blogger relationships — like every relationship on the planet — are about give-and-take. One of the fastest ways to get on a blogger’s good side is to share their content. Tweet about their blog posts. Share the memes they post to Facebook and Instagram. Feature quotes (and links!) from their blog posts on your own blog. And do it a lot. I make it a rule to post about each blogger at least once a week, if not more. The entire process is a win-win. They get promoted, you get in their good graces, and (best of all) you get free content! Cross-promotion is my favorite part of the process.
- Bloggers need content too: Want to make a blogger really happy? Offer to provide them content. Marketers have long known the best-performing content is original, but it’s hard work to continuously develop. Make it easier for bloggers by offering to write a guest post or design an infographic. If you do your research and write a good post that will appeal to the blog’s readers, I don’t know of any blogger that will turn you down. You’ll get publicity, links back to your website (which will help with SEO), and the blogger’s eternal gratitude. I’m not exaggerating when I say “eternal;” I’m in love with every single person who’s ever given me good content for free.
- Partner up: The final way to grow your relationship with a blogger is to partner up! Co-host a webinar or co-write a detailed white paper. If you’re a product-based business, you can provide free samples for a contest hosted by the blogger (this is great for cross-promotion). If you’re in the same geographic area, you could even host a live event together.
The phrase “mutually-beneficial relationship” is so overused these days, but I’m throwing it in here anyway. A mutually-beneficial relationship is exactly what you should look to develop; in the end, you’re seeking to become a partner with the blogger — not an annoying business that continually asks the blogger to promote its products or services.
Respectfully reach out to bloggers, offer to provide content, promote their content, and look for ways to form partnerships. Then, once you’ve established trust and respect, when the tables turn and you need something (like publicity about a new product or event), the network of bloggers you’ve developed will be more than happy to help out.