Daily Archives: April 7, 2013

Reaching Out to Bloggers

Reaching Out

Image courtesy of phanlop88 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While many businesses would like to reach out to bloggers in order to tap new markets, target an existing market, or simply expand their revenue base, they often fail in their attempts to do so. In order to be successful in adding bloggers to their marketing mix, businesses need to find bloggers whose audience aligns with the business’ target audience, develop a relationship with these bloggers, and deliver meaningful content that is easy for bloggers to incorporate into their blogs.

Finding the Right Bloggers

It goes without saying that companies need to have defined their business objects and target markets before they begin looking for bloggers to help them reach these objectives and markets. Once companies have defined their objectives and markets, they must find bloggers who are already reaching out to these desired target markets. In The Art and Science of Blogger Relations, Brian Solis suggests that going after large general topic blogs is not usually a good way to reach more narrowly defined markets. Instead he recommends targeting the “Magic Middle” bloggers, who concentrate on smaller niche markets, yet still have sufficient reach to get their message out to a sizable audience. Among the tools available to help find these bloggers are Google blog search, Technorati, and blogrank. Once potential bloggers are found, it is important to spend time reading their blogs and verifying that they are indeed speaking to your desired audience in a tone that you can support. Don’t forget to spend time researching the individual behind the blog, because you will need this information as well.

Developing a Relationship with Bloggers

It is important to get your new relationship off on the right foot, so once you have learned all you can about the blogger and his/her blog, approach them by contacting them with a personal note (using their preferred means of communication), addressing them by name, and complimenting something in a specific blog post or on their blog site. Make sure to put yourself in their shoes and think about what value you can be bringing to their blog site in exchange for their help in moving you closer to your target audience. Help them see the value you can add by following them, commenting on their posts, publicizing their site, and becoming a part of the “local” community. Finally, make sure your personality shines through in your communications so that you don’t come off sounding like a corporate public relationship department. Always remember that you are building a relationship with a human being who, if you can find common ground, will prefer to interact with you as a fellow human being, and not with a faceless business entity.

Delivering Meaningful Content

Bloggers are always interested in receiving meaningful content that is applicable to their interests. First, you need to make sure that you are offering them unique content or at least content with a unique viewpoint. Offering them content on a topic that they just wrote about the week before is not the way to win them over. You need to act like Wayne Gretzky and skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been, so remember to offer content which discusses new topics or revisits older ones in a way that makes them fresh and relevant again. Make the content you offer easy for the blogger to consume by stating your case succinctly and incorporating links, infographics, videos, podcasts, and some tweetable 140 character “sound bites”. If you regularly contribute good content and interesting ideas while continuing to build a strong human to human relationship, your blogger outreach is likely to succeed.

If you are a blogger, what motivates you to work with someone who reaches out to you? What deal breakers have you experienced in the past that have caused you to spurn attempts to reach out to you? What successes or failures have you experienced with blogger outreach partnerships?

Placing Value On Your Community

In Community: The Inbound Resource You Forgot About, Jennifer Sable Lopez of SEOmoz discusses the value of online community to a business or organization’s inbound marketing outposts.  Whether it be content, blogging (including earned media through blogger outreach), or social media, community is the common theme among inbound or referring resources.  As Lopez states, “…our community (whoever that may be for your particular organization) is right there, standing tall.”

Community DefinitionLopez’ article stuck with me throughout this week because it almost serves as a microcosm of #CMGRclass itself: it supports concepts we’ve talked about in earlier weeks (see: Listening to Your Community, Building a Community From Scratch, Planning a Community) while touching upon topics coming up in the future (see: Ambassador Programs, Metrics).  She poses the question, “What should “community” mean to you?” and offers potential roles that members of a community can play.  For me, coming from the perspective of a not-for-profit organization, a community is an organization’s brand advocates (both lovers and, at times, critics), members, sharers of content, and sometimes, even content generators.

The Value of Community

Given the multitude of roles that an online community can play, it’s no surprise that community is vitally important to a business or organization.  While it can be difficult to place a tangible value on a community, Lopez offers these thought-provoking questions as a multi-step process of determining a community’s value.

  1. Figure out who the community is in your organization.  Who are they?  What do they care about?  What online properties do they visit?  Why do you care?  A community manager can answer these questions by examining web/blog analytics, Facebook Insights, and website signup data.
  2. Figure out what your community really cares about.  Do they simply want a daily email update?  Will they share community content?  Will they visit your forums?  There’s only one way to get to the root of these questions: ask the community.  Information can be gathered from a survey sent via email or a poll added to a website/blog or social media site.
  3. Determine how much time/energy/money you’re putting into your community.  Where are you, as community manager, spending your time?  Creating blog content?  Managing social media sites?  Gathering and examining analytics?  Are you paying someone to help in one or more of these areas?  It’s critical to know where resources are being allocated now so that they can be adjusted going forward.
  4. Are you spending your time/energy on the things your community actually cares about?  At the intersection of identifying your community and their interests and determining where energy is currently being directed is a sweet spot: are these three factors aligned?  Will your hard work in one area pay off given the interests or preferences of the community?  (Lopez’ example of Twitter particularly hit home for me, as I have recently come to a similar conclusion for at least one of the non-profits with which I’m involved.)
  5. Rinse and repeat.  These four steps are not a one-time process.  Instead, Lopez advises, “Don’t stop simply because you found something that works for now.  The biggest takeaway here is also that you need to determine what works for YOU.”

Near the end of the article, Lopez discusses the value of community to her company, saying in step 5, “Because without our amazing community, we’re just another software company.”  What is your community to you?  What intangible value do they bring to your business or organization?

(Embedded image by Flickr user DragonBe.  Featured image by Flickr user Newfrontiers.)