Tag Archive for blogger outreach

Listen up!: Using comments, blogger outreach, and ambassador programs to build your community

When trying to grow or maintain your community, it is essential to provide your audience with unique opportunities to interact with your brand. Comments, blogger outreach, and ambassador programs are all paths through which a CM can better connect with the community. Read on to see what I’m talking about.

Comments
Read between the lines

As if it hasn’t been said enough times, Buzzing Communities reminds us that the customer is always right! ALWAYS. Take it from someone who has angrily reached out to brands on social media many times, I always remember which brands were pleasant to deal with, and which were not. Online conflict resolution is not only vital in that it calms dissatisfied customers, but the manner in which this resolution is dealt with speaks highly to the brand — and the reason why it’s included on this list.

Blogger Outreach
Why is this even necessary?

Unlike journalists, most bloggers are not constrained by traditional media models. In The Best Practice Guide for Effective Blogger Outreach, an eBook by InkyBee, it is noted that bloggers have instant and exponential reach. They are also a source of “earned media,” a relationship that is based on a real connection — both on and offline. PR professional Sally Falkow said that a BlogHer study showed that women in the US rank blogs as their “number one source of information.” That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of power.

The first steps

Once you decide blogger outreach is the way you want to go, you need to devise a plan. First, consider all of the possible outcomes that, according to Jenn Pedde’s “Building Community in Blogger Outreach” presentation, blog outreach can yield:

  • SEO/link building
  • Increased sales
  • Engaged customers/users
  • Product testing
  • Being the dominant voice in your industry
  • Being the most trusted voice in your industry

Next, InkyBee recommends identifying the blogs where the target audience lives. And Pedde reminds us that not all blogs are created equal. In fact, according to a chart entitled “Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building” (Fig. 1) in her presentation, there are five tiers of blogs: news outlets, large blog outlets, influencers, specific subject, and everyone else.

Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building (via Jenn Pedde's "Building Community in Blogger Outreach")

Fig. 1: Blogger Outreach: Tiers of Blogging and Link Building (via Jenn Pedde’s “Building Community in Blogger Outreach”)

Perhaps the most important piece of advice offered from InkyBee is to remember to personalize your pitch to the blogger. Investigate how they prefer to communicate — Twitter, Facebook, Quora — and capitalize on it. You need to offer something that mutually beneficial; no one likes to walk down a one-way street.

Keeping it going

Once this mutually beneficial relationship is established, be sure to not let the relationship die. You’ve worked this hard – so keep it up! Thank them, continue providing them with good content, and maybe treat them to a nice lunch 🙂 Be sure to also store his/her contact information and maintain and updated blogger database.

Brand Ambassador Programs
Say what?

brand ambassador program, as defined by Mack Collier:

… allows for an ongoing, working relationship with special customers who are fans of your brand. Their job is to stay in constant contact with your customers, not only promoting you to these customers, but also giving you invaluable feedback on what your customers think about your brand.

As a result, as a CM, you gain a greater understanding of your target and can pass along valuable insights to your marketing and advertising teams. Brand ambassador programs are especially helpful for larger companies, who find it overwhelming to connect with their consumers.

Collier offers 10 tips for creating a brand ambassador program. Three of my favorites are:

  • Spread the world internally as well as externally
    • If you don’t have the entire organization behind any given initiative, it’s doomed to fail
  • Make membership exclusive
    • You want to ensure that you are giving “membership” to the customers who are true advocates to the brand and who are truly committed. No phonies allowed!
  • Give your advocates direct access to the brand
    • Be sure that your ambassadors have access to some executives or people of significance at the company. These people are the “brand’s biggest defenders and advocates,” so it is essential that their voice is always heard by someone who has the power to enact change.

Buzzing Communities also recommends that brand ambassadors meet at least one of these criteria:

  • High levels of activity
  • High levels of expertise or passion for the topic
  • Distinctive contributions
  • Interesting real-life positions
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Great contacts
  • Overall strategic fit

 

Many agencies and brands who are looking to reach college students are now targeting these same students to be their brand ambassadors (image via MrYouth http://mryouth.com/)

Many agencies and brands who are looking to reach college students are now targeting these same students to be their brand ambassadors (image via MrYouth http://mryouth.com/)

Choose wisely!

 

Which of these three avenues do you think best suites your brand? Try them out and let me know!

 

Doing Your Homework: The Key to Becoming a Great Community Manager

Reading

CMs need to learn on-the-go. From moriza on flickr.

The easiest way to become a terrible community manager is to focus solely on your own community.

Does that seem contradictory? It shouldn’t. A past panel mentioned that community managers aren’t just managing members – they’re also managing communities within communities. Same goes for the other way: your community is probably one among many other communities just like it. If you’re going to get anywhere with your community, you need to be a full incorporated member of sister communities, too.

So what’s the biggest thing you can do to strengthen your community management skills?

It’s simple: research.

In a presentation on Blogger Outreach, Jenn Pedde (our own #CMGRclass leader!) offers some advice in a presentation one how to stand out from the crowd in the sea of community managers.

KNOW YOUR BLOGS

This is a logical first step for CMs. Understanding where your blog exists among others is the best way to understand your position and to whom you need to reach out.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH

Another step to building a community is reaching out. A great way to spread the word is to create an ambassador program: an integrated team of people who love yours community and want to help it grow. When creating this team, Mack Collier insists that research is key to understand who will be the best people.

You can’t just sit back an pick the most active people: you need to watch, listen, and converse with people. Research, after all, isn’t just reading up!

EVERYTHING IS STRATEGIC

From Britt Michaelian’s blog post, she emphasizes how people are rejecting traditional marketing, and instead they crave connection.

Community managers are driven by this demand to supply connection, and most likely they are the kind of person that’s naturally good at it. What Michealian reminds us is that it’s important to remember how every action by a successful community manager is backed by a strategy. Every exchange is carefully crafted to maximize returns to the community.

Although “strategic” and “crafted” sounds like community managers aren’t genuine, it’s actually a good thing. CMs, after all, want people to find connections in their community. That’s their job. If a community manager can help someone make that connection, they try their hardest to establish it. Wouldn’t you want someone to do that for you?

This means that community managers are consistently watching other communities and community managers and learning from their every move. Where have they made mistakes? What has made them a big success? What are the best tried-and-true methods? When is it a good idea to step outside the box?

Being a community manager is like being in a relationship: they are not easy to maintain, they take a lot of work, and you learn from the past to get better next time. The only way to keep afloat is to constantly learn, make mistakes, reevaluate, and try hard.

What do you think about researching for community managers? If you’re a community manager, do you actively research throughout your day or week? Or is it more passive?

3 Dos (and 1 Don’t) for Reaching Out to Bloggers

This week’s topic of discussion dealt with blogger outreach, or, fostering a relationship with, and offering services to, online writers who might prove beneficial to a brand or company in some capacity. From class, we’ve learned that connection is key, but there are definitely right—and wrong—ways for going about it.

Image courtesy of Social Media Marketing University

DO…

1. …Have a goal in mind.

Blogger outreach starts in-house, a point stressed in the ebook, “The Best Practice for Effective Blogger Outreach,” which tells businesses to have objectives lined out. Much in the same way that an army can’t go to battle without a strategy, a business can’t extend itself online without an idea of why. Identifying one’s objectives also means identifying a target audience, effectively narrowing down the wide pool of bloggers on the Web to a relevant selection.

Tips:

  • Research potential target audience first. You should know everything about them going in—not the other way around.
  • Social media isn’t the only factor to keep in mind. PR and brand awareness is good and all, but not if they don’t translate into some sort of revenue.

2. …Be creative with your methodology.

According to “12 Ways Strong Social Brands Connect With Their Audience,” Britt Michaelian makes a point of saying that it’s not enough to just have a voice online; it should also be different from anything else online. Easier said than done, yes, but it helps if you’re already in touch with blogger lingo and etiquette, as referenced in “Building Community in Blogger Outreach.” Do what you see other prominent bloggers doing; tap into their interests and make it work to your advantage.

Tips:

  • As in real life, don’t be afraid to have a quirky personality. “Weird” or “eccentric” just means being one step above the white noise of the Internet.
  • The Denny’s blog, for instance, benefits from being hosted on Tumblr: They can post topical things they see other Tumblr users responding to and reblogging themselves.

3. …Build loyalty for your brand.

The best way of going about this is offering accessibility. In Britt Michaelian’s “How to Build Fierce Loyalty for Your Brand Community,” she argues for helping audiences feel “wanted and needed within the community.” By creating spaces for discussion and thinking in terms of we than I, brands can maintain conversation that will slowly but surely lead to support from within the community.

Tips:

  • Extend across social media platforms. The more places for discussion, the more loyal customers.
  • Lead, but don’t make it apparent. You’re not there to herd people around; you’re there to engage them.

DON’T…

1. …Forget to be human.

This seems to be at the crux of everything we’ve learned this semester, but that’s because it doesn’t become any less true the more we learn about community management. Press releases and cold calling (…blogging), then, are ill-advised ways of reaching out to bloggers. Instead, stay honest and stay personable. Don’t be afraid of humanizing a brand—thinking small-scale also means paying more attention to detail, which works miles on online readers.

Share your thoughts—or any other dos and don’ts—in the comments below!

Blogger Outreach Done Right – 5 Tips

Bloggers have become almost “God-like” in world of social media. The power of the internet has an immense impact on they way we communicate and bloggers have learned to harness it. They know how to reach a large audience (some across the globe) and are masters at promoting something they believe in. So it makes sense that other bloggers want to connect/link with them and businesses want them to promote their product or service. All of this is good stuff, but there are ways to reach out to bloggers,some are wrong some are right. Lets look at the right ways!

 

global presence

Tip #1- Blogs are Earned Media

  • Bloggers have done a lot of work to build their community, respect that
  • They have earned the respect of others online and need yours when approaching them (you must earn their respect)
  • Bloggers relationships with community and others is “all important”

Blogger outreach is not a quick win. You will need to invest time, effort, and patience. Spend time to get to know the bloggers and what they represent. Check them out on other social media channels to make sure they are a fit for you and you are a fit for them. You can know they are a fit after you determine who your target audience is, what their interests are and where they “hang out”. Remember, trust and respect are everything as you start to build your your relationship.

community manager orange

 Tip #2 – Help To Promote the Bloggers

  • Subscribe to their blog
  • Promote them on your Facebook page or Google+ and follow them on Twitter and re-tweet their best tweets
  • Offer them an interview or promote them to someone who will value their interview
  • Talk to colleagues about them and mention them in speaking engagements

Bloggers are looking to grow their own audience so they will value the fact that you have helped to promote them. This will also help you to build a transparent relationship with them that is based on mutual trust and engagement. This collaboration will serve both of you well.

blogging

 Tip #3 – Make It Easy for the Blogger to Write

  •  Give them the details in a short, concise manner and make it easy to read
  • Feed them an angle to make the story more interesting
  • Supply appropriate images and links to website

By making the writing an easier task, you will help the blogger, create a stronger relationship and give the blogger a reason to continue to work with them. Relationships are the most important issue in this world of social media, so do everything you can to maintain and grow yours with the bloggers. Making their life easier will certainly go far to help this process.

King Content

Tip #4 – Content is King

  • Make sure your content is relevant to the bloggers audience
  • Keep your message fresh, entertaining, and interesting
  • Be sure to be informative but DO NOT try to give a sales pitch ( do some impactful storytelling instead)

Quality is everything when approaching a blogger. The content you provide must be the most current information and should be shared in the context of a good story rather than a sales pitch. Keep it interesting and use humor when possible. Don’t forget to use relevant keywords and hyperlinks to get the best SEO posible.

 

track and measure

Tip #5 – Track and Measure

  • Once your story is featured have the blogger notify you so you can see the comments and interact with the community
  • Promote the post through your own social media channels and track levels of engagement
  • Measure what matters – use free or low cost tool to measure your predetermined objectives
  • Create a report weekly to see the progress

Always set your objectives for the campaign ahead of time. This will help you to determine what metrics to measure. Be sure to set up an automated system to keep track of the progress in case you get tied up. Use tools that you can become comfortable with – Google Alerts, Trackur, Inkybee, Viralheat are few to take a look at.

It is important to treat your potential brand manager as a partner  not a faceless tool. Be thankful for their help and don’t bombard them. Make them feel special! I hope you gained some insightful information and your time reading was well spent. I would love you to share some tools that you use for tracking and measuring as I am always on the lookout for improvements.

Until next time -“Happy Trails”!

 

Blogger outreach and the establishment of community

According to Jenn Pedde’s presentation, blogger outreach is the act of extending services or benefits to the author of an online log, which contains their own observations, experiences, or knowledge relevant to a specific topic. Bloggers are generally considered to be experts in their field and have an established audience relevant to their topic(s). There are various advantages to engaging bloggers to be an active member of your community which include:

  • Additional Traffic from Their own Established Fan base
  • Potential ad revenue from additional traffic
  • Increase in social media exposure
  • Targeted audience

2971658475_e27d08f561_m[1]What NOT to do while reaching external bloggers

As Community Managers, we have a responsibility to represent our established community in a professional and respectful manner. While reaching out to any external parties, especially experienced bloggers, you need to ensure that you understand their goals and audience. Without understanding the author of the blog, you cannot relate to them and it often results in inaccurate communications being sent to them.

I used to run my own blog that centered on IT-related topics, such as software development, IT training, and business process improvement. During the time my blog was online, I received several e-mails from other reps from various online communities. These representatives sent generic e-mails requesting my participation for their .com, which generally involved adding my insights to their customer forums. The problems with these generic solicitations was that they were, in fact, “generic” meaning that they had no idea what I was doing with my own blog.

Why is this a bad thing? This is an easy question to answer… I knew that they had no investment in my blog, nor did they care about my success as a blogger in my field. A generic template being sent to a massive e-mail distribution list doesn’t help my enthusiasm with the Community Manager’s belief in my blog’s purpose.  Community Managers must read the blog and know what the author is attempting to achieve, all of which can assist with their “sell” of a bloggers participation in the community.

What should community managers do?

Community Managers need to invest time into researching a blogger’s material. Once the manager knows what a blogger is doing, they can reach out to them personally via e-mail. Making a personal connection with the author can achieve their buy-in to your community therefore enabling you to reap the benefits of the relationship.

Overall, reaching out to bloggers is a great way to further promote a community and can enable you access to a new audience. Relationships with the bloggers themselves are key to ensure their buy-in and active participation in your community.

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?

The Importance of Blogger Outreach, Even for Small Blogs

I have a blog about things to do in New York City. It started out as a personal venture; it was basically an online journal of my favorite places in NYC that I could share with family and friends. When I started it, I loved to read others’ blogs, but I was clueless about making my own.  I was also clueless about the strong community that makes up the blogger world. blogger outreachI have learned that it is a massive and diverse community of people,  strangers who I have never met and probably never will, that are unbelievably supportive of one another.

For large companies, blogger outreach is helpful for spreading the word about a product or a service that is mutually beneficial for the company and for the blogger.  The article The Blogger Outreach Equation, by Kelsey Libert, explains the AIDAS principle for blogger outreach:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action
  • Satisfaction

She used this principle to create the Blogger Outreach Equation picture below:

blogger outreach equation

Blogger Outreach Equation from http://www.seomoz.org/

I think this equation also works for small personal blogs. If you have a personal blog, you might not be selling a product or a service, but you are, in a way, selling your thoughts, ideas or expertise in a certain area. By connecting with other bloggers, you can learn from each other, find new things to try and do, and expand your network. Here’s how small blogs can use Kelsey’s AIDAS principle:

  1. Awareness: Leave a comment on your favorite blog or tweet to your favorite blogger. Make them aware that you find what they write about of interest to you. Doesn’t it feel great to know that people enjoy your work? Share the love and let them know you appreciate what they do. Chances are they will return the favor.
  2. Interest: You should blog about things that interest you, but you should also blog about things that your community/potential community is interested in. I find that I get the most likes on my photo posts, so I try to do those often to please my readers.
  3. Desire: By desire, Kelsey means establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other bloggers. The desire to want to help each other out. Maybe you ask to repost your favorite bloggers story or ask them to write a guest post for your blog. blog pressFor me, since I often write about specific venues, restaurants, bars, etc., it is mutually beneficial for me to write something nice about a place that I visit and for them to share it with their community. They get good press and I get page views.
  4. Action: Blogger outreach doesn’t just happen and it isn’t always mutually beneficial. Do your homework, search for blogs that are in your genre of work, read blogs that are similar to yours. Even though I like reading blogs about other cities, someone who writes about San Francisco probably would not find it helpful for their community to repost one of my stories about New York City.  But for example, I love writing about art, and if I do my research, I could find a NYC blog that might be lacking in stories about art. I could offer my services to fill their content void.
  5. Satisfaction: Both bloggers need to be happy about collaborating. How did the post do? Was it well received by the blogger’s community? The relationship shouldn’t just stop after the blog has been posted. Follow up with each other, send tweets, stay connected. In her post, Kelsey states, “it’s imperative that you continue to build these relationships for future partnerships.”

Do you have your own blog? Do you reach out to other bloggers? Please share how you build relationships with other bloggers and what you find most helpful.