Jon Wade | February 21, 2013
This month I wanted to address some important ways to improve your blogger/online influencer relations strategy. It’s more and more often the case that “blogger outreach” is a key component of today’s communication and marketing plans. But before embarking on an “outreach” strategy consider the following three key questions:
1. Do you really know who you want to outreach to?
It takes a considerable amount of time and effort to understand who your key online influencers are. Unlike traditional media with a limited number of media owners per geography, there are potentially thousands of online influencers spread across the globe that might be relevant.
Take the time to research your targets. Use tools like Brandwatch, Brandtology, or Radian6 (or any other of the hundreds of tools out there) to help you create a long list of influencers based on a weighted scorecard of their reach, the engagement of their audience with their content (how much they share, comment, etc.), the frequency of their updates, their relevance to your brand or organization, and any other criteria you consider important. Check to see if they work with your competitors and if historically they have been an advocate or detractor of your brand or organization.
Then from the long list, undertake more in-depth desk-based research to get the list down to a manageable number of key targets. A realistic number for an initial outreach activity is between 50 – 100. Only a proportion of these influencers are actually going to want to work with you so research more than you think you actually need to achieve your communication objectives.
2. You know what the blogger or influencer can do for you, but what can you do for them?
Biggest mistake – making the assumption that because your brand or organization is awesome (in your opinion) all influencers are automatically going to want to work with you. They won’t.
Second biggest mistake – spamming your short list with the same boilerplate pitch. This won’t work and worse, will cause negative coverage. Don’t do it. Influencers in the same industry know each other and will happily embarrass a brand online with a clumsy or amateurish approach. You might be busy, but so are they – most of these influencers are running their sites in their spare time and get hundreds of approaches a month. They don’t appreciate being spammed.
You need to tailor your approach to each of the influencers individually and consider what you are offering them by having them feature your content on their site. What is the value-exchange? Is it compelling content that their audience is going to enjoy consuming? Is it a unique angle? Is it some form of “money-can’t-buy” access? Is it money (in some cases and more frequently, cold hard cash is required, just like it is for celebrity endorsement)? Consider what you are prepared to offer to each and every individual influencer in return for coverage.
3. Are you looking for a long-term relationship or a one-night-stand?
Influencers are in it for the long term. They are on a never-ending mission to increase the size of their audience and the engagement of their audience with their content, to become more influential, to command a greater say over their respective fields, and ultimately to create more value (usually equals money) from their online presence. But are you in it for the long term?
You need to consider the type of activity you are about to embark on as a media relations strategy. That means a long-term relationship and not a one-night-stand, with follow-up and ongoing management and communication with the influencers. A short-term brand-centric approach will inevitably end in tears and a very short short list in time as influencers who feel used turn their back on you and even turn into detractors.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.