Who’s the most trustworthy source of information after family and friends? Bloggers (according to a survey from Affilinet). People were asked who they trusted more when it came to purchasing decisions – mainstream media outlets or independent bloggers/vloggers. The bloggers came out on top: 57% vs. 43% (econsultancy). With millennials it becomes even more pronounced – with 33% looking to blogs before they make a purchase compared to 3% who rely on more traditional media.
Building consumer trust is a vital stage in the customer journey; it’s the first step to loyalty and advocacy, and helps to spark action. Effective brand outreach with influencers, such as bloggers or vloggers, can help to create a positive word of mouth with a high ROI.
And bloggers are ready to work with you. 46% say they like being contacted by brands with only 1% stating they do not like it. But brands need to compete for blogger relationships. 65% of bloggers surveyed reported that they are contacted several times a week. So to help, we’ve pulled together this guide to running a successful influencer outreach campaign.
What are the goals of your blogger outreach?
What do you want to achieve with your outreach campaign? Do you want to raise awareness or increase purchases? Do you want them to join your campaign and encourage others? These questions are important to help you identify the right kind of bloggers and what you can offer them.
Even if you only want to work with bloggers on a particular campaign, think about longevity when making these connections. You never know when you may want to call on them again.
How to find bloggers, vloggers and influencers
You can start with a Google blog search or YouTube search and then look at specific sites such as Technorati or paid for services such as such as GroupHigh. We’d also advise setting up hashtag searches on social media or alerts.
Then it is important to find ways to rank your list in order to prioritise your communications. Klout score can be a useful guide to social influence and page rank for the blog itself.
After looking at their blog, vlog and online presence you’re ready to ask the following questions. Are they the right fit for your audience and content? Is their audience your audience? It’s also important to make a note of post frequency and check if people are engaging with their content; are they sharing posts or commenting? Can you get an idea of potential reach?
Relevant, niche audiences
Do not worry if your blogger has a low reach if they are in a niche market. It is always better to target relevant people even if you miss out on the top bloggers; Alfie Deyes’ ‘Pointless blog” has over 4 million followers but if your target market is a B2B audience, he won’t bring value to your brand.
Recently we worked on a blogger outreach campaign aimed at parenting websites for a national non-profit. Together for Short Lives is the leading UK charity for all children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions and all those who support, love and care for them. Therefore many of the sites targeted were highly specialised. The campaign was effective because, not only did we have strong, compelling content to share, but we reached out to relevant audiences. The film has more than 11,000 views on YouTube so far and counting – five times the number the charity has achieved for any previous video, and the campaign also featured on blogs with high reach such as Mumsnet.
If you notice a blogger mentioning you online unsolicited, make sure you reward that even if it’s just a ‘thank you’. Don’t miss out on chances to engage with customers and create potential new advocates. A recent report showed that many food brands were missing out on opportunities to engage with fans on social media (with only a 23% response rate to positive tweets and 29% to negative posts).
Don’t allow this to happen to your brand. Set up a brand mention search in your social media management platform, such as Hootsuite, and interact with those mentioning your brand.
Track the bloggers and vloggers
The next step is to follow all these influencers on the social channels which your business uses by adding them to your Twitter lists or following them on Linkedin and so on.
Then you can start to engage with them. Ideally this should be done well in advance of your blogger outreach campaign so that you are starting to build relationships with them. Always start off by interacting in a friendly, helpful way rather than a hard sell. Depending on which market you’re in, you may also be able meet up with bloggers at events to develop the relationship further.
Bloggers want content which their audience will love. Our film for an international street art festival, ‘Who’s Lenny‘, was featured on the world’s largest street art websites and blogs driving thousands of views.
This means you need compelling, relevant content which stands out and then you need to build relationships with and target bloggers, who will reach the right audiences for your video.
When you come to emailing them, find out how they like to be contacted and use their first name if you can. It’s also important to show that you understand their blog and have read it. It’s an obvious point but if you are copy and pasting lots of communications, be careful to not send to the wrong person (we’ve been emailed in this way and it doesn’t impress).
Be clear and transparent
Bloggers are busy people, and you need to be very clear about what you would like them to do. Send them high quality content which they can copy or edit, and be clear about the campaign details such as video links and hashtags.
Transparency is also important to stay within advertising guidelines, and vloggers need to make it clear if they are being paid to promote products. (ASA picked up Oreo last year for its use of vloggers.)
Recently Snickers enlisted vloggers to take part in their “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, which works like a traditional advert – note the hashtag #ad – but draws on the vloggers’ popularity.
You need to be offering something – not necessarily financial – but exclusive content, a first view or a give-away. It’s a two-way relationship, and to entice bloggers, you need to offer them a meaningful partnership.
Fashion brand, Boden uses bloggers such as Liberty London Girl to model their pieces as well as write general lifestyle pieces which their audience would enjoy. The brand develops trust with the blogger’s audience, and the blogger gets advance products and increased exposure.
You can also encourage your existing advocates – your customers – to share your content via blogs, vlogs or social media. High-end fashion brand, Valentino, teamed up with fashion illustration blog, Draw a Dot, for a social media contest, which encouraged people to submit an illustration based on Valentino’s Mime bags.
The user generated content helped both the brand and the blog to increase followers and capture data, curate content, and reach new audiences.
The power of influencer association
Brands do not always have to be content creators, but can pay to be near it. People want to listen to and are influenced by people they relate to. Paid media could be something your brand could consider as part of an outreach campaign. Again, ensure that the blogger is a good fit with your brand identity.
Continue to monitor what the influencers are doing online to ensure that the messages are on brand, and getting an ROI for you.
Whatever your sector, you just cannot afford to ignore influencers. If you follow our tips above, you should look forward to developing strong, effective relationships that help your brand gain trust and meet your business goals.
We’ve written a guide to help you create great content to share with bloggers. Be first to get our white paper.