The internet and social media have created a venue for open marketing.  It’s called the Blog. No longer are “readers” designated to print alone. Reading is now accessible to anyone that has connection to the web. Social Media has enabled more people to read up on their points of interests. People are turning to the views of bloggers for information on a specific topic and because they are seen as a trusted source. Added to that, bloggers are perceived as everyday people – one of “us” – and essentially they are.  Bloggers tend to be very upfront about the experience they have with various products, stating whether or not they were paid or if they are acting as a brand ambassador. Transparency is what makes them trustworthy. Knowing that that there is no hidden agenda helps bloggers create a very loyal following. The beauty of blogging is that anyone, anywhere can do it; but, it must be done well, especially when we are speaking about brands and brand voice.

So why are blogs worth considering?
That’s an easy one… and is part of Marketing 101: Bloggers are another channel through which brands can reach their target markets based on psychographics. That in itself is exciting. Bloggers are a great way to reach a niche target market that may not be accessible with traditional media. There are blogs on everything, from cooking to parenting and even someone chronicling their journey in the Himalayan Mountains. Marketers can make use of bloggers by having them write reviews for products and services, promote contests and events, or even establish the forum themselves and engage with their audience one on one.

So why aren’t bloggers included in more marketing campaigns?
Much like traditional PR, there is no guarantee that a blogger will be interested in your product or service and if they do agree to a review, you can’t control what they’ll say. However, there is a way to overcome this obstacle. You can buy advertising space on blogs that garner attention from your target audience. Although, the most effective outreach happens when bloggers write review posts of their own accord. You have to EARN that review by convincing the blogger that your product or service is worth writing about.

How to identify appropriate bloggers?
Social Media isn’t easy and it isn’t inexpensive, there is a significant amount of time and energy involved when doing research. The first step is to identify influential bloggers. This can prove to be difficult depending on how specific your target audience is. There are a few different methods a brand can take when trying to locate bloggers:

  • Look within: Brands may already be connected to bloggers and not even know it. Checking Twitter and Facebook followers and looking through website comment sections is one way brands can find bloggers that may already be tuned in to them. If a blogger has already engaged with a brand, they are more likely to get on board.
  • Simply search: Running a search of brand keywords and images can be a good way for brands to identify bloggers. If a brand has been mentioned on top influencing blogs chances are it will come up in a search. Searching competitors is also a good idea. If the competition has been mentioned on any blogs, it may be a good idea to approach those blogs.
  • Turn to tools: Online tools that rank and organize websites and blogs are everywhere. Turning to sites such as Bloglovin, Technorati, BlogCatalog and Alexa can prove helpful in finding  influential bloggers. Tools that specialize in blogger outreach are also great to take advantage of.  There are a number of tools out there such as BlogDash and GoupHigh that help brands find, research, and track blogger outreach efforts.

5 things you should know to help you fine tune and optimize your results on your blog:

  1. Where is the blog located? This one can be tricky, most bloggers don’t include a physical address in their profile description. But it is worth knowing, if you are trying to get a product promoted that is only available in certain locations, you want to avoid blogs that are outside those area. For example if a product is only available in Canada, you don’t want to reach out to bloggers from the States. If it isn’t mentioned on the site, email and ask.
  2. What topics do they cover? Make sure that the topics featured within the blog are relevant to your brand or its target audience.
  3.  Are they PR/marketing friendly? Not all blogs accept product from PR or marketing firms. Look at some of their previous posts and see if any reviews or promotions have been included, if not, reaching out to them may be a waste of time.
  4. Is your product or service a good “fit”?  Blogs can fall into a general category, but take a specific stance. For example, there are a lot of food blogs, but some cater to a vegan-organic-gluten free audience. Be sure to determine the bloggers point-of-view and make sure your brand falls within it.
  5. What is their audience reach? If a blog is PR/marketing friendly or accepts advertising, they usually have a media kit with site stats such as audience reach, demographics etc. This is important to know, because you want to create as much awareness as possible. Try targeting those with a high number of unique visitors per month. If there isn’t a media kit available to download, just ask.

Once you have all the required information, put it to use and tailor your pitch to the individual blog: mention past posts, say why you think your product is a good fit for their blog and why their readers need to know about it. Also be sure to mention what’s in it for them, whether it be free product (because who doesn’t love free stuff!) or some sort of kick back.

Blogger outreach doesn’t have to be difficult, you just need to pay attention to the details and put yourself out there. How do you successfully integrate blogs into your marketing campaign? We’d like to hear about it here!