The simple guide to better blogger partnerships – Part 1

Blogs. It’s hard to browse the web without stumbling across one. You name the topic, there’s someone blogging on it. Food? Of course. Babies? Everywhere. Fashion? Don’t get me started.  What’s more, many of these blogs are extremely popular, very well done and, for a continually rising amount of the creators, a financially viable full-time job. Look at Perez Hilton for instance (apologies for the horrible example). He created his initial blog PageSixSixSix.com in late 2004, and in 2007 (after a name change to Perezhilton.com) it was claimed the site had 8.82 million views over a 24 hour period. Since then, his name tops the list when it comes to celebrity gossip. He’s even (unfortunately) considered a minor celebrity in his own right. A slightly more home-grown (and much more interesting) example is Mashable. For those who don’t know, Mashable was created in 2005 by Pete Cashmore from his Aberdeen home. With a primary focus on social media news, as well as mobile, technology and web development, Mashable was named one of the 25 best blogs in 2009 by Time and, after checking yesterday, has over 4 million Twitter followers and over 2.5 million Facebook fans. Not bad. In the last decade, blogs have risen from a state of somewhat obscurity, to a viable and profitable mainstream marketing channel. And it’s one that brands are increasingly looking to for marketing purposes. Whether you’re a start-up, an established brand, or an SEO, this two-part article hopes to give you some simple tips on how to identify, contact, and work with bloggers.

So why work with bloggers? And what are the benefits?

There are numerous reasons for partnering with blogs. One such reason is simple brand awareness. For smaller brands, and especially start-ups, increasing brand awareness is one of the main reasons for partnering with a blog, or multiple blogs for that matter. By offering the blogger a sample, a trial or a free product, a business can immediately increase awareness through the blogger’s followers and subsequent social media conversations. Many brands, both big and small, will team up with bloggers for a product launch. A large company, Topshop let’s say, might partner with an established fashion blogger, who has an extensive and loyal fan base, for the launch of a new clothing range. By doing this, they can have the clothing line directly marketed to a targeted following who will be interested in both the products, and the fact that this particular blogger is promoting them. Many brands will partner with bloggers solely for social media purposes, as they may have a much larger following on Twitter than they do on their blog, and a tweet may be much more beneficial than a review. Some smaller brands (as well as the larger ones) will be driven by SEO purposes and the intention of gaining links from blog posts created, tweets made, and resulting conversations about the brand and the product through social media channels. Finally, there’s sales. In most, if not all cases, sales will be an integral part of the relationship, and will be one of the key reasons for working with bloggers. Even if it’s not the primary reason, it’s likely to be in the list somewhere.

How do bloggers work, and in what ways can I work with them?

First off, remember that all bloggers work differently. Whereas a full-time blogger might email you three times a day to let you know how they’re getting on, a part-time blogger who goes to work during the day might only get back to you every few days. The motivation for a partnership will differ from blogger to blogger, so don’t assume anything, always ask. If the blogger has one, check their media kit, this will often help you understand their methods and can inform your approach. Here’s a few ways that you might work with a blogger:

Reviews

Arguably the most common way to work with a blogger, a review is a great way to increase your brand awareness and also, if you’re lucky, earn you some valuable links back to your website.

Interviews

While not as common, or possible sometimes, an interview is a unique way of marketing your brand through someone, instead of a review. It can help give customers a different insight into your product and your brand by showing its ‘human’ side. For more about this, read this great post by Nicholas Tart

Feedback

Here’s something you might not have thought of. If you can afford to send them a sample, free trial, or even the actual product itself, many bloggers will be happy to give you some feedback, which is a great way to get some real comments from those that know the market you’re pitching for.

Giveaways/Prize draw

Everyone loves a good giveaway. Readers will love getting the chance to win a prize, bloggers will love the traffic their blog receives (and any other incentives), and the client will love all the brand awareness, site-traffic and, ultimately, sales. Of course, many of these will have a positive SEO outcome, from links to likes, from shares to sales, all of these methods can be great for a site’s rankings, trust flow and visibility. But remember: As tried and tested as these methods are, don’t be afraid to go beyond the traditional and think outside the box (sorry for the cliché). Blogging is relatively new, so don’t be afraid to get creative! Have you worked with bloggers in some super creative way? Have I missed something glaringly obvious? I’d love to hear from you if so, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @robertjmcgill. Tune in next week for Part 2 of this article, where I’ll talk about how to find relevant blogs, how to approach and work with them, as well as ways of measuring success. You wont want to miss it! — Header image courtesy of Annie Mole

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