The Secrets Behind Real Blogger Outreach

by Jason Keath on Jul 15, 2010

Brands love bloggers.

Most brands and agencies, however, are bad at reaching out to them.

Influencers call many platforms home (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Blogs) and come in the form of many scales. Smaller online audiences of influence can be 100 to 10,000 strong. Larger audiences from Twitter and Youtube super users are in the millions.

It is not easy to build the right strategy for finding and reaching out to influencers. So it is no wonder so many people are a little lost. Too often, little thought is given to this process by agencies and the copy and paste emails take over.

Trash the Old Model

The traditional press release and more modern PR email outreach methods do not work. Copying and pasting press release style emails to every influencer email and contact form you can get your hands on is bad in every way. If you don’t get that, then I cannot help you.

The basic problem here is that PR pros love the efficiency of these methods and bloggers hate them because they are rarely personal or even relevant in most instances. Let’s focus less on reaching as many bloggers and influencers as possible and start small.

Rethink the Relationship

The secret is not to seek partnerships with influencers but to seek relationships. Think of it like dating. You (the brand) see this new girl at school (the influencer) and she is really hot. I’m talking like Jessica Rabbit hot.

You want to break the ice. You want to ask her out, get her number, go steady (I think you get it). So what is your first move?

Well for one, here is a list of where you are screwing up…

  • You DON’T mass message every hot girl at school asking for a date.
  • You DON’T expect her to feel lucky to get your attention.
  • You DON’T ask her to go see the latest Vampire movie if she is clearly more of a Sex in the City kind of girl.

And a list of where you will get the girl…

  • You DO get to know what she likes.
  • You DO introduce yourself in person.
  • You DO suggest an activity that benefits you both – a U2 concert, a study session, dinner.
  • You DO suggest an activity that benefits mainly her – a Michael Buble concert, dance lessons, painting pottery.

There is nothing wrong with trying to make more money by encouraging word of mouth about your brand. That is the basis of all marketing. But to really be successful you must focus on personal outreach. And focus less on scale.

How do you do this?

1. Empower More Employees to Build Relationships

Zappos gives every employee social media training when they are hired, including a focus on Twitter. Because of this training they have hundreds of their employees, including customer service specialists and regional reps. Plenty of Zappos employees build relationships with their customers everyday.

This is of course a big boon to retention, but above and beyond that, these consumers are building a closer relationship with the brand and much more likely to become an organic champion. This is the way to scale your influencer outreach, train all your employees on how to use these tools, build online relationships, and how to spot which online consumers might benefit the brand with more access.

2. Empower More Influencers

Offering products and money to influencers is always an option. Whether you are doing a straight exchange of X for Y or sponsoring their blog, there is nothing wrong with supporting an influencer this way. But in addition to these relationships, also look for opportunities to bring value to influencers in the way of access.

Can you give them information that other consumers do not have? Can you give them information earlier than the public or the press? Can you use their feedback to improve the brand or a product? Can you give them a behind the scenes tour? Look for ways to involve them in the brand more. Look for ways to make them special.

Look for ways to make it fun.

3. Meet Influencers in Person

Simple right? When you want to date that hot girl, guess what? If you actually introduce yourself in person your chances of actually getting to know one another increase (I needed this advice in middle school I think).

This is a simple tip, but it is easy to forget. Real world relationships build stronger relationships. Once you have had coffee or a beer with someone, or even just bonded over a bad conference session, you just flat out know one another better than if you emailed or sent messages to one another on Twitter.

If you really want to build strong relationships with bloggers, go to events they are going to (Disclaimer: I run a series of social media conferences). Go to Blogworld and introduce yourself. Speak at a local Wordcamp. Or better yet, host your own events for bloggers. Invite them to a free event put on by your agency or brand.

Bloggers know you want to connect with them to help your clients. Don’t try to hide it, embrace it.

Because guess what? It turns out most bloggers would love to work with brands as well.

Post Author

As the CEO and founder of Social Fresh, Jason is the lead analyst and consultant for all Social Fresh brand clients. Jason has 15+ years of experience as a marketing leader and focuses on how to help brands be more...