Hana Bieliauskas

Building Blogger Engagement Into Your Digital Strategy

Video Transcription

Hi there. My name is Hana and I’m excited to chat with you today about how to build Blogger engagement into your digital strategy. I’ve included my Twitter handle on here, as well as that for Inspire PR Group. I hope you’ll follow both, so we can continue the conversation online.

The question that I get asked quite often is, “Why should I allocate budget to engage with bloggers?” Clients ask me that quite often and I have to tell them the reasons why. Here are seven of the main reasons that I tell clients they should consider engaging with bloggers.

The first is influence. Bloggers are considered experts and can reach key audiences. Whether they write about food, do product reviews or write about travel or lifestyle, their readers very likely may be part of your client’s target audience. They may be a very good way to get the message out.

The second is trust. Followers listen to what bloggers have to say and what they share. That influences what those followers buy and how they think.

The third is reach. Bloggers have large, engaged networks on their sites and on social media. Bloggers are very savvy online and can reach the large audiences where those audiences like to interact. That’s not just limited to a blogger’s actual site. That might be on Facebook, on Twitter and on Pinterest. Bloggers are active all over the internet.

Next is storytelling. I always like to think of digital as a story and bloggers are a key component of telling that story. They’re an extremely useful tool to tell these stories and they can tell them in a way that their audiences understand.

Next is creativity. I’m always impressed at how bloggers find creative and innovative ways to share information. Whether it’s sharing beautiful photos or engaging writing, bloggers are really effective at tailoring content to leverage the strengths of various social networks.

Now on to investment. I really think that blogger engagement is a gift that keeps on giving. When you engage with bloggers, the content they share lasts forever online. That means it can be re-shared and re-packaged so the ROI is really high. For example, some of the bloggers that I have worked with have developed recipes for a certain time of year. Those can also be leveraged and shared at different times of the year. It’s really a great way to get the messages out there repeatedly.

The last one is partners. Bloggers may become some of your strongest brand ambassadors. Bloggers can become your clients’, really, best allies, because they can provide genuine opinions and shape public perception among key audiences.

How can you involve bloggers as part of your larger digital strategy? If you’re planning a campaign, you can think about involving bloggers in online- and social media-based initiatives, such as Twitter parties, Facebook promotions, recipe development or guest blogs. Think about engaging bloggers to co-host Twitter parties, for example. That might help raise awareness for the party and boost attendance, because bloggers have those really large and engaged networks.

Then, maybe involve them in helping promote giveaways or other promotions online. I work with bloggers a lot on recipe development. The bloggers develop creative recipes using products that my clients are involved with, and then they share them via their sites and on social media.

Guest blogs may be another idea to get bloggers involved. When bloggers guest post, they can help promote the post to their networks and it’s a great way for them to build additional followers.

Make it easy for bloggers to share key messages. One way that I do that is developing pre-written social media messages and graphics for the bloggers to share. These are really busy people, so they’ll really appreciate it and it ensures that they stay on message and include key points, links, handles and hashtags.

Another way to involve bloggers might be to feature them in other multimedia content, such as videos or maybe other graphic content, such as infographics. You might feature a blogger, for instance, in a short video that might be used for social media or integrated into ad campaigns. For instance, I’ve worked with bloggers on cooking videos, where they will actually prepare a recipe and then it’ll be integrated into clients’ advertising campaigns and used for social media outreach. You might also re-package some of the blogger’s content into infographics or other graphics.

Another way to work with bloggers might be to partner with them. You could sponsor a blogger to attend a conference or an event that’s relevant to your clients and they could promote your client while they’re there. For example, I’ve worked with clients to sponsor bloggers to attend some events hosted by BlogHer. Those have been really effective because the blogger is actually on the ground there, promoting the client, and in some cases, the client is there as well, and they can really work together and get the most out of the event.

Also, think about pitching bloggers in conjunction with reporters. When you’re coming up with a media target list, also add bloggers to it. Bloggers can really act like reporters to get the story out there, so definitely think about involving them.

Where do you find bloggers exactly? That’s another question I get asked quite often. I use online databases. GroupHigh is a great one and also I do use Cision. Also, blogging communities are a great way to find new bloggers, for example, BlogHer, Bloggy Moms, other online communities out there and also local communities. A lot of US cities or just parts of the country have creative blogging communities and they’re really active. You can identify potential bloggers there, especially if you’re doing some type of localized or regional campaign.

Another great way is by attending events, such as conferences. They can provide invaluable face time with bloggers from all over the country and even the world.

It’s well worth your time to attend some of these events, because in some cases, there are hundreds of bloggers there and they’re really ready to network and really ready to meet some new brands to work with.

One of the best ways that I’ve personally found to identify new bloggers is Twitter. I follow some prominent bloggers or some of my favorite bloggers on Twitter and I really just keep an eye out to see who they’re talking to and what they’re talking about and then I investigate those bloggers and if there’s somebody that I might be interested in following, I do. That’s a great way to start networking there.

You might look for mentions or features on some of those favorite blogs that you follow. If there’s a few bloggers that you’re working with, you might see if they mention other bloggers in some of their posts or if they’re listed in the blogroll on their sites. You might also just ask for recommendations. I do this quite often. I have probably about 20-25 bloggers that I work with pretty consistently. I really do trust them to recommend other great bloggers for me to work with. I’m never afraid to ask and neither should you.

How do you find out if a blogger is the right fit for your clients or for your company or brand? First, I always tell everybody to read back years, if possible, on a blogger’s blog. Don’t just stop at the most recent posts. Really get a feel for the blogger’s interests and their writing style and what they like to write about. Also, follow the bloggers on social media. Like I said, I follow a lot of the bloggers on Twitter and that’s a really great way to gauge what they’re interested in.

See what the bloggers like to talk about and get a feel for who they are and also who their followers are, to see if they’re part of your target audience. Research bloggers like you would a client before a pitch. Finding bloggers is really like searching for good friends for a brand or client. Interests or beliefs of the bloggers should be aligned with your client. Spend some time getting to know the bloggers. It shouldn’t be like going on a blind date. Part of that might be looking over About Me pages and looking at some of the bloggers’ media kits.

If clients are really going to be all about the metrics, you might also take some time to look at the bloggers’ media kits or ask them for some statistics or metrics for their site. You might look at the number of page views per month a blogger gets or the number of unique visitors, the readers’ demographics or the subscribers.

Also, be sure to check out what other brands and organizations the blogger has worked with in the past. If they’re kind of similar to what your client represents, then chances are that the blogger is interested in that.

Looking back on some past posts that might have been sponsored by those brands will give you a good feeling for how the blogger works with different brands and how they might cover your client.

Let’s go over a few tips for connecting with bloggers. Like I said before, engaging with a blogger should never be like going on a blind date. I can’t tell you how many bloggers have told me horror stories of PR people emailing them about sharing things that aren’t even remotely connected to their blog. For instance, a healthy food blogger probably doesn’t want to write about how amazing sugar-filled snack cakes are.

Part of this might be looking back to relevant posts on the blogger’s site. If you’re asking a blogger to come up with a recipe using eggs, for example. Link back to past recipes on their site, to show that you know they would be a good fit for the project. Also, respect bloggers just as you would reporters or clients. Bloggers are partners. Spend some time drafting emails to them and don’t act as if they work for you. The relationship really will be mutually beneficial between you, the client and the blogger. Be considerate of bloggers’ time. A lot of time goes into developing a great blog post. If you’ve ever blogged, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Give bloggers ample time to create posts.

Another pet peeve I hear often is brands asking bloggers for a post within just days – not at all considering their heavy workload. Make sure that that lead time allows them to create creative and thoughtful posts. The longer that you give them, the more time they have to put together a really high-quality post.

Many bloggers these days blog for a living and they deserve to be fully compensated. Work with them to decide on compensation levels. Many bloggers are really willing to work with you on what that number is, but it’s not fair to ask or expect that they’ll work for free. Also, everybody likes to get paid on time.

Offer plenty of information and resources to the blogger so they can develop really great posts. Offer clear directions on what you’d like the bloggers to share and how they like to structure their posts. Provide them with facts, pre-written social media posts, photos and graphics and links to include, so they know to do so.

Maybe also give them any hashtags that are relevant, too. You might consider drafting contracts, so that bloggers know what is expected of them and vice versa. Lastly, always say thanks. Being appreciative really does go a long way.

Now let’s talk about building lasting relationships with bloggers. When you find good bloggers to work with, seek out opportunities for them, whether it’s for the same client or for others. They’ll really appreciate your help and want to keep working with you. Like I said before, let bloggers know when they’ve done great work and how much it means to you and to the client. This might mean sharing some client’s praise and maybe some results from the campaigns that the bloggers have worked on, if that’s appropriate.

Build personal relationships with bloggers. Like I said, I tweet frequently with many of the food bloggers that I work with, because I really do enjoy their posts. I like keeping in touch and seeing what they’re working on. Like with reports, budding relationships can come in handy and it’s a lot of fun. I can count on bloggers to do great work and they come to me for opportunities. Also, offering competitive compensation goes a long way. Bloggers are business people and the more that you can offer them, the more likely they are to want to work with you.

If possible, try to meet the bloggers in person. I love catching up with the food bloggers I work with at conferences and events. I’ve actually become very good friends with many of them. Even as amazing as digital is, there’s nothing like meeting and networking face to face. Remember that bloggers are people, too. Many are writing about topics that they care about and are very passionate about. They have families, jobs and commitments outside of blogging. Respect them and they’ll definitely respect you.

I’d love to keep this conversation going, so please do follow me on Twitter at: @hanab08, connect on LinkedIn or send me an email. I’m so thankful to be part of this great event today and thank you for tuning in. With that, I’m over and out.