The blogosphere evolves rapidly. There are articles about blogger outreach campaigns that have become outdated within a year. Many of the recommended tactics and tools are no longer relevant.
Jade Craven, our Village Blogess, is tapped into a vast array of social media communities and there is something she wants you to know about most posts on outreach: The industry has changed.
I’ve blogged about topics as the result of an outreach campaign, and have also worked with businesses to generate conversation in relevant blog communities. In this post, I’ll draw on my extensive experience to help you learn how to engage with bloggers in 2012.
A few facts to bear in mind when reaching out to bloggers:
- Treat bloggers with the same level of professionalism that you would show a journalist. We work hard, have editorial schedules and deal with a lot of pitches.
- Our main priority is to our readers. When planning, focus on how you can help my audience as well as help me.
- Some bloggers will mock companies and PR professionals who mess up with blogger outreach. It’s important that you be polite and not aggressive. A lot of us won’t talk about this publicly; we’ll just share the bad and rude pitches with our friends.
Warnings aside, it is actually rather easy to have an effective campaign. The key is to have respect for both our blogs and our readers.
The FREPT model of blogging engagement
This model is the best I’ve seen, but is missing two vital steps:
- Planning your targets and criteria. You can read more about that via Monica O’Briens guest post on ᔥ running a successful blogger outreach
- Activities that you should be doing post campaign. I’ll be talking about this in Part II of this post series.
This step involves getting an overview of the bloggers in the niche.
Most people will recommend using tools to find bloggers. A lot of these tools can become irrelevant in a short period of time. No-one in my peer group bothers to claim their blog on Technorati anymore.
The best tool I have seen to provide an overview of a niche is Alltop. These pages are starting points within various niches and have been described as the online magazine rack of the web. “We’ve subscribed to thousands of sources to provide “aggregation without aggravation.”
Alltop provides an overview that can help you figure out who the authorities are in a particular niche. I wouldn’t focus on getting the attention of the blog owner. They are often busy or removed from the day to day operating on the site. Instead, I’d focus on contacting either the site editor or the person that is filtering the communication via the contact form.
I’ve found that it’s easier to contact, and work with, blogs that the biggest site in their niche. I’m not the only one. ᔥ Brian Solis recommends that you “focus on the Magic Middle, bloggers with 20-1,000 blogs that link back to them”.
You can, however, use these authority sites as a means to find up and coming bloggers that may be interested in writing about you. There are a number of patterns to look out for:
- People featured on list posts. I’d be cautious if targeting everyone from the same post, as people do talk and it can be interpreted as lazy marketing.
- Those who frequently guest post for the bigger blogs. ↬ My little blog is tiny, but I frequently write about cool stuff on blogs with over 100,000 readers.
- People that interact regularly with your brands social media profiles, such as Facebook and Twitter.
The next step is ascertaining whether the bloggers are a right fit for your brand.
Once you have the list of bloggers, you should narrow it down to ones that are a fit for your audience.
There are certain types of bloggers who are more inclined to write about you.
- The curators. They need interesting stories and thrive on exclusives.
- A community manager.
- A prolific guest poster.
The problem I’ve found with a lot of tools is that people focus on the wrong numbers.
Colin Alsheimer, of ᔥ Level Ten Design, said that hyperfocusing on representations of digital influence (such as Klout) neglects hidden influencers. This means we miss out “on reaching those Connectors who could help to improve the overall effectiveness of our marketing campaigns.”
I’m the type of blogger who is traditionally ignored by such tools, as are many of my peers. I’ve hunted to find the best tools to ascertain community engagement.
The key is focusing on the right numbers
Authority blogger Chris Brogan says that you should ᔥ never look at anyone’s numbers first. He recommends that you “decide whether the community responds and interacts (some ways to do this are comments per post, overall traffic vs comments as %), and then determine if you’ve got an influencer.”
My favourite tool is postrank. Their “social engagement data measures actual user activity, the most accurate indicator of the relevance and influence of a site, story, or author”.
I recommend using the Postrank Google Reader extension to do this. You add all the RSS feeds from the blogs you previously identified and go check out the latest RSS feeds from each individual blog. You can then use the extension to score, filter and track performance of the relevant feeds.
Use this tool to eliminate the blogs with little engagement.
A note on Klout
A lot of people believe that your klout number reveals less about your true influence and more about how much you know about boosting your score. I prefer the ᔥ TweetLevel and BlogLevel tools by Edelman, but they are limited to the individual platforms.
Your research should go beyond tools
There are so many factors you need to consider before deciding if a blogger is worth contacting
- Are they credible?
- Do they accept pitches for content?
- Is the blog still active?
You can also get a feel about their site and whether it’s a fit for your brand.
Part II of this post series will look at Engage and Pitch, along with the wrap up with Track and After The Campaign. To stay connected, follow our feed, sign up for email newsletters, follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.