According to a Nielson survey from just over a year ago, 83% of all online consumers polled from 60 countries say they trust recommendations from their peers over those made by brands themselves. This presents a challenge for brands who have or plan to rely mostly on costly paid advertising methods to spread the word about their brands.
This reality is doubly true for established offline brands seeking to improve their web presence. However, it’s really only a problem for those who aren’t willing to pivot and find other, more niched-down branding sources. Namely, the most influential of online peers: ie., Bloggers.
Here’s a few tips you can start using right away to start touching base with influential bloggers, and intrigue them to start helping you brand your company and its products:
Find ‘influencers’ (bloggers) that can contribute to your online branding success
There are a hundred-and-one methods for finding the bloggers who can help you and the topic. You can choose to do that in DIY style or by hiring an experienced Digital Marketing Specialist.
However, the article you’re reading right now is all about helping you convince them once they’re identified. Monitoring social media channels and hashtags about your industry, and also setting Google Alerts to tell you about distributed content that relates closely to your brand and following will always be at the top of the list.
Build a relationship first
Internet marketing forums, Reddit, social channels and groups, and several niche-specific meeting places online are a great way to meet up with influential bloggers in your industry. Offer insightful comments on their posts, agree or disagree with their opinions (in an intelligent and respectful way). Find and grind!
Heck, take them out for a nice meal if they’re local or semi-local to you. Or, send them a gift certificate for a night out for two at Red Lobster, an upcoming movie, a day out at a local amusement park or museum, or the like. Get those wheels in motion before inundating influential bloggers with requests for them to blog about your brand.
Offer free stuff to them and their users
If you’ve already buttered them up with a meal or gift certificate, now it’s time to lay it on with some free products or giveaway contests sponsored by your company. The sky’s the limit when it comes to deploying this tactic, but keep in mind that free stuff will always grease the wheels better than giving out discount codes or rebates. This also works well with bloggers and social stand-alones who have a large, targeted social media following – check out this example of a pin-it to win-in contest.
Combine this strategy into a two-pronged approach by offering free content to them, without stressing the need for a backlink. Good bloggers will often give you a no-follow link in exchange for good content that gets their users sharing and talking anyway. However, making it an expectation when you give them something defeats the purpose, which is to get exposure on their blog for your brand.
Pay the influential bloggers you find to post honest reviews and comments about your brand and/or products. There’s literally nothing that works as a better motivator to the majority of bloggers than cold, hard cash. While other brands are pining away begging for free guest spots, you can get featured on the best blogs virtually overnight by sweetening the pie this way. Ana Maria De La Cruz, the owner of 4contentmedia, explains that such blogging outreach, along with content marketing, is THE marketing of 2017 and beyond.
While gifting items should not come with the expectation of a link in return for a review; a sponsored post most certainly should, as they’ll want to identify your brand to their readers (ie., It’s important they follow FTC regulations and add a header/footer to the post indicating it was sponsored by you, along with a link where viewers can find out more about you).
Be useful to them
“What’s in it for me?” The question on the mind of any brand influencer with a blog following worth tapping in to. Unless you’re paying out the nose for sponsored posts or sending them really cool and unique swag all the time, the relationship is going to dry up pretty fast if you can’t offer anything to them in return.
Make yourself and/or your team accessible to the network of bloggers you build. Help them by promoting their posts and brand on your company blogs and social networks. Offer to help them when needed if there’s a particular problem you can help them solve, or introduction you can make happen that will benefit them. Send them referrals when possible, and put them in touch with services that can help make their life easier. What goes around, comes around!
Have you ever, or will you be working with bloggers to help your branding efforts this year?
If so share your experiences and/or thoughts in the comments.