In March 2012, Neilsen reported and calculated more than 181 million blogs around the world.
Yes, 181 MILLION.
Everyone and their mom seems to have a blog these days. From parenting to family to travel and even button collecting – there is a place for everyone to get a piece of the pie. While the consumer sector of the blogosphere has latched on quickly to the trend, the B2B world has been slower to adopt these channels as strategic communications tools with real tangible benefits.
Since embracing social media and blogger relations in the past years, Dell has learned a thing or two about the importance of blogger relations. They have learned that people and their opinions come in all forms and every person finds their own and unique way to share a story. The savviest of companies are using this unique, word-of-mouth marketing strategy to help change company perceptions and tap into niche industries with relevant conversation. B2B brands should take note!
Bloggers are often the first to report on new industry trends, and once established, they rate very highly in terms of trust. So it is clear that if you’re launching a new B2B product or service, the importance of bloggers cannot and should not be ignored. Here are some tips for adding blogger relations to your B2B marketing mix.
When Making Lists, It’s Ok To Play Favorites
Remember when I mentioned there were 181 million blogs out there? If thinking about where to start compiling your blog lists makes your head spin, get in line behind me. To be effective with blogger outreach, you have to play favorites – kindergarten-style. This means that you have to find, narrow and target blogs that are the best fit for your company’s message and decide at which level you will communicate with those bloggers. Follow the blogger for several weeks to get a feel for their opinions, the topics they cover and how that fits in with your communications goals. RSS is a great way to streamline this process. Once you’ve narrowed down your favorites, it’s a good idea to tier your “best friends” for any priority messaging from your company because you already know they’re reliable and great fits to share your message.
It’s Always a Good Idea to Recycle Content
The social Web, for the most part, has a short memory. This doesn’t mean you should go digging in ancient archives for presentations to share, but it does mean that when pitching B2B bloggers, you can revisit topics that were previously well-received and update them for today’s business environment. It’s likely that new blogger contacts have never seen this information and may find it useful for their audiences. Try to:
- Turn old PowerPoint presentations into articles
- Use interview materials with journalists/media that never got published
- Break up long articles into series
- Re-write press releases into conversational blog posts
Pick the Brains of Your Thought Leaders
Doing interviews with industry thought leaders is a great way to create interesting content and tap into new audiences for exposure. Interview internal thought leaders, whether they are business leaders, product managers or engineers. Interviews with these busy people can be done via phone and then transcribed into text. This makes it easy for the interviewee and also provides both audio and text versions of content. Questions can be keyword optimized and responses can inter-link using anchor text to support your SEO efforts. Send this information to your bloggers as sharable content for their readers and audiences.
Learn What Content is Successful and Popular
Many blogs make this information easy to find by having sidebars highlighting most shared posts and posts with most comments. Look for trends and topics that resonate with the blog’s audience. It is also a great idea to read through the comments of popular posts (that fall within your area of interest) to gauge the tone of the conversation and the overall sentiment of the audience.
Understand what makes a good post and be ready to provide it. This will vary from blog to blog. Some blogs focus on highlighting news and technology while others are more issue focused and tackle industry debates head on. Determine what you need to provide to mirror the type of content the blog features. Would offering a demo of your technology with screen shots piqué the blogger’s interest? What about sharing your opinion on an industry debate via the comments section of the blog? Also consider providing the blogger with product giveaways or exclusive tours of your facility.
“No Comment” is Never the Answer
Whether B2B or B2C, the most important part of the term blogger relations is the“relations” portion. This means ongoing stewardship between both parties. If a blogger writes a great blog post about your company, return the favor by sharing the blog post on your company’s social profiles or electronic newsletter. Nothing makes a blogger want to continue their working relationship with your company much like feeling as though their work is valuable and appreciated. It’s a two-way street – treat it as such.
Additionally, commenting on a person’s blog consistently with insightful thoughts is the best way to begin or build up existing relationships with influencers. Every time you leave a comment on a blog it is displayed in the least crowded inbox that individual has, the comment dashboard. The majority of bloggers read every comment that comes through their blog dashboard.
There is No “One Size Fits All”
Truth is, there is no mold that fits all brands and companies when it comes to successful blogger relations. The key is to get in, get your hands dirty and find the types of messages and strategies that sync with your brand’s communications goals. Always be flexible and open to any ideas your blogger contacts may have as well. Though it takes time to get started, the fruits of the labor are totally worth it when done correctly.