How to Connect with Online Influencers – Dos & Don’ts
Connecting with bloggers and online influencers is a great way to gain visibility for your company. Their readers and followers tend to be super engaged, which means they may be more ready to buy. And, bloggers/online influencers generate content all the time, sometimes at a faster pace than a traditional news outlet.
These days in PR, there’s little distinction between a journalist and a blogger. They’re often equally influential, and we treat online influencers with the same respect and professionalism as we do a reporter at a major news outlet.
Because these influencers have built up so much clout, it’s not as easy as it used to be to get on their radar. So how do you get their attention? Follow these six dos and don’ts:
Do Conduct Research
Before you even think about reaching out, identify the blogger’s topic of expertise. Your product, service or pitch angle should be a good fit for it. If you’re a jewelry designer, you probably won’t have much luck with foodie blogs; but wedding bloggers might be right up your alley.
Online influencers also tend to be early adopters. So if you’ve got something new, offering them a sneak peek before it’s publicly available might be just the thing to get them to say yes to engaging with you.
Do Build up to the Pitch
Like journalists, bloggers and online influencers get hundreds of pitches from companies of all shapes and sizes, and they don’t have time to respond to every one.
Here’s a tip: Don’t pitch them anything at first. Instead, show consistent interest in what they have to say. How? Here are some quick ideas:
- Comment on one of their blog posts every now and then with something substantive. (“Great post!” is not a substantive comment.)
- Engage with them on social media – just don’t be creepy (see below).
- Share their content with your social networks.
Seems like a lot of time and effort? Sure, at first. But the returns could be huge. When you do pitch influencers with your awesome, relevant product or service, you have a much better chance of piquing their interest because your name will be familiar.
Do Explore Sponsored Content
Some bloggers are open to agreements where they’re compensated for posting sponsored content (like a sponsored post, contest or giveaway). A quick skim of their blog or site should reveal if they do this.
If you decide to go down the paid route, don’t demand that they remove any mention that it’s a paid-for agreement. These bloggers have spent years building a loyal audience that trusts what they have to say. Even if the compensation is just free product, most big-time bloggers will disclose that fact if they write about you.
Don’t Be Creepy
Offline social mores should be applied to online interactions, too. Big no-nos include posting comments that don’t add anything to the public conversation, emailing them all the time, making snarky remarks about their cat (unless you’ve actually met said cat), etc. When you engage with bloggers and online influencers, be polite and genuine, and use common sense.
That said, in social media people tend to share a lot about themselves, and it’s OK to bond on a more informal, personal level – as long as the context is appropriate and you’re doing other things to build that relationship.
A note of caution: People – bloggers and online influencers included – use different social media networks for different reasons. Respect their limits. A good rule of thumb: If they don’t often share blog- or work-related content on a particular social media platform or account, don’t reach out to them there.
Don’t Ask Them to Publish a Review Sight Unseen
Bloggers live by their reputation. So, if they’re going to publicly endorse something, they have to really love it, and usually your word alone isn’t enough. Get them to experience your product or service.
- If you have a physical product, send them samples in the mail along with a handwritten note.
- If you’re an online service, give them a free trial.
- If you have a local physical location, invite them to special events so they can check out your space.
Offer to give their readers a big discount on whatever you’re promoting. The more you can make them feel like they’re getting something exclusive out of talking about you, the greater your chances are of getting on their good side.
Also, influential bloggers make no guarantees that they’ll post a five-star review. Much like working with traditional press, if they end up posting something critical, there’s not much you can do about it unless it’s factually inaccurate.
You might think that prefacing your influencer outreach with “This has been written up in so-and-so” or “I know so-and-so and thought you and I should connect as well” might give you some cachet. It actually can do the opposite, especially in highly competitive industries such as technology.
Why? Influential bloggers want to be the first to know. Rattling off a list of competitors whom you’ve already talked to says to the blogger that he/she isn’t important enough to be at the top of your list. And, no one wants old news.
Have you had success getting on the radar of online influencers? Share your tips with the rest of us!
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