For a small business, long-term success depends on your credibility. Specifically, it’s about who and what you surround yourself with.
In the age of digital marketing and social media, one thing that small businesses do to become successful is align themselves with influential bloggers and members of the media. You can, too.
WHY to build blogger relationships
At a time when digital marketing tends to produce higher returns than many traditional offline marketing strategies, it makes sense to pursue every opportunity on the Internet. Chief among these opportunities is to develop relationships with influential bloggers.
There are a handful of reasons to do this, and your reason may differ from others, depending on your situation. You might value one blogger for his potential to put your brand in front of hundreds of thousands of readers, while another offers value through her ability to provide honest product reviews and feedback.
It’s a matter of perspective. Based on your needs, you’ll build relationships with the bloggers you believe serve the best interests of your business.
HOW to build AND maintain blogger relationships
People are peculiar. You can’t fit everyone into a neat, precise mold. You probably know that from first-hand experience in your personal life. So if you approach bloggers with the following tips in mind, you’ll garner positive results more frequently than if you were to take a shotgun approach.
- Observe your followers/customers. What type of content are they sharing? Where does it come from? Do they hold certain blogs in high esteem? It’s not hard to get this information, as long as you know who your most influential followers are. Once you develop a list of blogs your customers seem to enjoy, you can begin reaching out to those bloggers. This is much better than simply performing a Google search and contacting the top five or ten results.
- Make sure there’s something in it for them. When you make contact with a blogger, the best thing you can do is offer something in return. This shows you’re looking for a mutually beneficial relationship and not trying to be a leech. What you offer largely depends on the type of business you specialize in. Don’t make it sound like a bribe when you offer something, though. Carefully craft an email that shows you’re genuinely interested in helping the person, while requesting a favor.
- Develop good content. What many bloggers want is simply good content. So that’s typically what you’ll want to offer them — particularly since it allows you to get a byline and a couple of branded backlinks. By developing good content ahead of time (as opposed to just a pitch) you can give the blogger a taste of your writing ability and streamline the process. (As a side note, before writing something to peddle, you should thoroughly research the target blog to find out what kind of content the owner likes to publish and what resonates with the audience).
- Become a regular member of their community. Sometimes the best strategy is to hold off before contacting the blogger directly. After identifying blogs that you believe hold value with your audience, start getting involved in them and establishing yourself as a member of the community. Provide feedback, share posts, respond with comments and ask questions. Bloggers notice these things and will be much more willing to reciprocate a request if you show interest and consistency over time.
- Build an offline relationship. Just because bloggers work online, that doesn’t mean you’re restricted to communicating with them via the Internet. If you’ve done your research and identified bloggers in your local region, you may be able to set up personal networking meetings. Bloggers are often just as interested in building relationships as you are, and in-person meetings are exponentially more powerful than emails. Most bloggers get dozens of emails and requests per day, but few regularly get to meet with people over lunch or coffee. If you can secure one of these meetings, you’ll be that much more memorable and identifiable.
- Don’t cross the line. Never resort to spamming a blogger. If you’ve sent more than two emails or requests without receiving a response, it’s probably best to pursue another opportunity. Most important, treat everyone with respect . . . even when you get denied.
Patience breeds results
Healthy relationships with bloggers aren’t built overnight. They take time and patience. If you want to build long-term relationships with relevant bloggers, don’t expect to strike it big after one contact.
Utilize the tips described above and practice patience. Generally speaking, the hard work you put into the front end will pay dividends on the back. Not every blogger you target will end up cooperating with you, but all you need are a few good connections to make the effort worthwhile.
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, iMediaConnection.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. When she isn’t writing, she’s outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.