We recently had a really interesting meeting with a client. We’d arranged for some bloggers, both local to Exeter and from out of the area, to visit their new glamping site as part of the launch publicity. When we said we’d like some bloggers to come along, have a free stay and review their site, she said, ‘bloggers, more like blaggers…’.
This led us to think, do people understand the true value of bloggers and how they can help you to build your business?
Over recent years the face of traditional PR has changed and now there’s a genre of bloggers, or influencers, with loyal online followings who listen to what they have to say about a particular service, product or event. Think of it as personal recommendations, but, in some cases, to the masses.
We still use our contacts and work to get coverage in the traditional media, whether that’s a feature in a regional glossy magazine or a radio interview. But we also embrace the brave new world of bloggers and influencers.
There’s a general myth that anyone can become a blogger, that all you need is a laptop, the ability to write and some decent ideas. You then need to build a following - a tribe of people who you influence – and now you start to have something of value, but all of these take skill and time and the number of influencers who are very successful is few.
As more and more of us consume our information through digital media, whether that’s following a particular person on Facebook or subscribing to some really useful blogs and newsletters, there’s a demographic out there who no longer picks up a newspaper or magazine. And crucially, depending on who you want to sell to, these are the people you need to reach.
Locally we use a handful of bloggers, and we choose them for their professionalism, reliability and their ‘sphere of influence’. We know we can rely on them, we know their followers are real and people are genuinely interested in what they have to say.
So, if you’re thinking of using the blogosphere as part of your marketing activity, what are the criteria for choosing your influencer? Here are our top tips:
Don’t just rely on the numbers. It’s easy to buy followers to your social platforms. Look closely at who is following your chosen blogger – these are the people who your story will be told to. Do they look genuine? Do they look like the type of person you want to reach? An influencer with an audience tailored to your demographic can bring much more value than one with hundreds of ‘bought’ followers.
How will your influencer deliver? Are they just in it for a free holiday? Ask your blogger to agree to a certain number of posts about the visit. Ask them to give you analytics so they can you show you how many people you have reached.
Remember this is a job for these guys. OK, it may look like they’re having a right old knees up, eating out at the best restaurants and staying at top-notch glamping sites. But this is how they earn their money and pay their mortgage… and the last time I checked, you couldn’t pay your mortgage with a meal for two or a family stay in a caravan.
Build relationships, give back, when your blogger says would you consider advertising on my site, say yes.
Take a look at Exploring Exeter or Tin Box Traveller to see examples of two people doing this really well, find a blogger working in your sector and make sure their audience is who you want to reach - here’s a couple of lists to help you on your way: