Come on, don’t you think the thankless job of blogging passionately about a topic for free, persistently, over months and years deserves at least some face time and maybe a coffee, a burger, a bourbon?
If you have enough budget to do PPC campaigns, spend money on inbound links, or are willing to pay bloggers for their reviews, then you have enough budget to take the bloggers and social media influencers out for a drink. Think about it: these are the people you dream of sharing your content, announcing your news, talking about your brand and reviewing your products. Isn’t it worthwhile to reach out to your ideal bloggers and influencers individually when you find yourself in their town, and take them out?
Breakfast, coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner, nightcap — you decide what’s appropriate.
They may well say no, but they may say yes. And, it’s so very rare that anyone who pitches bloggers and expects them (us) to do stuff for free ever asks bloggers (us) out to do stuff IRL (in real life). Yes, of course you should start with your hometown or city. And it could be coffee or lunch or even dinner. But pick up the tab. And tweet it. And get an selfie together (an ussie).
Don’t have the budget? Well, put time aside to do the same exact thing virtually. Comment on their blogs in meaningful ways. Share their posts on your personal social media profiles. But don’t stop there. Like their Pages, follow their Board, subscribe to their YouTube. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Follow them on Twitter. The whole 9 yards. Build it into your calendar because you should be doing this for ten, twenty, fifty, one-hundred influencers. And not just on wedding, anniversaries, and birthdays. But you also must remember that most bloggers have very rich lives outside of their blogging life. You should add each one of them to your Salesforce, to your personal contact. Bring them closer than a single row in an Excel Spreadsheet.
Clotilde Dusoulier’s Got a Posse
My girlfriend is a huge foodie and consumer of food blogs. Last week, while on business in France, she hired Clotilde Dusoulier to guide her and a friend through Paris gastronomie. Mademoiselle Dusoulier is cookbook author and sole proprietor of the very famous foodie blog, Chocolate & Zucchini. They spent the day together and my girlfriend and her friend were not only personally led through the best cafes, restaurants, and bakeries, but Clotilde gave classes in what made baguettes baguettes francaises and and what made chocolate croissants croissants de chocolate.
Both bloggers and online influencers have real relationships with their readers and fans. Bloggers and their readers know each other. When you reach out to a blogger and tell her “I love your blog,” even if you have the benefit of seeing her historical posts from influencer management tools like GroupHigh, InkyBee, and Audienti, your earned media PR pitch could very well land on deaf ears because she doesn’t know you. When I was a boy in Catholic school on the slopes of Kalaepohaku at Saint Louis School, I was told that when you die and reach the pearly gates the and ask for entry, only those who are known by the Lord are admitted. Same thing with influencer marketing.
Do You Have a Posse of Online Influencers?
If you want someone to do you a favor, do something for free, or do you a solid, you need to be in a trusting relationship with them already. That relationship could be in the form of already being their legitimate fan — and not a double secret fan but a supportive, commenting, resharing, retweeting, Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM friend who repins stuff on Pinterest.
The relationship could be in the form of being an online influencer yourself, being a fellow blogger, or having the sort of Google juice, influence, number of followers and friends, that would turn you from being just a shill asking for favors for free into being a fellow blogger, fellow influencer, and maybe someone that influencer has already heard of, in passing, before. That’s who I am. And, even though it’s really totally unfair, that relationship could be based on the fact that you happen to do blogger outreach for something seriously cool.
Dan Krueger’s Got a Posse
My buddy and colleague Dan Krueger is that guy. He’s both a totally jacked Greek god of CrossFit trainer and athlete and he’s also Spartan Race’s influencer marketing guy. He’s also a blogger and is very active on Facebook and social media. He’s the trifecta of influencer outreach and engagement. What’s more, he’s engaged in it long-term on behalf of Spartan and has as many tickets to free races as he can hand out to his thousands of devoted influencers.
That’s the ideal.
You Should Be Passionate About What You Pitch
And if you’re doing blogger outreach to athletes and you’re an unfit shut-in, you may be the wrong person; and, if you’re doing influencer outreach for Ducati but think motorcycles are donor-cycles and you drive a Volvo for safety, you may well be the wrong person for the gig; and, if you’re not passionate enough on your own to actually be an influencer in your sphere of influence yourself, you may very well be the wrong person for the gig.
It Won’t Happen Right Away
Most people who start a blogger outreach or influencer marketing campaign give up right away. They wuss out because they’re generally not expecting the sort of hazing associated with reaching to someone you’ve never met before and getting either dissed, harangued, or handed a pay-per-post price card. Influence outreach is sort of like converting to Judaism: rabbis would discourage potential Jews-by-choice, turning them away three times to test how serious they were.
Show your bloggers and online influencers how serious you are! It won’t happen right away but even I, when doing my outreach into communities that are not my native land, need to reach out three times total in order to get each influencer’s attention enough that they actually consider my pitch. It takes time and it might be embarrassing. People who have done sales are really good at this; do, too, are poets and novelists because anyone who has become used to heartbreaking rejection is just the kind of person who is made for the job of influencer marketing.
I do blogger outreach for companies, brands, startups, and nonprofits so I am not always reaching out to bloggers and online influencers who know me at all. And, to add to that, most of my campaigns are to thousands of bloggers and online influencers at a time. It can be awkward. But it can be done.
For me, it comes down to how I treat people (with respect) how I talk to people (I don’t BS them or pretend I am something I am not), the gift I give (it had really better be generous), the clients I choose to work with (crappy brands with crappy products and dodgy services have burnt me before — who would blog about something not awesome for free?), and I rely heavily on the fact that I am a fellow blogger, that I have been blogging since 1999, that I have a Klout of 79, 50.8k followers on Twitter, and all that stuff (and if you search me for a second, you’ll see that it’s all true).
Good luck and go git ’em, Tiger!