By: Hana Bieliauskas
One of my favorite parts of my job is working with fantastic bloggers from across the country. I credit many of my food blogging friends for, slowly but surely, inspiring me to move out of my comfort zone in the kitchen and get more creative with food. Just this morning, I made a peanut butter variation of this Banana Chai Smoothie from my pal Ali at Gimme Some Oven.
Over the past six years, I’ve witnessed blogging dramatically change and evolve from being more of a hobby for many bloggers to becoming a full-time business. Blogger engagement is now a key part of a digital strategy. In my opinion, for many organizations, it is one of the most effective tactics to reach key audiences in an authentic, creative, memorable way.
Today, blogs are one of the most trusted sources of information for women. According to BlogHer, 81 percent of women representing the general U.S. population said they trusted blogs. Engaging with bloggers to share information has been immensely effective for my clients, and especially for food brands, restaurants and agriculture organizations. Food bloggers are a trusted, influential resource who have an increasingly larger impact on what foods parents choose to buy and serve their families.
Bloggers are also the ultimate online influencers. They have large and engaged social media followings, including thousands of followers across platforms with whom they frequently interact. Bloggers use social media to share content and build their brand, making most bloggers also social media experts. Tapping into bloggers’ social networks and expertise is another huge benefit of partnering with them.
Building long-term partnerships with top food bloggers is very beneficial. When bloggers get to know a brand or organization and believe in what it stands for, they can become strong ambassadors and have a huge hand in encouraging others to lend their support, too.
Developing strong partnerships with bloggers requires time and work, just like any relationship. Here are five tips to keep in mind when reaching out to bloggers:
1. Read more than one post. When searching for bloggers to approach, devote time to just reading blogs, from recent posts to those written months, or even years, ago. Get to know who the blogger is, including his or her interests and personality. Look for someone who will want to work with you and who seems as if they’d be interested in your product, mission or cause.
2. No news releases allowed. When pitching a blogger, you’re not sending a news release, so cut the promotional language, confusing jargon and big formal words. Blogging is social and meant to be more informal. Bloggers will likely be much apt to respond if you don’t talk to them in “PR speak” but are friendly and approach them as an interested reader, not “just another PR person.”
3. Make it personal. When you first meet someone, one of the best ways to spark conversation and get to know them is by finding common interests or connections. The same goes for bloggers. Compare an experience you had to one she writes about in her blog. Want to work with your favorite food blogger? Talk about that one time you tried a recipe featured on the blog (hint: link to it) and how it turned out.
4. Get social. Don’t call it a day after just reading a few blog posts. Check out what bloggers are tweeting, pinning on Pinterest, sharing on Instagram and posting on Facebook. Tip: One of the most effective ways to find new bloggers to follow is to see who’s tweeting with whom on Twitter or commenting on Instagram (bloggers like to connect and chat with each other!). When determining whether to approach a blogger, consider his or her influence on other social networks—are the blogger’s social media connections also part of your target audience?
5. Give back. When reaching out to bloggers, it’s likely you’re doing so with some type of “ask.” Whether you’re asking a blogger to review a product, attend an event or run a giveaway, make it worth their while. Offer adequate compensation. Ask bloggers their rates, listen to what they say, and build those rates into budgets. Blogging is a business for many bloggers, so plan accordingly. Pay for travel costs. Offer free admission into an event or provide a coupon. Get creative in how to show bloggers you appreciate what they are doing!
6. Bloggers are people, too. Many bloggers blog full-time, and others have day jobs and just blog on the side. Those mom and food bloggers are busy ladies—they are hardly like Desperate Housewives who simply sit around blogging because they have nothing better to do. So, although bloggers may be helping you forward your product or cause, be considerate of their time, be patient and remember to say “thank you.” Asking anyone how their day is going never hurts, either.
Who are your favorite bloggers?