Why I Shifted My Business to Focus on Blogger Relations

Bloggers

For better or worse, I’m known in Charlotte as a social media marketing guy. My role as president of Social Media Charlotte is one reason for that. The topics I blog about also contribute to the perception. And I’ve been fortunate to leverage that perception into a growing business.

But lately I’ve been shifting focus.

Blogger outreach and blogger relations are where I’m focusing most of my energy. I’ll continue to advise and create content for social media clients, but I’ll devote most of my energy to blogger and influencer relations. Why? Several reasons:

Wide Open Spaces

Few agencies or brands in Charlotte seem to be leveraging blogger relations. Terrie Lee is doing a nice job for Lyerly Agency. Kathy Rowan and I have teamed up on a few projects. Logan Stewart is ramping up blogger relations at Discovery Place.

There may be others…but not many.

Brands need help connecting with bloggers. There’s no doubt it’s a powerful marketing tactic. Market need + first mover advantage = big opportunity.

Blogger Outreach = New Customers

Facebook and Twitter are good for reaching current customers. By all means, don’t stop urging current customers to buy more. But what happens when these customers are maxed out?

Bloggers can introduce you to new audiences. Thanks to the trust they’ve built trust with readers, they can influence the buying decision, too. Earn the respect of a blogger and you’ve got a powerful ally. I want to help clients connect with bloggers and grow their market share.

Managing Social Media Accounts is Impractical

The 24/7 attention Facebook and Twitter require is time- and labor-intensive. These channels require round-the-clock accessibility, promptness, and attentiveness.  The value of timing is artificially inflated.

Now multiply that by 5, 10, 20 clients. It quickly becomes impractical.

Blogger relations, by comparison, let’s me build deep, two-way relationships with a manageable number of bloggers. Relationships here can develop over time, more naturally. I can meet the needs of a few bloggers effectively, rather than giving hundreds of Twitter users only the sliver of attention I can afford.

The Wizard of Oz Had Limited Influence

As a PR professional, I get to reach out to bloggers as myself. No more man behind the curtain. I’m more valuable when I introduce myself on your behalf than when I engage anonymously, behind a logo. Rather than “staying in character,” I can openly serve you…and put my network and relationship-building skills on the table.

Also, the more open I can be, the more effectively I can offer these resources to bloggers, too. And helping them ultimately helps you.

Too Much Noise on Social Networks

Too many companies hire consultants to manage their Facebook and Twitter presence, but short change content. How often can you Tweet about your drink specials?

A well-written review from a blog, on the other hand? With a photo? And links to your website? Pure content gold. It stands out in a sea of 140-character noise.

Better Results Than Social Networks

Recent research from PageLever reveals only 3% – 7.5% of fans see your Facebook Page posts. Let that sink in for a minute…

Now, if only 7.5% of fans see your Facebook status update, how many click on it? Or come in for today’s dinner special? Or make a purchase?

I’m not saying Facebook is worthless. Or Twitter. There’s no doubt owned media is a critical part of your marketing mix. But by shifting my focus to your earned media efforts, I’ll be able to move the needle more significantly in key areas: Brand awareness, likelihood to buy, new customer acquisition, market share, search ranking and reach.

I Dig Bloggers Because I AM a Blogger

Before I was “a social media guy,” I was a blogger. I love to write. I get bloggers. I love them for their passion, their devotion, and the ways they contribute to the world.

I’m a business owner for one reason: To make just enough scratch to enjoy my life. Redefining my business to spend more time working with people I enjoy? Every man should be so lucky.

  • http://www.all-about-content.com/about Melanie Phung

    Great post, Scott!

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  • http://www.peanutbutterrunner.com/ Jen

    Great post, Scott and it’s exciting to hear that you’ve shifted to focus on blogger relations/outreach.

    As a blogger, I have to say that I am enthusiastic about partnering with brands that I believe in. At first I was hesitant that my readers would resist hearing information about products/services that I love but I’ve found that it is quite the opposite. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I bought/tried this after I saw it on your blog.”

    As an ad girl, it can be difficult sometimes to help clients understand the value in cultivating relationships and creating partnerships with bloggers. I feel like so many clients are so focused on the social space right now “must have twitter, must have facebook” and neglect to realize the impact that bloggers can have in helping to build their brands and social networks.

  • http://twitter.com/amandala Amanda Denton Manna

    Scott, I agree with you that blogger relations is critical because of the chance to build a deeper relationship, and that this is a great opportunity many brands are missing out on. For those who are taking the time to invest in proper blogger relations, the benefits are clear. Thanks for the post and perspective!

  • http://www.jimsharp.blogspot.com Jim

    Good post Scott. I’m a friend of Logan’s. She put my onto this via Facebook. My question though is what’s in it for the blogger? I know helping brands we love is a form of payment, but any suggestions on how to kiss the hand that types the praise? :)

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Big topic, Jim. I’ll hit

    Bloggers can earn revenue in a variety of ways: Sponsors/banner ads, Google AdSense (pay-per-click), sponsored content, consulting, selling a product, book deals, affiliate marketing. Almost all of those revenue models require an audience. More to the point, they require an attentive, engaged audience. Building an audience is a long-term task every blogger must conquer. Sharing informative, entertaining, or thoughtful content with readers is key to building and retaining an audience. By sharing products you endorse and that your readers might enjoy, you provide a value to your readers, which grows your audience, which in turn opens the door to revenue from some of the revenue models I listed above.Does giving ink to a brand/product help the brand? Yes. More than it helps you? Possibly. In many cases, yes. But it can help you. A good brand PR rep will ReTweet your post and help you attract new readers. Your readers will do the same if it’s a well-written post.I should also point out that not every blogger’s goal is to “monetize” their blog. Some blog for enjoyment, because they love to write, or to be part of a community. Some do it to expand their networks. Some are building a personal brand for career and job-seeking purposes. And some of those who are working to “monetize” their blog will forgo quid pro quo today with an eye toward opening doors to more meaningful and rewarding opportunities tomorrow.(Aside: There are obviously many pros and cons here, and what-ifs and what-abouts, too. It’d take more than a few paragraphs to discuss them all. I earn my leaving as a professional by advising clients on the nuances, best practices, opportunities and pitfalls. I help them build mutually beneficial relationships with bloggers, where both sides feel satisfied. It takes work, patience, diplomacy and creativity. I spend MOST of my time trying to understand bloggers and their needs, rather than shilling. It’s the best way to serve the brands I represent. Exploiting bloggers to get ink eventually does more harm than good for the client.)

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks for your perspective, Jen. Always nice when I catch your attention.

    I’ve always admired the way your blog treats brands you admire. Standing behind the products you share with readers and friends makes the mention so much more powerful. You write from the heart, and I love that, and it’s obvious your readers do, too. You’ve earned their trust, and you respect that trust.

    And you’re right: It’s awesome to hear “I bought/tried this after I read your blog.” I’m a blogger, too, in addition to a PR professional, and it always gives me a lift to know someone discovered something new as a result of following me…makes all this stuff we do worthwhile.

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Well put, Amanda!

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks, Melanie! Always good to see you popping up in my stream :)

  • http://www.jimsharp.blogspot.com Jim

    Thank you Scott. All very good points. Thanks for taking the time to hit on these.

  • http://www.mistywuori.com/ Misty Wuori

    Great post Scott! I absolutely agree with the the power & influence of blogger outreach. It’s an effective marketing tool than many do overlook. 

  • http://twitter.com/arikhanson arikhanson

    Smart move, Scott. I’ve done a decent amount of work here and I think the biggest advantage folks like you and I have is that last point you made. We get bloggers because we ARE bloggers. But, we’re also PR counselors, too. So, our clients get the best of both worlds. Curious to see how this shift impacts your work. Good luck!

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