How To Select A Blogger For Your Brand

I’ve been working online with communities for the past 6 and a half years, a time when message boards and Yahoo Groups (remember those?) were as social as it got. This was an era where blogs were the Wild Wild West and most folks weren’t too keen on the idea of companies talking to them. You had to be extremely selective as to which blogs might want to engage with your clients and which you’d want to align your client’s brand(s) with. Clearly the blogosphere has evolved since 2004 but while some things have changed, some have stayed exactly the same. Here are five tips for PR and ad n00bs and vets alike when selecting which blogs to work with.

Tip #1: Validate Their Traffic

One of the biggest questions I hear from clients is if traffic matters or not. It does, to an extent. Read on.

Web traffic for the sake of traffic is meaningless. This is why I don’t advocate always targeting a “top blogger” in any vertical. It makes zero sense to chase big numbers, just as shotgun marketing did — just ask our friend, the banner ad. It’s also pointless to peg the success of your campaign or outreach on numbers, as numbers per Alexa, Quantcast or even from the bloggers themselves can prove to be bullshit.

The best way to find out what a blogger offers your brand is to track their clicks. That’s right, make sure your pitch has a strong call to action and measure the actual traffic driven by the blogger. Shamable contributor Loren Feldman drives clicks. I know it because when he posts links to this site, re-tweets a post, etc. the traffic jumps and goes directly back to his Twitter account or blog. If you’re looking to track it a step further, consider using services like Meteor Solutions – they can also track the sharability of your site’s content.

Tip #2: Check Their Expertise

Another criteria I hold bloggers to are whether or not they’re actually knowledgeable in something or if they’re just giving anecdotal “expertise”. For example – I would never take medical advise from someone who’s not a nurse or doctor. Your audience deserves a professional, not someone with a lot of time on their hands. I know this isn’t shocking to those working in corporations, but promoting false product claims and off-label use of products by folks writing on your behalf is a liability. (Can you tell I’ve spent a few weeks of my life with Legal?)

Tip #3: Look At Their Reputation

This is a tough one to quantify but asking around should give you a few tips as to who’s great to work with and who’s a nightmare. And no, I don’t mean diva – it’s easy to get wrapped up in the fact that you have a few thousand readers and pull the “Don’t you know who I am?” card (see: George from Crocs). I mean someone who’s been known for stirring the pot or had a repeated history for doing, well, dumb stuff. One easy way to nix any blogger from a campaign is if they identify themselves and their friends as a “mafia”. Yes, stupidity happens often enough and no – some people never learn.

Tip #4: Content Quality

I hate to say it, but just because it’s easy to publish doesn’t mean everyone should. A quick perusal of blogs will show you what I’m talking about: the ability to string a coherent sentence or thought together is a rarity in the blogosphere. While some folks have a unique writing style and provide ridiculously entertaining content (like Brittany of Barefoot Foodie and Shauna Glenn), most don’t. In fact, you’ll find that those with a definitive style and depth to their writing actually – gasp – graduated college.

Tip #5: Brand Equity Alignment

You’ve worked hard to define what your brand stands for, whether it’s the brand’s identity, meaning, response or relationship. You should expect the same from your partners and blogger. Hooking up your brand with a lethal blogger can sabotage all of the great work you’ve done to build it – make sure you look into what it is the blogger’s offering, what they stand for and, going back to point #3, what their reputation is.

There you have it: 5 simple tips for selecting bloggers to work with. I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many amazing bloggers over the years that I’m happy to provide recommendations and leads. Simply contact me a dave at shamable dot com and I’ll hook you up!

PS: If you work at an advertising or PR firm please know that your turn is coming too. I’ll be publishing some helpful advice for brands to help them select firms to work with soon. :)

9 Comments. Leave new

@KimMoldofsky
June 2, 2010 2:10 pm

These are some good tips for brands who are first dipping their toes into the momspace. I cringe when folks ask how they can get Dooce to be a part of their campaign.I'd caution that blog traffic does not equal reach. It's important to look at the overall digital footprint. For example, does this blogger contribute to group blogs, which means greater visibility as well as connection to a larger blog community. Is she active on Twitter- again look beyond followers and see if she adds value to the larger through her tweet stream. Is she @replying or merely broadcasting? Does she have a presence of (take your pick) YouTube, Whrrl, FourSquare, Plurk, Facebook, etc.You may also look to see if this blogger has been able to attract mainstream media attention, whether from the local paper or New York Times. Look to see if she has offline/real-life influence, like heading up the PTA or a mom and tot group. Does she speak at conferences?As you note, numbers can be fuzzy, so it's important to look beyond them.

Reply

Great points, Kim. I would say that to an extent a lot of those means/tactics are reaching the same people, especially in the tech and Mom blogging communities. Most brands I work with want to know how they can expand their footprint vs. going really deep within a niche time and time again.

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Jen @ BigBinder
June 2, 2010 2:20 pm

Big fan of your first point – I can bring the horses to the water, but a compelling, click-able ad has to make them drink.

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A Whole Lot of Nothing
June 2, 2010 2:34 pm

Or you could also just pick bloggers who bring the Awesome to everything they touch. (see: me)

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Tip #6 Bloggers who will work for free swag, pretzels and RC Cola. I'm not saying there are bloggers who won't work for Pepsi or Coke products, but never underestimate the power of RC Cola. The classic RC Cola taste, loaded with sugar and what I can only assume is pure blood of a demon, will act as a mind control device for the blogger enabling you to feed them whatever trash you are selling. None of that makes sense. Because I'm drinking RC Cola. Did I mention it also contains at least 200mg of anthrax? It's good for you. Builds immunities. I have no real point.

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Kim beat me to be the first to invoke Dooce, albeit for a different reason. One of the reasons I've kept up with her blog for so long is because of the quality of each post. At times, I've wished she published more often, but if the result would be anything less than what she gives now, I'd rather wait for her best.When I first started blogging a few years ago, I tried to keep myself on a once-a-day minimum, which I ultimately gave up because I realized that just filling a quota doesn't do anyone any good. I had a professor in college who told me that he was giving me a B instead of an A for my class blog because “while the quality of each post is excellent, you're not posting enough.” I guess I'm glad I'm not the kind of person who always agrees with his professor, though that's not to say I'm not still blogging in obscurity (or, who am I kidding, I haven't touched my blog in ages…).

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Great article. Also look at the community involvement the blogger has — do they interact with their readers, or is it more of a broadcasting kind of thing? This can affect the kind of product/brand you're likely to be able to pitch with them. E.g. broadcasters are not necessarily going to be able to sell the products that they themselves use.

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Kelly Whalen
June 3, 2010 8:05 pm

When I work with clients I talk about overall audience fit and not numbers specifically, especially since many of our clients are small businesses they can want Dooce all they want, but they can't afford her. When I'm working as a blogger I try to show companies and PR people the whole picture. I'm not just a writer (though I think I do that pretty well despite the lack of degree ;) ). I have some media experience, a weekly show, use a variety of social media platforms, blah, blah, blah. Not everyone “gets” these points though-that's why I like working with people who do, because they tell me how I can do better, and support me as much as I support their brand.

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SOB Business Cafe 06-04-10 | Liz Strauss at Successful Blog
June 4, 2010 9:35 am

[…] How To Select A Blogger For Your Brand […]

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