Like most of us I suspect I get approached a lot these days by agencies or people wanting me to write about a brand new product or service as part of a blogger outreach programme. The variety of approach you get never fails to surprise to me, and I'm pretty choosy. But I'm also curious. I figure that one of the best ways of understanding what constitutes good practice in this relatively new type of activity is to be on the receiving end of it.
Marketing in this way is a minefield. You're dealing with people's egos. It's new territory, defined by a new set of rules and needing different skills – you might call it egonomics. Egonomics is about the application of some very social and very human attributes. You need people with good judgement and common sense to do it. The things that constitute good practice seem so obvious but given how many get it wrong, perhaps its not. So, for the record, here are my top 10 tips for good blogger engagement:-
- It helps if you're a blogger yourself (in fact some might say it's a pre-requisite to understanding how to approach bloggers)
- Show that you read my blog (it helps if you've read it for a while or been part of the conversation on it)
- Be authentic. People see straight though it if you're not.
- Be straight. Don't fart about, come out and say what you're after.
- Add value. Think about what's in it for me.
- Show me that you're using the feedback you're getting to change what you do
- Understand that the reason I might take part is for reasons of interest, relevance, curiousity, and learning rather than financial gain. My hunch is that any blogger who is worth being part of your programme would feel the same.
- Make it clear that I'm under no obligations (I know I'm not but you should say it anyway, and keep saying it)
- If you've found this post at some point in the future and are referencing it in your approach – well done – you've been thoughtful enough to use that little search box up there on the right to see if I had written anything on the subject already
- If you haven't read this post, oh dear.
Here's an example of what I mean. I was approached a while back about trialing the new O2 XDA Orbit phone. The guys at VCCP get it (evidenced by Amelia's 5 tips for blogger outreach). The approach had all the right stuff in it – right tone, right language, said all the right things. The communication regular (but not too regular), respectful and helpful. The blog features all reviews, good and bad. The whole experience was…well, very human. Oh and the phone? Well if you want to read a review of it there's better ones than I could do here, here and here. Suffice to say I'm still using it in preference to my (slightly older) Nokia. So yes, it's a bit fiddly, but I like it.