[Executive Edge] Building business buzz in the blogosphere

Ezra Ferraz
Before it was enough for a business to be talked about, now we must also be blogged about

Before it was enough for a business to be talked about, now we must also be blogged about. Bloggers – and the influence they wield via their blogs and social media accounts – can truly make a difference in the way that your company is perceived.

In practical terms, the favor of bloggers can translate into money. It can also multiply the reach and influence of your own social media channels. In other words, bloggers can serve as amplifiers for both your sales and marketing.

So how do you build long-lasting relationships with them? I approached the bloggers and businesses of the recent Blogapalooza to find out. The event – organized by Vince Golangco, Francis Simisim, and Anton Diaz – sought to connect businesses with bloggers to formalize and facilitate the relationship between the two.

Here’s what those participants had to say, summed up into 9 main points:

1. Profile the platform of your bloggers

Before deciding to build a relationship with a blogger, you must first decide if they are the right fit for you and your brand. Alfie Sy, the marketing director of Enjoy Philippines suggests that you “check the Alexa Global and Philippine rankings to gauge the number of visitors to their blog.”

Mic Caldo, a senior writer at WhenInManila, agrees. In order for a business not to waste its time, efforts, and in some cases, money, they should consider the fact that “all blogs and bloggers are not created equal.” He thus advises that businesses carefully look at all elements of a blogger’s platform, including “its traffic, its reach, its audience, its influence, and its reputation.” This way, your resources are used efficiently.

2. Consider the brand of your bloggers

Though it’s much harder to quantify than the amount of a blogger’s reach, you should also carefully consider their brand. As bloggers – in a sense – can serve as extension of your marketing, you want to make sure they match the values of your company. For example, Trixie Tacardon, a marketing manager at The Mind Museum, said, “We are also very particular on the integrity of the blogger and what he or she stands for. We try to work with ‘wholesome’ bloggers, given the nature of our facility.”

On a broader level, you also don’t want food bloggers if your business is more oriented toward lifestyle. In these cases, the blogger may be enticed more by the freebies than by the need to promote a product or service to the right audience. To this end, Alfie Sy checks “whether the blog is a good fit to our brand,” as it “must be a lifestyle blog.”

3. Personalize your communication

At events like Blogapalooza, the bloggers willingly give you their contact information. In your eagerness to be promoted via blogs, some businesses may contact these bloggers en masse, such as via a boilerplate email blast. Zia Dadis, a writer at WhenInManila, cautions against this temptation.

No matter how you contact a blogger – whether via email, social media, text, and so on – she recommends that you personalize your communication as much as you realistically can. She said, “A personal message is always a great way to get someone’s attention.” Even better, in her view, is “showing up personally and calling them.” By doing so, you may get a more favorable response from potential bloggers.

4. Don’t be afraid to suggest angles and story ideas

Filipino businesses may hesitate to suggest ideas out of fear of being seen as pushy. Patti Veridiano, the PR consultant for TINO, advises not to buy into this. “Pitching story angles will be very helpful to both the businesses and the bloggers. It’s like selling your product to your market. Pitching the angle you find ideal for your market will help strengthen your product branding and imaging, and this will also open a window to gaining new clients.”

Michelle Natividad, the owner of N.Y. Theraspine, recommends to use simple language for any pitch or product demonstration. “As a New York health practitioner for the past 14 years, I’ve witnessed countless wellness presentations. It’s best to let clients experience the new techniques, explain in layman’s terms the process of each and every procedure, and show them the equipment to be used.”

5. Provide social media support

Bloggers like to write about brands that help promote their blogs over their social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Zia Dadis explains it as so: “Social media support really makes writing reviews more appealing to us bloggers. Mainly because we want our voice to be heard and having the enterprise back us up guarantees more readers, shares, and likes. This, in turn, really boosts our self-esteem as writers of the X-generation.”

Ruth dela Cruz, a writer at WhenInManila, also believes social media support is mutually beneficial and should be established as early as the first contact. “A tweet mention with intent to work with you is also awesome. At this early stage the brand is already promoting their product and at the same time introducing the blogger as someone who is a valuable social media influencer.”

6. Consider what’s hot in the blogosphere (or can be) when deciding on giveaways

The presence of so many influential bloggers likely meant that #Blogapalooza would trend on Twitter. Sure enough, it did in the Philippines. Viewpark Hotel anticipated the popularity of Blogapalooza and crafted their giveaway accordingly. Rather than just brand giveaway t-shirts with their name and logo, they also branded it with Blogapalooza, which, in the words of marketing assistant Thea Barcenas, made them a more appealing “souvenir of the event.”

GrabTaxi Philippines did similarly. Natasha Bautista, their marketing vice president, said, “There usually is a trend in interests of bloggers. Our team believes that bloggers are going crazy about Instax lately, and so we decided to make that our prize.” Sure enough, the GrabTaxi booth was one of the most popular with bloggers at Blogapalooza.

7. Do not confuse giveaways with experience

While it’s important to give visual merchandise branded with your company’s name and logo, these cannot replace the value of true experience. The best motivation for bloggers to write about a product or a service is to experience it first-hand.

In this vein, Ruth dela Cruz commended LazerXtreme for providing free tickets to play laser tag at one of their locations. In addition, she said, “Blogging is all about sharing your experience, and the best way to promote the brand is by letting bloggers experience your product or service. It would be hard to write about a product, say coffee or a beauty item, when you only got a free notebook, a pen, and some fliers.”

8. Reward bloggers for delivering

Again, giveaways are nice, but they’re even better when deployed strategically. In addition to the giveaways that you would give away at a promotional booth, you should also try to have more enticing giveaways available for bloggers who write about you. In other words, you can reward bloggers for their deliverables – blogs – which will make it more likely they’ll write about you.

The Mind Museum does just this. Trixie Tacardon said, “Since most bloggers have not been to The Mind Museum, we posed a question on what would be a mind-blowing encounter, exhibit, or gallery that they would want to see. The first twenty blog posts in response to this question would be rewarded with 3 all-day passes to The Mind Museum and our traveling exhibit, Da Vinci – The Genius.” Additionally, the limit of 20 passes also encourages bloggers to write their posts sooner rather than later to make sure they score one.

9. Maintain the relationship year-round

Janine Tarrayo, the marketing executive of Wheatgrass CAN International encourages entrepreneurs and business owners to continually maintain their relationship with bloggers. For example, she makes it a point to “give bloggers information whenever they need it and give them products that personally match their own health needs” because she doesn’t “want them to think that we only know them when we have events or are pitching stories.”

Mic Caldo feels the same way. “Business people that only message you when they have something to promote or a press release to send can leave a bad taste. Of course, blogging as a business is about building a brand and a platform. But first and foremost, bloggers want to work with companies that treats them with mutual respect.” – Rappler.com

 

Rappler business columnist Ezra Ferraz graduated from UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California, where he taught writing for 3 years. He now consults full-time for educational companies in the United States. He brings you Philippine business leaders, their insights, and their secrets via Executive Edge. Follow him on Twitter: @EzraFerraz

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