Today’s business environment is fierce, and it takes more than selling to stay ahead of the competition. Through carefully curated blogs, brands of all sizes have transformed into connectors, linking customers with relevant, valuable information online. The blogosphere is more than a virtual Wild West; consider it an important tactic in your overall communications strategy.
Content Is King
The power behind blogging lies in its content. Strike the right balance of genuine, relevant and useful information and you’ve likely hit a blog-worthy home run. Brands who take the time to research current trends, pertinent news and upcoming events are more likely to be found via internet searches, resulting in more actively engaged readers. With the right content, bloggers can often build a significant readership while boosting their presence on social media.
How do you strike the right content balance? Write with your customer’s needs in mind, and keep the connection to your brand in your back pocket. Say you’re a bicycle manufacturer, and Southern California has just hit the rainiest season of the year. A series of blog posts on biking safety—including, for example, a post about lowering tire pressure when cycling on wet pavement to reduce the chances of falling—couldn’t come at a better time. It’s not direct selling. It’s demonstrating that you’re an expert in your field and sharing important tips with a relevant audience. Down the road, when a reader decides it’s time to buy a new bike, an important brand relationship has already been established ahead of time.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Strong blog content is the “gift that keeps on giving.” Every post you publish becomes a page of searchable content, boosting organic search engine relevance, thus keeping your brand top of mind and at the top of online searches. It’s also a highly effective way to stay engaged with your readers, building an atmosphere of long-term trust among your audience. And of course, it’s a way to further extend your brand’s personality in ways that traditional marketing may not.
And once you publish a post, don’t forget to share it via social media. Depending on the product or service, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are among the biggest traffic drivers for bloggers. When preparing your blog content, be sure to set aside some time to determine how you’ll create a compelling line or two for social media to entice your followers to click through and read more.
Keeping It Going
Starting a blog seems simple enough, but one of the biggest challenges brands face is maintaining it with quality content and active engagement. It can become a full-time job! Creating an editorial calendar with at least a full month of content is a great way to organize and prepare upcoming posts. Some bloggers publish daily content, while others focus on posting 1-3 times per week. The key: stay consistent with your publishing schedule so that your readers know what to expect and stay interested. It’s also important to take the time to respond to questions and comments that come through. And while you’re at it, look around and follow other blogs—whether they are brands or influencers—and post your own comments using your blog’s handle. Engaging with other brands or influencers is a great way to stay connected, show support and also put your name out there on other channels.
Leveraging the Power of Influencers
Social media influencers are powerful people, and brands of all sizes align with these unique trendsetters to help boost their presence and sell their products. Some influencers are bloggers, while others focus primarily on social media platforms like Instagram, where they post photos and captions daily, tagging brands along the way. The beauty behind influencers lies in their extremely loyal, dedicated followers—audiences often in the thousands and even millions—who are influenced by their purchase decisions. Brands can align with specific influencers by offering them complimentary products, services or monetary compensation in exchange for a blog post or social media posts that promote their offerings. The key is to collaborate with influencers who truly believe in your brand and would actually use your product or service, making it a seamless and genuine fit for both parties. Aside from boosting visibility, aligning with influencers helps put your brand front and center in the social space—a must to further pique interest and build awareness. Here are four easy steps to recruit and cultivate social influencers:
- Search relevant hashtags for like-minded users
An easy way to connect with influencers is to search relevant hashtags and locate the users who may be good fits for your brand.
- Review user profiles
Once you’ve targeted influencers, review their profiles and fan bases to determine whether the individual is not only influential in the social space, but more importantly an engaged influencer. An influencer with 600,000 followers that don’t comment or like many posts may be less valuable to a brand than one with 70,000 followers that are actively engaged, die-hard fans.
- Reach out to influencers you’ve deemed valuable
Many influencers are very open to brand collaborations and often share their contact information openly on their social media profiles and blogs. Some “famous” influencers may use agents to serve as the middleman. Either way, reach out with a well-written, personalized email that explains how you find a strong connection between them and your brand, and how you propose working together for a win-win collaboration.
- Be genuine
No matter what, remember that the connection between the influencers and the brand needs to be sincere and transparent in order to maintain trust and relevancy for both parties.
Leslie Licano is co-founder of Beyond Fifteen Communications Inc.