A few weeks ago we decided, and we hope you all agreed, that independent B2B bloggers have a significant and growing industry influence.
But it’s only a part of the influence debate. Now we must ask how these influencers can be, well, influenced. The absence of an easy answer perhaps explains the lingering reticence to accept blogger power.
Traditional media is easier to get. It’s a relentless story-gathering machine with fixed editorial schedules and an absolute commitment to publish. The BBC won’t send Fiona Bruce home in a taxi just because it’s a slow news day.
Such reliability leads to conventional content tools that help fill editorial space: press releases, feature pitches, case studies, bylined articles etc.
Such tools have little, if any, appeal to rich-media loving bloggers who pay little, if any, attention to convention. If your communication department entirely mirrors the traditional media then it’s time for a change of mindset.
Competition v Community
Publishers and broadcasters are like secret agents looking for a big ‘scoop’. B2B bloggers are more of a knowledge sharing community.
Communicators cannot influence bloggers furtively from the shadows. They need an open ethos to engage the community and publicly win its respect.
Education v Expertise
Correspondents are often a mile wide and an inch deep. The genuinely influential B2B bloggers are invariably the opposite.
Content tools designed to educate rarely provide bloggers with the depth required to analyse products, issues and events as experts.
Lines v Loops
Traditional media operates linear, repeatable processes that mean today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper. B2B bloggers return to the same issues.
Traditional content tools are ‘hit and run’ and fail to satisfy the need for regular returns to the blogger’s world.
Ten Steps To Influence
So here are ten key tips to help you influence key bloggers in the absence of established behaviour and content conventions.
1. Research – Identity the big hitters. You need to know which bloggers carry most weight with their industry peers.
2. Listen – Hold! Don’t hit the pitch button. Establish the prevailing thinking and consider the impact for your business.
3. Engage – Ease in. Get involved in an open, two-way dialogue by responding to posts. Earn your stripes by following the agenda. That’s different from imposing your own.
4. Gather – Break convention. Open your organisation’s content vaults and identify the arguments and proof points that apply to the key issues.
5. Adapt – Be blogger-friendly. Crystallise responses into visual or aural content packages ripe for expert analysis and sharing: videos, podcasts, schematics, ebooks, diagrams and slides fit the bill.
6. Complement – Stay aligned. Ensure your content complements, but doesn’t simply replicate, what the media relations teams are doing.
9. Follow-Up – Don’t stop. Bloggers will respond. Make sure you’re there to answer questions or face looking exposed and unengaged.
10. Measure – Prepare metrics. Ensure you can report on KPIs like web traffic, downloads, engagements and meetings arranged.
The Blogger Bounce Effect
Blogger and media relations use different content, but effective synchronisation can deliver spectacular results.
The following graphic, christened “The Blogger Bounce Effect”, illustrates how a synergised approach improves the impact, credibility and longevity of big announcements.