PR consultant Mike Nolan shares advice on how aesthetic professionals can build successful relationships with bloggers to improve their online marketing and increase their customer base
A decade ago, barely anyone knew what a blogger was. Thanks to the great tidal wave of digital communication in recent years, however, these ‘internet writers’, for want of a better term, have become an integral part of modern communication. Working in public relations (PR), I now recommend that most of my clients make blogger outreach an essential part of their marketing plan. I also advise that for certain industries, in particular aesthetics, clients do their utmost to look for what I call the ‘professional bloggers’, and go out of their way to ‘make friends’ with them. In my opinion, this might be the wisest marketing decision they will ever make.
Certainly in the beauty and aesthetics industry, bloggers have a very loyal following, so getting to know them could be hugely beneficial for increasing your patient base and future business development.
The best bloggers can have millions of followers and be extremely influential people. For example, 25-year-old Zoella has more than 10 million YouTube followers1 and, while some adults may not have heard of her, my 11-year-old daughter will listen to Zoella more than she will her mother.Zoella is certainly one of the UK’s blogging stars and, while getting her on board would now likely be a big ask, consider if you got hold of her four years ago – where would someone with Zoella’s reach and influence have taken your business?
It used to be the case that magazines, newspapers and the rest of traditional media held the key to the best PR opportunities, however bloggers are now considered as valuable as some of the best beauty magazines in terms of sharing powerful endorsements. I believe this is evident by the sheer number of followers they have.2 As most business owners know, the best way to find new customers is through a recommendation. That recommendation could be from Patient A, who was so delighted with her treatment results at your clinic that she tells her best friend, Patient B, who in turn gets in touch with you and books an appointment. If a popular beauty blogger likes what you do, they could tell their 50,000 followers that your product or service is simply the best, dramatically increasing the chance of a referral.
The savviest businesses are increasingly recognising the important role that bloggers can play in their marketing plan. But who are these bloggers, and how do you reach them? Bloggers are often a PR professional, journalist, photographer, videographer, search engine expert and social media specialist all rolled into one. Luckily for you, finding bloggers is relatively easy. If your budget is limited, then the first port of call should be Google. It’s free and it’s easy to use. For example, put in your search term, ‘beauty bloggers’ and see what comes up. Generally, somebody will have pulled together a list of the best beauty bloggers and, very helpfully, will often rate them for you, so you can see instantly which blogger would be most appropriate for your business growth goals.
One such website, Blow Ltd, lists the 27 most powerful beauty bloggers in the UK and, while the stats presented are a year old, it gives you a good idea of how many followers a blogger can reach.2If you don’t have time to search through Google listings, you can take some shortcuts. Two of my favourite tools are Buzzsumo3 and Authority Spy.4 Buzzsumo is a great platform for discovering interesting content and finding those influential bloggers who are hopefully going to talk about your clinic. You can search based on topics/keywords or Twitter usernames, filter by type of user (e.g. bloggers, influencers, journalists) and then sort your results by various metrics. Usefully, it can also help you identify which posts are getting the most shares for your competitors. Buzzsumo allows a free trial, but then depending on the amount of use, starts at £55 per month.
Authority Spy is a simple and easy to use influencer research tool that also has helpful features for those starting out, and, if you are feeling creative, you can also source guest blogging opportunities. Simply enter a search term and the system does the rest, pulling together hundreds of influential bloggers in a matter of seconds. Once you have reviewed the results, the platform provides a direct link to their social media profiles, so it’s easy to access your potential bloggers. This service starts at around £20 for a basic package.
If a popular beauty blogger likes what you do, they could tell their 50,000 followers that your product or service is simply the best, dramatically increasing the chance of a referral
Once you find the kind of bloggers that you want to make contact with, spend some time exploring the content of their blog posts and make sure that their audience and your target market are in harmony. Bear in mind, that when it comes to a blog audience, bigger isn’t always better. It’s better to go where there’s a small audience who may be your exact target market. For example, if you’re trying to promote your post-pregnancy weight loss treatment, telling an audience of teenage girls seeking acne treatments won’t have much of an impact.
Some bloggers have a PR page, which means they are interested in partnering with brands and will be open to you contacting them. When making contact, the first thing to remember is that they are human just like me and you, and most respond positively to the personal bespoke approach, so no bulk emailing! Ensure you have done your research and understand what your potential blogger is interested in, then tell them a little bit about your business and how you could work together.
It’s not easy capturing the attention of the right kind of bloggers, and all blogs are not equal. Some blogs might look the part, however they may not have a great following. This means that even if the blogger agrees to talk about you, enough of, or even the right people may not hear the messages they subsequently share. Ensure you have thoroughly researched not only the blogger’s blog, but also their social media accounts and the responses from their followers to the content they share. Important questions to ask include:
It may also be advisable to offer bloggers some kind of compensation for helping promote your product or service. Newer bloggers who are hoping to make a name for themselves may be willing to help promote your products or services in exchange for free products to review, or a ‘shout out’ via your social media channels. While these emerging bloggers do not necessarily rely on their blog as their main income, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be compensated for the value that they can offer your brand.
With established bloggers, who produce blogs for a living, you should ensure that you offer them a fair rate of compensation. If the rates aren’t clear from the blogger’s media kit, which is usually on their website, ask about this. Many bloggers will have rates for working with brands, but are usually open to negotiation depending on the project. They may also be open to ‘payment’ in the form of products or services – this is a case of common sense – only do something that you feel is right and at all times bear in mind that this, like all relationships is about nurturing and trust.
Be specific about your campaign goals and let the blogger know what these are. It is important, however, that you are not controlling what the blogger can and can’t do. Bloggers are usually very creative people and could dream up better promotional ideas than you would have ever thought of. The promotional formats that bloggers are now using are wide-ranging and may include, amongst others, written blogs, videos, photography, graphic design and social media. Let the blogger feel free to decide how they communicate with their audience.
Hopefully this article has equipped you with the knowledge to approach bloggers with confidence and got you excited to explore this particular form of digital marketing further. If you’re still a little hesitant then talk to a media professional who should be able to help point you in the right direction and find appropriate bloggers for you. Remember, just as you would in other business arrangements, if you like how the blogger has worked, show your appreciation. If you nurture the relationship, the blogger will, in all likelihood, become
a brand advocate and keep promoting your business, even if you aren’t passing money to them. And remember, bloggers are the new stars of the digital age, so embrace them – they aren’t about to go anywhere soon.
Zoella, (UK, YouTube, 2016) https://www.youtube.com/user/zoella280390?feature=mhee
Emma Cooke, 27 Most Powerful Beauty Bloggers (UK, Blow Ltd, 2015) http://www.blowltd.com/magazine/magazine/27-most-powerful-uk-beauty-bloggers-weve-crunched-the-numbers.html#.VqfP-PmLTIU
Buzzsumo (2016) http://buzzsumo.com/
Authority Spy (2016) http://authorityspy.com