In my last post, I took a look at the evolution of blogger relations and the sponsored post. Since bloggers are not taking pitches for earned content nine times out of 10, sponsored posts are the way to go.
The obvious negative here is that you’re paying for the post, which means the era of earned blog posts is essentially over. You’ll need to manage your client expectations to this effect, and in some instances, even work with them to partner with marketing to fund the efforts. That said, there are some important advantages to sponsored posts, namely that agencies and their clients now have more control of what is being said about their brands online.
Here are 9 tips to ensure you are getting the most out of sponsored posts.
- Research, research, research – Find bloggers who are not only influential, with good engagement, followers and subscribers, but who are also a good fit to tell your story. Start with the bloggers who would be on your top 10 wish list if you were pitching an earned post.
- Listen – As you reach out to your prospective blogger partners, listen to what they have to say and what ideas they have about promoting your brand. You’ll want to incorporate these into your… blogger agreement (tip 3!).
- Create a blogger agreement – This document will spell out exactly what you expect for the investment you’ll be making in your relationship with these bloggers. Make sure the language is simple and clear, and insist both parties involved sign it before you move forward. While most of the language will remain consistent from blogger to blogger, personalize the content section so that you’re playing to each blogger’s strong suit. For instance, if one blogger is particularly outstanding at video, ask for an extra video post from him/her.
- Idea-starters – To help your blogger partners understand the campaign and the type of posts you’d like to see, provide them with a few potential topics with a short description of each.
- Key messages – Create a key message document with five key messages from the campaign. Ask that the bloggers use some iteration (not verbatim!) of three out of the five messages in each post. This is where your strengths as a writer really come into play. You need to be sure you’re giving the bloggers excellent copy that’s easy to personalize and work with.
- Vary the content – If you are just asking for a blog post, you aren’t getting the most bang for your buck. You should also ask for tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, even Twitter parties. The sky is the limit – so get creative!
- Anchor text – Strategically work with your SEO team to determine a few key phrases you’d like linked to your site. Be sure you are linking to relevant, quality content, and be sure you are up-to-date on the latest Google SEO algorithm updates, so that your efforts don’t do more harm than good.
- FTC guidelines – Adhere to the latest and greatest from the FTC to make sure neither your clients nor your blogger partners find themselves under investigation. First and foremost, this means clear disclosure on all posts – whether on blogs or social networks. For the rest, check out the .com Disclosure Guidelines.
- It’s a balance! – Don’t forget, you have chosen these bloggers because you like their voices and you believe they are a great fit for your clients’ brand. While you can help with ideas and messages, make sure they know that you appreciate their style, and that you want to hear their tone and voice in their posts.
What are your tips for great sponsored posts? Let us know in the comments!
[image credit: ownyourmoney.com]