If you are a destination or a media company in the travel industry, the odds are, part of your future content strategy, will involve working with travel bloggers. As with all marketing efforts, preparation, instinct and good old fashioned relationship building are best apt to lead to beneficial partnerships.
Here are my tips for what to do to ensure that good relationships are formed, your brand protected and goals met.
Do the right kind of research
Before going in search of “travel bloggers,” determine who the potential customers are you want to reach. Speculate on where they spend their time online. Read at least several articles to get a clear idea of various bloggers’ styles and type of coverage and campaigns they have participated in, in the past.
Good common sense, creativity, and instinct come into play when trying to reach a specific type of potential customer through travel blogs. Keep in mind that seekers of travel content are often “one off” visitors, seeking information only at a certain point in the buying cycle.
Unless the campaign itself is focusing on a niche or demographic that is particularly active on the internet, look beyond the obvious social media metrics. Consider interaction, such as what kind of comments are being left on a blog’s posts or how well bloggers interact with their readers on their social media channels.
Have clear goals.
Ask yourself what coverage might look like that will ultimately lead to more people booking trips to your destination. Besides blog posts, remember that good bloggers are adept at creating and sharing content through their social media channels.
Set goals for each campaign, getting as specific as possible.
Make expectations clear.
On media trips do you expect bloggers who usually live blog to do so? How soon after a blogger trip to you want blog posts from those bloggers who blog after the trip? Do you want them to try to cover the trip in other outlets? How many blog posts and social media shares would you like to see? Be sure to come up with the name of a hashtag early on, as it will encourage bloggers to use it ahead of the trip.
Depending on your existing relationship or instincts about a particular blogger and how well you have vetted him or her, you should somehow communicate precise expectations before the trip.
Find the right balance of “reach” and “niche”
Remember your ultimate goal is to have the right coverage show up at the right time in the right place for the right potential customer. In today’s marketing world this can require adaptability, finesse, and a little gambling. There is no “one size fits all” metric for determining the right bloggers that will help you meet your goals.
There’s always been a lot of confusion about metrics when it comes to choosing bloggers to work with. Bearing in mind that each situation is unique, these are the ones that generally I’d emphasize:
- Unique page views per month
- Page views for specific blog posts from past blogger campaigns
- Bounce rate and average time spent on site
- Facebook and Twitter (or other) posts and shares
- Breakdown of where traffic comes from
- Interaction, remembering that it is more important for some styles and demographics than others.
The ones I’d de-emphasize:
Fans and follower counts, Klout scores, Google pagerank and/or backlinks for a blog’s homepage (it may or may not have more meaning for specific posts.)
Most bloggers who are looking to work with travel brands have information in the form or media kits or pages available on their websites. They will not hesitate to provide additional information and analytics if requested. Some travel bloggers and writers offer copywriting services as well.
Take full advantage of a campaign’s legs
Many otherwise successful campaigns are not taking advantage of the potential longterm benefits from a blogger trip. For weeks, months or even years afterwards, actively repurpose and share content created by the blogger through your own social media channels. Take advantage of favorite seasonal coverage year after year and things that for various reasons may become relevant again over time.
Don’t miss leveraging the SEO potential. Bloggers want to link to the most relevant content that will benefit their readers. Therefore suggest well suited material to link to based on the posts they produce. In turn ask them how you can best link back to them. Remember that forming a real relationship with a blogger is protecting your brand
For better or worse, the relationship you are initiating with a blogger is an investment.
Would you ring someone’s doorbell, lie about who you are, and then ask if you could move in without paying rent? I didn’t think so.
It’s always best to be sincere and upfront about your needs or the needs of the brand you are representing. Legitimate travel bloggers know that most offers of free content are thinly disguised SEO campaigns. In some cases, it may be in a brand’s best interest to lose a few middlemen.
For blogger media visits, resist over scheduling and make it possible for them to find and contemplate the real stories they want to tell their readers.
Remember if you have done your initial research and planning, been respectful in your communication, and are focused on forming a good relationship with the bloggers you want to work with, certain things will take care of themselves.