For any company that is looking to leverage the blogosphere in its marketing communications efforts, here's all you need to do:
9:00 am - 11:00 am: Go to Technorati and Google Blog Search and search for bloggers that are talking about your company. Make a list of at least 20 bloggers that have blogged about your company within the last 2 weeks. Concentrate on bloggers that appear to be evangelizing your company, but also add some bloggers that are critical of your efforts.
11:00 am - 2:00 pm: After you have your list of at least 20 bloggers that are talking about your company, go back to every blog and respond to the blog post where your company is mentioned. Clearly identify yourself, and your position with the company. Address only the topics presented, and any relevant information. Invite replies from readers. Thank the blogger for the comment, and then go back and email them thanking them for their comments, and let them know that you are available for a short phone discussion or interview, if they are interested.
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm: Subscribe to the feeds from all the blogs you commented on, as well as their comment feeds, if available. If your company has a blog, add links to any bloggers that are evangelizing your company on your company blog's sidebar.
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Visit your list of blogs again, and read any new posts, and also reply to any comments that were addressed to you, or relevant comments that other readers have left.
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm: Answer any emails from bloggers, and if possible, schedule times to discuss topics raised with blogger on the phone, or via interview.
This will get your blogger-outreach program off the ground. From this point, every day you should read the blogs via your feedreader. Also, at least twice a week, you should again check Technorati and Google Blog Search for new mentions about your company, and repeat the process.
Why this will benefit your company:
1 - It will get you noticed in the blogosphere. This is a coordinated effort to reach out to bloggers and to engage them in their space. What you are basically saying is that 'I respect you enough to take the time to respond.' That's HUGE!
2 - It will show bloggers that you are serious about starting a conversation with them. This is why you can't do this once, you have to make it a habit to read blogs from your evangelists (and even detractors). This wins even more respect among bloggers.
3 - It will get bloggers talking about your company. It is still rare for companies to make a sincere effort to monitor and respond to bloggers as part of a marketing strategy. It also encourages bloggers to evangelize your company, AND, just as importantly, it encourages OTHER bloggers to evangelize your company. As we saw with Saturn replying to Chris, the story became Kyle taking the time to respond to Chris. That led several other blogs to link to Saturn and applaud their efforts, that otherwise would have never mentioned the company. You are literally creating a network of bloggers that will be more likely to promote and evangelize your company.
4 - It will greatly improve your social media and marketing efforts. Simply talking to your customers and potential customers in their space in the blogosphere is a wonderful way to better understand them, but also to better understand how social media works. It's one thing to hear about how quickly ideas spread in the blogosphere, it's quite another to spend a few hours talking to bloggers on their blogs, and then to see how quickly other bloggers link to your actions.
5 - It means you stop wasting time on lame-ass mass email pitches to bloggers. These almost never work, and frequently backfire. Actually taking the time to talk to us in OUR space is MUCH more effective.
6 - It shows bloggers that 'you get it'. This makes bloggers much more likely to pay attention to your company, and blog about you, your products, and marketing efforts. Which means the network of bloggers that are talking about your company is further expanded. Which doesn't hurt your company's Google Juice either.
Again, this program can be launched in a day, for free. Why not give it a whirl tomorrow?
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing