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10 ways to improve your blogger outreach at Natural Products Expo

social media at Natural Products Expo West

If you've been considering adding blogger outreach to your marketing plans, you are wise. According to studies, blogger recommendations wield more power to influence than celebrity endorsements. Twenty percent of women that use social media are motivated to purchase things that have been promoted by bloggers they adore, compared to only 13 percent from celebrity endorsements. If that sounds odd to you, consider this: It's all a matter of trust. Women trust bloggers more when it comes to product recommendations because they feel like they have more in common.

So now that you understand how powerful bloggers are in influencing product purchases, would you like to know how you can improve your chances of getting profiled by a blogger this Expo? We took this question directly to the ShiftCon bloggers and asked them how a brand can be on top of their game this year. And the bloggers had lots to say...

Make your social media platforms clear & easy to find. Ensure your accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are clearly displayed and spelled out. I can't tell you how many times a brand has pointed to the Instagram logo on a piece of paper to tell me, We're on Instagram, while I'm thinking, Great, but what is your name on Instagram? Please make sure your social media platforms are easy to find on the go.

Full products are always better to give away. You want them to feel the love, right? So if that is the case, load them up with full products, not a bunch of samples. It's your way of saying, "I respect your profession!" And the really savvy brands will hold some special bags to the side just for bloggers that come to talk to them.

Put someone in charge of blogger relations. When a blogger comes up to your booth to check out your products, make sure to have the business card of someone specific as a contact. Better yet, have that person standing there. Imagine it being similar to a press contact. It would be bad to hand them a flyer with an email that is attached and say, "Oh, just email our marketing department." This tells them you don't have your social media game together.

Make sure you follow up. Bloggers are very busy. If you would like to see your brand receive coverage, it requires you to follow up with them after the Expo to see if they have everything they need.

Taking a product is not a promise of a post or share. Long gone are the days that you could send a blogger a product and expect a blog post in return. Don't get me wrong, that still happens. But when you are inundated by hundreds of brands in one day, it's unlikely everyone will get an equal shot. The merits of your product and how they fit into their personal brand are very important. But if you want a deeper relationship with them, ask them how they work with brands. Each blogger is different. Some of them will charge while others won't. It just depends on how their business is structured.

Don't ever say the word "mommy blogger." Just don't. Not everyone becomes a mom or even writes about their children. They are, however, women who have an incredible amount of influence over the marketplace. When you refer to any type of blogger as a "mommy blogger" you are communicating to them you don't respect or understand their profession. I know it gets repeated over and over again in the media, but just know they hate it. Saying "mom blogger" is fine if that is what they do. Just leave off the y.

The blogger is in the driver's seat. Please refrain from telling a blogger what to do. Once you venture into the realm of telling an influencer what to do with their platform, you could be come dangerously close to insulting them, OR they will send you an invoice because that is a different relationship. Don't forget that they don't work for you, and they know more about how to utilize their unique platforms to give a brand promotion. Don't act as if you know more than them about their audience. Maybe you wanted an Instagram post but they gave you a Facebook update instead. Or maybe you become part of a bigger post about an industry concept they want to expand on. Whatever it is, you are going for a ride and you have no control over the destination unless you pay for it. Just be thankful.

Share the love. If an influencer creates content for you, it's customary for you to thank them by sharing their content on your social media platforms. So if you see a tweet, retweet it. If it's a share on Instagram, you can use Repost to promote it on Instagram. And if they write an actual post for you, you should promote it on 1-2 of your social platforms to say thank you.

There is nothing wrong with paying for sponsored posts. Are you hung up on paid media vs. earned media? Just stop. Paid media is perfectly acceptable now. In fact, if you aren't including some paid media with bloggers in your marketing plans this year, you are missing out. The No. 1 reason consumers trusts blog advice is because their past recommendations have been spot on. When fans analyze their favorite blogger, they don't automatically think about all the money clouding their judgment. They trust them because they haven't been let down. It's very unlikely that a blogger will promote your product if they don't actually like it, because once a blogger loses that trust, they lose EVERYTHING. Therefore, think about it...they aren't for sale.

Bloggers love stories about people and inspiration. Ingredients are very important, but so are stories. And if your audience is primarily women, you need to have some interesting substance in addition to facts. Bloggers are storytellers, so give them some ammo. Give them something juicy and inspiring. Introduce them to your staff, and get to know each other.

Okay, so now that you know, do better. Think of some ways you can engage that blogger when they come to your booth asking you about your new products. Tell them a story, ask them about how to work with them, respect their profession, give them a special bag of products, and get to know them. I promise you the relationship you create will be of great value to you in the future.

Leah Segedie is the founder of the Mamavation community, blogging network and ShiftCon Social Media Conference, as well as a food activist and social media consultant.

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