Read my summary of AWESOME ADVICE as heard at the Middle East Food & Travel Blogger Conference 2015 Friday 21st Feb. Fab!
Bloggers are now Influencers
- Bloggers are now very important to brands and some bloggers can expect to be paid for their work. This is because they are now thought of as Influencers as opposed to Bloggers. In reality we have to be able to blog well in order to influence effectively
- Remind companies why you are an authority on your subject. If you’re writing about Indian food for example, then remind the company of your cultural credibility and influence. Explain your strengths at presenting a different culture to a European audience in an accessible way
- In order to appear credible (so you can charge for your blog posts) bloggers/influencers need to really market themselves. They should highlight any awards they have been nominated for and won, giving reasons why there were nominated in the first place
- Agencies like experts that have mass social connections. Before approaching an agency to pitch for a blog post, research them and point out how you could help them promote their brands
- Collect stats on successful, relevant posts and include these when approaching an agency
- If an agency approaches you, ask for an official brief. Always respond with a formal proposal of what you intend to do, over what time period, include costs and payment terms and attach a page that demonstrates your social credentials and quality of engagement. It doesn’t have to be a long proposal
- Generally speaking (but not always) it’s the media agencies that have the budget to pay for blog posts as opposed to pr agencies. Ask if you can meet the brand managers or owners of the brand as well as you are creating a relationship with the brand.
- Remember PR is not the same as media although sometimes contact established via pr can lead to media connections.
- It’s important to be SELECTIVE about which jobs you take as it will be obvious if you move away from your core offering or subject.
- Don’t undersell yourself, but at the same time be realistic.
- It’s a good idea to have a Rate Card and be transparent about how you are charging for what. Always be specific about what a review would include. Some bloggers charge separately for different social media. So it could be a price for a review then another for an Instagram post and so forth. Obviously numbers of genuine followers will work here. Some bloggers have a daily rate if they have to be on location at a shoot somewhere and incorporate photographs, data and content from the day into a review that is constructed later.
- Know how you will provide analytic tracking of advertisements – you will be asked
Bloggers and Social Media
- Companies will ask for social proof so while numbers of followers are important across the platforms you use; remember Evidence of Engagement and Quality Engagement is very compelling. Companies measure engagement not per blog post but over a period of time although it doesn’t hurt to showcase good engagement via particular posts that resulted in real new leads or extra sales for the brand
- Point out who your followers are, on Facebook or any other social media platform . Establish why people follow you, is it because you are a mum they trust, a technical expert, a local celebrity or part of the media? Use genuine, dated quotes from followers to support this, like an endorsement page.
- Use the following TWEET TERMS: Exclusive, Bonus, Free, Win, Get, Awesome, Best, Amazing, Grow, You.
- Limit your hashtags and handles; try to include one specific call to action, for example RT to WIN. Ask a question for example: What do you think this competition is about? Come up with good hashtags and check they aren’t already in use if you are saying you created them.
- Use personal language and consider setting up and running a question and answer session on Twitter. Make your tweets relevant, timely and ensure they link (if there is one) to high quality content.
- Consider allowing people to tweet in answers to competitions, ref #Ispy competitions. Some competitions could incorporate a Name that Tune element via videos using Vine (6 second vids) or Instagrams (15 second vids)
- Consider scheduling tweets in a timely manner bearing in mind the time zone of your followers.
- If you are appealing to a Kuwaiti audience, then use Twitter but consider YouTube if you are aiming at Saudi audiences. Instagram is a very popular platform in the UAE.
- Connect with a range of organisations linked to the brand, so pr agencies, clients, media companies.
Bloggers and Photography
- Excellent (sorry AWESOME!) pictures results in twice the engagement level you would otherwise get and DSLR cameras do the best job
- Ensure photos are well composed and convey a real sense of place
- Consider taking a photography course and learning how to easily share DSLR camera photos onto your phone or ipad using the right apps. Although I wouldn’t throw away your smart phone just yet!
Consistency & Quality
- The quality of blog posts is very important as is consistency of your offering, so be regular with your postings and share your schedule; e.g. one blog post a week and a newsletter to subscribers every fortnight, Tweets and Instagram almost daily.
- Ensure your posts are made up of :
* accurate and verifiable data
* impactful design that includes good photographs
* an enticing but clear story
* opportunities/links to share the post
* links to other material on your blog
- It’s a good idea to guest blog somewhere and invite other bloggers to write a guest post on your site.
- Analyse how successful your posts are based on a set of criteria that includes engagement, so number of comments, number of likes as well as just number of views. Also try and establish the search terms and platforms that enabled someone to arrive at your post.
- Some good magazines include Communicate, Campaign and Gulf Marketing Review.
- Think about how you can regularly reward your subscribers (maybe not by paying them $10.00 per month!) but perhaps by running competitions offering genuine prizes that only subscribers can enter. Offering discounts on products and services, offering lucky subscribers the chance to accompany you on a review or any event that involves food!
- Do consider offering items other than blog posts if you want to monetize your blog, for example Ebooks, and branded merchandise, local tours if you know an area very well.
- Try and make your offering unique maybe by going to places others wouldn’t ordinarily travel to or put a slant on your offering for example Yoga Retreats in the Himalyas Tourism or Nature Trails in Kashmir
- Photographs have to capture the essence of what is actually going on
- Before and after your meal experience. Go beyond just writing about food
- How easy was it to book the restaurant, did they ask about any special food requests, was the meal for a particular occasion ?
- Did they email you a confirmation and send a Google map reference ?
- How warmly did the restaurant welcome you on arrival ?
- Were you allowed into the kitchen to get a feel for the place and can you take a little video of the chefs in action – (not when it’s busy!)
- Add a Google map to your review
- Include a print button for any recipe posts
* All the points in italic are thoughts I wanted to add to what I heard on the day.
U.A.E Bloggers have these points to add:
- Tehzeeb of The Tezzy Files adds: actively being part of relevant online communities can offer you more exposure.
- Ritu of FussFreeCookingBlog (don’t forget to include the word blog here) adds: companies are often quick with their feedback, once they approach you to promote their brand they will continue to work with you and promote you too.
- Tasneem of ThoughtsOverChai adds: (love the name of this blog!) she read this page via Sally Prosser’s retweet and found all the information very helpful to be presented like this especially as she couldn’t attend on the day.
I was lucky enough to get called by 24h.ae who I met at the conference itself, to do a paid review for them. So don’t forget to continue attending conferences like this, especially when you’re travelling!
Thanks again, Monica
Food, Travel and Lifestyle blogger based in Dubai.