When your brand’s story becomes a blogger’s story, when a blogger continues to talk about a brand past initial engagement, when the content about a brand is rich and fits seamlessly with the identity of the blogger — that’s when you know you have successfully engaged a blogger.
Dr. Lisa Lundy, an associate professor at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication, studied bloggers who traveled to Uganda for one week with Compassion International, a nonprofit organization that seeks to release “children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”
Dr. Lundy spoke at Thursday’s May meeting about how organizations, especially nonprofits, can strategically engage bloggers to achieve goals and further success.
Social Capital Theory is the belief that social networks have value and social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups (Putnam 2000, p.19). Many bloggers aspire to bring about change, to make a difference, and they build social capital by gaining readers’ respect and loyalty. Dr. Lundy shared lessons (that can serve as tips) she learned while researching the bloggers who traveled to Uganda with Compassion she chose:
- Recruit bloggers who are storytellers and give them a story to tell.
- Recruit bloggers with a strong sense of purpose and identity.
- Recruit bloggers who know how to engage readers.
- Help bloggers develop content that reflects their usual content. For example, if he or she is a food blogger, provide him or her with an opportunity to see and taste foods native to the country he or she is visiting. “The Nester,” a blogger who traveled with Compassion, references it four times and includes photos from her trip in her book The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful (That’s what I call successful blogger engagement). Compassion helped “The Nester” experience the homes and hospitality of the people of Uganda.
- Help bloggers talk about difficult or complex issues. Child poverty is not an issue that should be over-simplified.
- Position your nonprofit as an effective response to the problem.
- Give bloggers specific behaviors to encourage. Ask what you want the blog posts to accomplish, what is your goal and what actions can people take to accomplish that goal. For Compassion, it could be keeping current sponsors, recruiting new sponsors, etc. To keep current sponsors, Compassion may ask bloggers to post photos of letters hanging in the children’s’ rooms to show sponsors how important they are to the children.
By learning theses lessons and practicing them when engaging a blogger, you are helping to build his or her social capital and, ultimately, you bring about change.
The goal is to recruit the people who regularly talk to the people who you ultimately want to reach. How do you identify which bloggers to recruit? Dr. Lundy suggests asking people in your organization which blogs they read.
“It is not about the size of a blogger’s network,” she said. “It is about the richness of the content and the fit.”
We (brands) cannot all offer bloggers trips across the world. Even so, Dr. Lundy stressed the importance of providing bloggers with a story, an opportunity for an experience or swag.
Engaging bloggers well suited for your brand can help you increase brand advocates and communities and, as mentioned, change the world.
Also, check out some of Dr. Lundy’s favorite local blogs: