Finding Bloggers in Your Industry

by Josh Opinion on January 26, 2011

How Do I Find Bloggers in My Industry?

Blogger engagement and creating advocates for brands is still a new process, with the online world still being a digital wild west. The engagement process is still quite raw with FTC regulations for endorsement of products and services in addition to more sophisticated, high level bloggers screening their comments and e-mails being weary of brands continually trying to pitch to them.

The truth of the matter is, top level bloggers are more attune to “the game” then many brands entering the world of PR through blogs. From personal experience it is very tough to crack what I call the “first tier” bloggers (I consider the first tier well known names already out there – the people who get pitched a lot).

What a lot of brands fail to realize is engaging with “second tier” (serious bloggers, who are somewhat known but only in close circles) can reap a lot of benefits. Many will focus on the raw following a blogger has rather than the quality of the relationship a blogger has with their audience. Bigger can be better, but quality over quantity will eventually play out.

This post isn’t about how to engage bloggers, but how to find the right ones.

Before I begin detailing the process I use, note that this takes a lot of feel and instinct to know you are following and engaging with the right blogger. There is no automated system and would only hurt you to try to outsource this entire process (although I have outsourced some of the components in the past). You get this feel and instinct through following blogger and actually reading what they have to say.

Depending on your key performance metrics to measure online engagement, you will find engaging with bloggers with quality followings can produce better performance versus vanity metrics such as unique visitors coming to your site.

Here is one strategy that I use religiously to get in contact and follow the conversation amongst bloggers:

1. Use WeFollow to Identify the Top “Influencers” on Twitter

WeFollow doesn’t get enough credit for its simplicity and ability to start finidng active bloggers in any industry on Twitter. I’m not giving it credit for being the most accurate in showcasing who is the best of the best on Twitter given a particular topic, but it is a fast and simple way to find active people on Twitter by hashtags they have associated themselves with.
To start, I simply use a keyword search and get the Top 50 tweeps that WeFollow generates in a given industry or market. All this information is manually entered onto an Excel spreadsheet. Some important items I track:

  • Twitter Handle
  • Real Name (if provided)
  • Personal Brand (are they using a nifty handle to brand themselves online?)
  • Website

You can extract all of this information from their Twitter profile.

2. Examine Social Media Activity

After pulling the basic data above, I visit their blog and note how many times they are posting, what their content is about, quality and quantity of comments for a post, etc. This is qualitative data that needs to be done manually to gain your own sentiment.

The second bit of information I try to pull is their Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and e-mail. If you search, many bloggers who have already started to form professional relationships with brads to review their product or service have a media section. This sometimes will have an e-mail for brands to talk directly with them.

If I can’t find their social media profiles on their site or if they are missing one, I go to this secret site called Google and do some quick searches for them to get that information.

All of this information goes onto the spreadsheet I started in Step 1.

Of importance is to note the blogroll. Often times I don’t record the bloggers they list on their site (I should), but do a quick glance of the blog names. Scanning this information in this process of blogger identification will usually leave an imprint of who is being repeated. Add those repeats to your spreadsheet as well.

3. Listen to the Bloggers

I consider this process both active and passive. Active in the sense is I find who they are speaking to on Twitter or who is speaking to them. The best way I to find to identify this  “active” conversation is to use another secret website- Twitter Search.

  • To find people that are speaking to them, simply type in “@twitterhandle” in the search bar and it will populate a list of people tweeting to them in the last few days.
  • To find who they are talking to, I will just go to their Twitter profile twitter.com/twitterhandle and find instances when they use the @ sign. You can also do this on Twitter Search in the Advanced Search section.

I develop private groups to monitor the conversation of these two bullet points. After studying the conversation occurring, you should get an innate sense and trend of who in that group are people you want to add to your spreadsheet of potential bloggers to engage with.

For “passive” listening, I want to find general trends in followers and people the blogger in question is following. To do this I use a tool called Who Follows Whom which shows the “Followed by” and “Following” count between two or more Twitter handles. You can read how to use this tool in my post on how I use Twitter here: Building a Twitter Following Based on Affinity.

(Bonus points if you take the RSS feeds from the blog examination in Step 2 and put them in Google Reader or some other RSS reader. But seriously- you should really take the time to set up your reader, because once Google Reader pulls enough posts from the blog you can do a key word search through numerous bloggers to find the content your brand is interested in.)

4. Begin the Engagement Process

If you did your due diligence in Step 2 and 3, you should know which bloggers you want to target and start to engage. This step is to simply break the ice and begin the engagement process. This isn’t about jumping the fence and trying to start pitching your brand. You can, but it will be a waste of time if your brand isn’t widely recognized by the general public or within the industry.

Beginning the engagement process goes in the general social media “guru/ninja/expert” stratosphere of adding value and taking interest in what they have to say (both in industry wise and personally). This is the step where you begin to have your brand be known to the blogger in a very real, low key, and relational manner.

5. The Rest is Up to You

How you pitch or try to position your product is up to you after you get through the general engagement process. Steps 1 to Step 3 are the most important to make sure you are targeting qualified bloggers to engage with. This is a lengthy and time consuming process to do, but you will get an immense understanding of key bloggers in your industry and if you decide to listen closely enough you will be able to find the right people to position your brand with.

(Note: Unless it is for professional or important reasons, I don’t proof or edit my posts. If you have a question or comment on anything above or if I went on a tangent and need me to get back, drop a comment below.)

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