26 February 2014
Blogger and MW copywriter Jack Collier unveils the key to holding a successful blogger event, and why he’s always on board if there’s champers and nibbles on the go!
Sitting at my desk in MW HQ, I feel my iPhone buzz in my pocket. For just a few moments (I promise boss, it was a mere 30 seconds) I indulge myself and read my email from a mystery recipient: ‘We request the pleasure of your company at our upcoming event.’
Someone is requesting the pleasure of my presence? After double-checking that it isn’t a family wedding—something that I’d dodge like a bullet—I’m flattered to learn that I’ve been invited to a blogger event. There’s an exclusive opportunity to see a new range of products, meet industry experts and other bloggers, and there’s even a chance to review some products. Count me in.
As a MW veteran and a keen blogger myself, I’m in the perfect position to examine the two sides of a blogging event: that of the brand hosting and that of the blogger attendant. In this post, I’ll explain what it takes to pull off a successful event, from the perspective of a marketing guru and an enthusiastic online contributor.
One of these events is the perfect opportunity to get your brand out in the open and set tongues wagging. Do it right and you’ll unleash a wave of Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagram pictures—and of course blog posts—that reverberate across the web, talking about how great your brand is.
There should be no doubt in the mind of your blogger guests as to who is hosting the event they’re attending. There’s no room for subtlety or coyness; shout from the rooftops that you’re responsible for this fabulous evening! You’re the one who’s put together the outstanding collection of products and it’s thanks to you that bloggers are getting to experience them.
Champagne, nibbles and a goodie bag are the generic finishing touches to any blogger event invitation, and they’re usually enough to seal the deal for individuals who are in two minds about attending. Thinking outside the box could also grab the attention of bloggers: when we hosted our free digital marketing seminar, sausage butties were our choice of nibbles!
However, a bowl of Bombay Mix, a glass of Cava and a night of mingling alone won’t have serious bloggers breaking down to door to get in. When I say ‘serious bloggers’, I’m talking about the ones with a wide readership – although they’re also the bloggers who are likely to be inundated with invitations to events. Unfortunately, these are exactly the people you want to attend and write about your brand, so it’s important that you have a decent hook to entice these blogging pros in.
Bloggers are always looking for material to write posts around and will jump at the chance to feature unique and interesting content—like the unveiling of a new range or meeting with an expert—on their site. It means more valuable content and higher readership for them, and since they’re interested in this topic enough to dedicate their time to writing a blog, you’ll appeal to them directly too. How can it fail?
Your selling point could be the unveiling of a new range, a lecture or seminar led by a relevant industry figure—anything that’s going to jump out at your invitees and make them think: “Yes, that would make for a great post on my site.”
Beth Dennis, a Mediaworks Online Marketing Executive and experienced blogger, has organised and attended her fair share of events, and doesn’t underestimate the effectiveness of activities. She says: “Having activities or demonstrations will promote interaction between bloggers, and makes their posts more shareable. I’m currently in the process of organising a fashion event, in which bloggers will be styling looks from the collection, as well as chatting with buyers; the aim is to really push the products out and garner as much blogging coverage as possible from one big effort.”
If the nature of your business permits it, dedicate a portion of the evening to something proactive, to get your bloggers interacting with your product and each other. For example, if you’re a fashion outlet revealing a new collection, organise a style session whereby you ask bloggers to put together a dream outfit. They’ll Instagram it to the death.
The opportunity to promote your brand might be a biggie, but the pressure to get things right is equally daunting. In the same way that tongues will be wagging after a successful event, a poorly organised or executed function has the same potential to be splashed across social media and the blogging community.
PPC Executive and interior-design blogger Hannah Mattinson says: “When it comes to making your event invite stand out from the crowd, personalisation is everything. If you’re sending invites via email, it pays to browse of the blogger’s site first—and don’t be afraid to shout about it. Including a ‘I loved your post on X, and would like to invite you to our similarly themed event’ won’t go amiss with busy bloggers, and the more relevant your event is to their blog topics, the more likely they are to attend.”
Organisation is key. I’ve been to my fair share of shoddy events, when a lack of insight has left me uninspired by the brand hosting the night. Whether it’s a meagre collection of items on display, an industry speaker who’s not actually that relevant, or an inappropriate venue, all of these factors will reflect badly on the brand with its name above the door.
Even a simple, forgivable error, like scheduling a blogger’s event in the city centre on the same evening as a football match, when parking is a nightmare, could have a massive impact on how many attend.
Too much hangs in the balance to make avoidable errors. Plan, plan and plan some more to give yourself the best chance of success.
Your night’s been a resounding success. A fantastic turnout, networking with bloggers and an obvious interest in your products or services has made all the hard work worth it.
However, rather than relaxing your efforts until the next time you decide to host an event, use this opportunity when you have direct access to bloggers to carry on your new relationship. Distribute discount voucher codes for your business to encourage new custom, or arrange a few items for bloggers to review on their sites. You have them right in front of you: it would be a shame to let these contributors simply walk out the door.
Blogging events aren’t the be-all and end-all of brand management. However, they are a fantastic opportunity to meet with enthusiastic, online contributors who have a genuine passion for the industry your brand is operating in.
Pull it off, and you’ve secured yourself some welcome coverage and publicity. Before that leftover bubbly has even reached room temperature, your invitees will be scurrying home to begin writing, posting and Tweeting what they’ve seen and experienced, spreading the word about your brand in the process.
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