I am hereby making the jump from humans to robots for all my blogger research. In the last decade I have seen social media marketing and digital PR mature as a practice, I have seen social media metrics and analytics evolve by leaps-and-bounds.
When it came to the tools being offered for prospecting, managing, and tracking online engagement and outreach, the quality had been dubious, the licensing too expensive, and of limited value. In many cases, it came down to whether the cost, learning curve, and value of each particular product actually made sense to the process and bottom line of my agency.
And what was I comparing all of these social CRMs, influencer-identification services, and blogger databases to? I was comparing them to the cost of hiring a team of people to do all of the work by hand.
What I do is a little different than the garden variety influencer outreach. I don’t reach out to 40 bloggers over time, I reach out to upwards of 2000 bloggers all-at-once. What I need is I need painfully-fresh and large lists of bloggers, each blog needing to be perfectly targeted to the clients’ products, services, news, location, restrictions, and needs.
For military bloggers, I need lists that are both American and also pro-military and pro-soldier. Tricky. And I need a lot of them. I need brains and discernment. I also need blog names, formatted-correctly, and blogger names, spelled right, and I need to make sure the blog is current, and active. What I need more than anything else, however, is the blogger’s correct email address as I pitch via email.
I have been searching in earnest for a software solution that would be affordable enough to make sense.
In the beginning, my time was free so it made sense to identify blogs, prospect bloggers, engage communities, pitch influencers, and write reports all on my own, allowing me to make every dollar billed.
Then, as my company scaled and I couldn’t do it all on my own, I had teammates do it — but they hated it. Then I found an offshore team that worked when — and only when — I needed them and offered me an affordable solution in enough of a timely manner that I could easily work it into the campaign plan.
The majority of the solutions out there are focused not on list-building or email-acquisition but they’re focused on the persistent engagement and long-term intimacy required by what I call A-list blogger outreach.
This sort of high-influencer outreach generally is limited to 25-100 hyper-targeted and super-influential bloggers, tweeters, Facebookers, YouTubers, SoundClouders, Instagramers, Viners, and I guess Google Plussers.
What these social media publicists need is a CRM for bloggers instead of business clients and prospects.
They need to maintain a current and details-oriented dossier on each and every person with whom they communicate, noting history, preferred method of contact, preferences, boundaries, and even marital status, number of children, vacations, political leaning, etc. Like spycraft, like sales, like the best hotels and condominiums.
That said, for me, it was always easier to just task my overseas team a couple-few weeks before I needed my topical lists, give them a very strict parameter based on what I needed (US-only or pro-this or anti-this, etc, each parameter costing a little more as records are harder to collect), give them a very detailed keywords list, and let them dig, dig, dig.
Anyway, that’s why it’s so important for me to make sure I have the following sorted out before I choose the right tool family to marry into. It needs:
- Hundreds and thousands of blogs collected over a wide swatch of topics, verticals, demographics, and geographics.
- All the blogs need to have contact info because the bloggers’ names, titles, and email addresses are essential to me
- All the blogs and bloggers need to be pre-QA‘d, quality-controlled, and vetted as bloggers who aren’t hiding their contact info
- All the contact info for all the blogs need to be constantly-scraped and constantly-updated.
- The ability to export everything I need into an Excel or CSV file that I can use in my own systems
- And, it would be really amazing to be able to track the bloggers who end up being the most keen and promote them to the A-list
- Traffic stats, reach, penetration, popularity, and clout of the blogs and bloggers would be ideal
- The ability to upload long lists of blog URLs to create lists or social media handles or emails to find blogs would be perfect (am I asking too much?)
I didn’t think it was possible to find all of these services, a way to free me from needing to do extensive personal blogger research myself or all the front-end and back end setup and quality-control. And, if I were able to find a service like this, I was afraid that it would be a limited database of moldering contact info, collected only and never purged.
So, I would query the service, get a whole lot of blogs and bloggers back, and suffer from the fact that most of the blogs, bloggers, and emails addresses are not only stale but possibly toxic. But then recently, over coffee, friend of mine in the same business told me about his secret weapon: GroupHigh.
Skeptical, I got a demo exploration and was pleasantly surprised: but it really seems perfect for my needs. I’m going to start using it, and let you know how it works for me, how I use it, the sort of benefits and value-add that I can then pass to my clients through access, continuity, persistence, social media as well as accurate reporting.
This is going to be a bit of a John Henry experience: men versus automation. I will be sure to report in on how things are going. We’re engaged with some pretty high profile companies for serious blogger outreach — so I will be able periodically report on how GroupHigh performs compared to my team of researchers.
Let me know if you have any questions or queries in the comments — I am very interested in learning more about your process, the services you use, and how you initiation, manage, maintain, and deepen your online influencer outreach and engagement campaigns.