Guest posting can be a very powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal. If executed properly it can lead to a traffic boost, a boost in social media following, a boost in SEO-friendly inbound links, and most importantly, it can help build some very powerful long-term connections with influencers in your particular business vertical.
And it’s that last element that will provide the most powerful and long-lasting marketing and brand equity that every company should strive for.
Guest posting has been around for a long time but it seems to be growing in popularity. So much so, that there are now entire web communities devoted to guest posting. My personal favorite is My Blog Guest, which is a site that originated as a forum were would-be guest posters could connect with blog owners and vice versa. They now have a “Pro” membership option that allows you to post your actual guest post so that blog owners can review it and decide if they want to post it on their blog.
Unfortunately, enterprise brands have struggled to tap into this particular marketing technique. For the most part, guest blog posts are the domain of individual bloggers. And the reason is simple; bloggers understand the blogging ecosystem and are better prepared to engage with other bloggers and take the step necessary to avoid guest posting failure. Moreover, I’m convinced that a sizeable portion of the enterprise-level marketing managers either don’t appreciate the full value of guest posting or are downright unfamiliar with the technique altogether.
The end result is precious few brands that are actually doing guest blog posting of any kind.
That said, I have had the opportunity to work with agency clients that have successfully implemented guest posting as part of a larger SEO and social media marketing strategy. Therefore, I figured I would share some insights gleamed from those successes in the hopes that a wayward marketing manager or two might stumble upon this post and find value and/or direction.
The first step is to develop a blogger outreach and engagement strategy. Some companies place the tactical execution of this strategy in the hands of their PR department (or agency) but I feel that this tactic is a better fit for your SEO link building specialist (or agency). And if you have the luxury of employing a dedicated social media specialist (or agency) then they’re likely a good candidate for this work as well.
What’s that? You don’t currently have anyone working on SEO link-building outreach or social media influencer engagement? Well, then you have your work cut out for you. Go get budget approval for one or both of these (SEO link building will likely be an easier sell) and then read this, this and this for tips on how to hire a real rock star as opposed to a dud.
The next step is to work with your specialist to develop a program for identifying influential bloggers in your particular business niche and to build out a project management methodology for engaging with these blogs (leaving comments, retweeting their content, etc) to build some level of social media karma, and then reaching out to said influencers to pitch guest posting ideas.
This will require that you spend some time brainstorming truly original, remarkable, and downright fascinating blog post ideas. It will also require that you source the actual copywriting. Some would recommend working with internal copywriters, the SEO/social specialist, or the PR provider, but I would actually suggest that you identify your company’s thought leaders and have them either write it or provide a rough draft or outline that you copywriter(s) can then fashion into a full-blown blog post. Also, if none of your copywriters have blog posting experience, then it might make sense to outsource the actual writing composition to someone that, you know, can actual write a blog post (as opposed to a sell sheet, press release, or marketing collateral).
Lastly, it makes sense to have the author credits for the guest post include the thought leader who came up with the concept or some predetermined member of the company as opposed to it being directly attributed to the brand itself. So for example, if Google wanted to get into the guest posting game, they would be better served to have the guest post bylines belong to Matt Cutts (with a subtle reference and link to the company that employs him) as opposed to just giving the author credits to “Google.”
Incidentally, if you’re representing a large brand, you’ll actually wield a big advantage over other less fortunate would-be guest posters. Firstly, your success rate will likely be higher since most bloggers will be tickled pink by the prospect of featuring a post from some high-profile brand. Secondly, your guest post can actually come in the form of an interview as opposed to conventional article format. Bloggers (and mainstream media for that matter) love to interview thought leaders from big brands. If you need proof, look no further than the aforementioned Matt Cutts and string of mini-interviews that he has engaged in (which almost always come with a mention and link to Google.com).
This is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of outlining the ins and outs of a successful guest posting strategy, but hopefully, it helps paint a rosier picture for marketing managers at big brands who are either unfamiliar with the concept or convinced that it’s just not a good fit for their big brand.
P.S. If you don’t have a big brand, but want one, guest posting can definitely help you get there, so the preceding post applies to you too.