How To: Evaluate and Select Bloggers


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As part of my eTourism Summit schedule, one fateful session had me teamed with America’s Blogger, Sheila Scarborough.  Never one to pass up an opportunity to express myself, nor is Sheila, we decided to take a couple of themes and thoughts from our presentation and through the magic of the internets, turn them into an article.

Sheila is covering relationships, I am covering evaluation.  Two posts for the price of one.

How To: Evaluate and Select Bloggers

It was a popular question during our recent eTourism Summit presentation: How do I evaluate bloggers?  Or, more specifically, how can I tell the good bloggers from the freeloaders?

An excellent question and one that everyone in the tourism space will eventually deal with.  While the correct answer is based upon your needs and goals (sorry), I do have a few tips on how to evaluate and select the right blogger.  Used in conjunction with other sources these tips should provide the foundation for your own blogger evaluation algorithm.

Google Analytics

Yeah, numbers.  Start here.  The numbers will not tell you a whole lot.  Frankly, audience size should not be a top priority…quality over quantity, right?…but asking for Google Analytics will provide two clues about the blogger.  1) Are the willing to share statistics.  And 2) do they have statistics.  If the answer for either question is no, then you can move this candidate to the bottom of your list.

Klout

Ah, Klout.  Half of you just cursed out loud, while the rest of you are frantically Googling the word Klout.  The social ranking system has strong supporters and loud detractors, but it does provide another piece of your blogger evaluation puzzle.  Check the score.  Again, this is just a basic test.  Klout of 5?  Red flag.  Klout of 54, continue the evaluation investigation.

Writing Style

Take the time to read the writer’s work.  And not just the most recent post.  The first post, the most popular most, a random post.  Understand their perspective, writing style and technique.  Does it fit with your brand, goals or campaign?  Does the blogger tell a complete story.  Do they use images, video and other content to complete the narrative.  Is it a good story?  Check, check, check…okay, let’s keep moving.

Being Social

Yes, we already looked at the Klout score, but that is not the end of the social investigation.  Klout can be fooled.  Look on the blog, are social network icons present?  Are they active on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.?  Do they promote their writing via these channels?  Are they actively communicating…and, are readers communicating back?  Are there comments on the blog posts?  Does the blogger respond?  How social are they?  You want someone who will carry your message and story beyond a single web page.  You are hiring a digital advocate for your brand.  The question is, are they an advocate?

Network

Going a step beyond just being social, you need to know who they are social with.  A bit selfish on your part, but hey, a comp room is a comp room.  Is the blogger talking with other bloggers?  Are those bloggers or writers potential connections for another story about your destination?  What about building their network.  Is the blogger active in Twitter chats or Facebook groups?  What about on Disqus?  Is there an opportunity to not only benefit from the direct network of this blogger, but their indirect network as well?  Yes.  Perfect. Comp ‘em that room.

While our five tips are a great start, they are just that, a start.  Your goals are likely different from a retail store, internet start-up or another destination and therefore your evaluation criteria should be different as well.

But, as long as you are researching against goals…and not looking for a quick Klout rating…the right blogger is just a tweet away.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.