After I calmed down from being attacked by a random sparrow (it was a really, REALLY big sparrow, ok?), the topic of conversation turned to Vanessa launching her new blog this week (uh, at least that's the plan), Nine by Blue.
We were discussing proper and effective tactics to use for promoting new blogs and I made the mention that bloggers could take a lesson from actors, writers and musicians when they launch a new blog as far as promotional tactics. We discussed the similarities and while most are in tune with launching a brand new blog, most of these tactics can be effective for any website.
Promos and Trailers
Long before their newest album is complete or the movie is even 1/8 of the way to completing shooting, Studios and record labels are releasing movie trailers or plastering bookstores with posters advertising their impending release.
Bloggers can use this too by starting to “promo” a website before it's fully completed. Add a blurb about your new site to the bottom of your latest blog post. Brian Clark was hyping people up to his impending launch of Lateral Action at the end of his Copyblogger posts (and possibly others) long before the website was launched.
Vanessa was using Nine by Blue branding on presentations with a link to her feed while the website was still in development. Lisa Barone let you know she might be blogging on her own domain before she ever even wrote a post.
Being in development certainly hasn't stopped anyone from developing links and buzz in traditional media, and it shouldn't stop webmasters either. Just be sure to remember that there is a difference between hype and buzz. You want to develop the latter and not the former.
Every time a starlet has a new movie at the box office or a band has a new album on the shelves, they start making the “guest appearances” rounds. And while they definitely aim for the highest exposure possible, like daytime television shows or late night TV, they don't pass up radio appearances, autograph appearances and local newspaper or magazine interviews either.
Bloggers can get “guest appearances” by doing guest posts, offering interviews if their name or company name is recognizable, doing podcast or internet radio appearances and any other opportunity to put their new blog in front of people. Aim high but don't overlook low hanging fruit either. When you're just starting out, even a blog with only 100 people reading it offers you access to 100 people you're not currently reaching.
For more established blogs, a general rule of thumb might be that anyone with more subscribers than you or a different, but related, market you're not currently reaching is worth working to obtain a “guest appearance” on.
Sponsorships and Buzz Events
I've seen plenty of instances where video games or movies will sponsor larger events or create specific buzz events (many might call them launch parties) aimed at gaining interest. For instance, the video game “Gears of War 2” recently sponsored UFC 91, whose fan base is heavily comprised of their target market.
Bloggers can do the same thing by stepping up to sponsor a contest in their target market â€“ even if they're completely new to the scene. Buzz events many times, to me anyway, can be correlated to “link bait”â€¦ if I'm going to launch a blog, I'm going to make sure I have a few really strong and very well done “buzz pieces” ready to go with the aim of getting
social media attention and being put in front of potential readers.
The words “link bait” tend to have a negative connotation online, but I see no difference between a “buzz event” offline and a piece of “link bait” online. Both are lame when done wrong and can be amazingly effective when done right.
A “Street Team” is best defined by Wikipedia:
“In many cases, an influential teen referred to as a neighborhood “tastemaker” was sought out or pinpointed by a record label to be used as a conduit to their respective neighborhood, due to their stronger influence over other teens that looked to them for “what's hot” or “what's the next hot thing”. The tastemaker was directed to create a team on the streets to make an unsigned music artist more popular through word-of-mouth and hype.”
Replace “influential teen” with “popular or semi-popular bloggers” and you'll quickly see that a Street Team is equivalent to an offline Linkerati. Instead of writing posts that are distributed to followers via an RSS reader, they create buzz about events by plastering the streets with posters and talking to everyone they come into contact with to promote the band.
“Usually unpaid, street teams for bands and artists are still often comprised of teenagers who are rewarded with free band merchandise or show access in exchange for a variety of actions.”
Street teams place stickers and posters in their communities while the Linkerati put up buttons and badges promoting your blog. Street teams bring friends to the shows while the Linkerati sends links of your first few initial kick ass posts to friends or in round up posts.
Street teams convince friends to buy band merchandise while the Linkerati convinces people to sign up for your blog RSS feed. Street teams phone your local radio station to request the band's songs be played while the Linkerati submits your posts to social media websites and send around the link to friends they know have accounts.
Street teams bring vinyl and CDs to local DJs in the clubs where they work while the Linkerati link to your blog from larger websites they may do columns for. Street teams put up posters while the Linkerati showcases you and your blog via individual blog posts. Street teams post to band forums and bulletin boards online while the Linkerati do the same.
Street teams can make (or break) many bands and the Linkerati can do the same. Bloggers can rally the people they know love their content or their product offerings and organize them via personal emails to be their street team on the web. If you're starting out with no contacts, then you might consider finding services that connect you with a “street team” (you'd just better be sure you have something worth promoting before you do).
If you have any other legit techniques for promoting a brand new blog, feel free to add to the list below. And if you liked this post, be a member of my street team and pass it on. ;-)