I often see people on Twitter a little confused about how and why *some* bloggers get samples. There’s a big assumption that *all* blogger samples are sent by PR folk and are all sent for the same reason. I usually find that the assumption is that they’re sent the sample to review purely for brand awareness, but sometimes that isn’t the case. This blog post will roughly guide you through the four main ‘types’ of blogger sample, who they are sent by and why.
Please note that this isn’t a standard set-in-stone rule for all companies. This is based on my opinions from both working in blogger outreach for SEO and PR purposes, and also from obtaining samples to feature as a blogger. Lots of companies choose bloggers for samples in a different way and for different reasons! In previous jobs I have touched on all of the types of blogger outreach, but only specialised in it for SEO or PR purposes. So if anyone has anything more to add – as always pop it in the comment section.
Side note: If anyone tells you they know everything about SEO, PR, Social Media or blogger outreach they’re lying.
SEO Blogger Samples
So, lets start with the quickest one to explain. I work in SEO (search engine optimisation) and blogger outreach is part of my job. The reason we send bloggers products to feature is to build authority back to the website we are working on. The more links we get back from trusted websites, the more Search Engines trust the site, the higher it appears on Google (and other search engines, but Google is the focus). We cannot pay for reviews, links or features (which will use a followed link to our site) as this is against advertising regulations and ultimately Google will pick up on this and penalise us. Usually the samples are sent to boost the authority of a site or a brand when they notice competitor sites are ranking higher or there’s a new launch with a landing page they want Google to pick up. Although saying that, most SEO companies can have ongoing outreach to maintain SEO strategies.
How does an SEO Executive choose a blogger to work with?
We usually base this on Domain Authority of the blog, with the general rule of thumb being that we want to work with bloggers with a DA of 20 or above. You can read about that by heading to this previous post :here:
PR Blogger Samples
A PR (public relations) Executive would generally work with a blogger and send samples for launches of new products or to raise general brand awareness. You’ll find them to be much friendly and approachable than SEO types, as the idea of PR’s is to be the representative of the brand – being the fluffy side of outreach rather than the technical. But don’t get me wrong, SEO people are very nice too, it’s all down to the individual as it *is* a human at the other end of your email after all. PR’s are more used to liaising with press and media and it’s very schmoozy schmooze to get their press releases seen and brand heard. As they don’t look at the technical aspects like someone in SEO would, you will find that it’s much more free and easy with regards to bloggers they work with and will base their decision on discretion really.
How does an PR Executive choose a blogger to work with? When I worked in PR it was more to do with who would represent the brand the best, who would provide a nice tone of post and as shallow as it is, the blogs which were aesthetically pleasing stood out. Of course, social and blog following is an advantage and some (if not most) will also look at this.
Social Media Blogger Samples
This seems to be the one really getting bloggers goats at the moment, as there appears to be a wave of young bloggers buying Instagram followers, showcasing a number which doesn’t correlate with their other social media platforms – and brands are falling for it. Big brands working with bloggers who have (for example) 28k Insta followers (vs 2k Twitter 1k YouTube) and not picking up on the fact they’ve bought them. Yeah Instagram deleted fake accounts a few months ago but that’s not stopped dodgy companies setting up the accounts again as fast as they disappeared! Anyway, as you can see Social Media blogger samples are sent out for brand awareness more than anything and some brands will have ambassadors who will receive samples just to update their social accounts with pictures of. A much more subliminal way to get the brand out there.
How does a Social Media Exec choose a blogger to work with? Generally on the basis of social following and hopefully by taking the consistency of the follower numbers in to account and checking if these have been bought or not! Blog posts are an advantage and sometimes they will be part of an affiliate scheme too… Which leads me swiftly on to the next type of blog sample….
Affiliate Blogger Samples
Affiliate schemes are where a link is placed on a blog or website (as a no-follow link) and there is commission earned by the website host based on click throughs and sales to the brand website. Obviously, the more appealing the brand sounds, the more people will click through and convert in to a sale. The more people, the more sales, the more commission the blogger makes. Affiliates are sometimes bypassed with sample opportunities as their incentive is the commission they earn, but as mentioned, the more appealing the brand looks on their site the more beneficial it is so this is why they might get some samples to feature.
How does an Affiliate Scheme choose bloggers to work with? They will approach most blogs who’d like to monetise, so sometimes they will contact you but there are plenty to find which you can sign up for yourself. As mentioned, actually getting samples can be hit and miss from scheme to scheme, so don’t sign up for loads thinking you’ll instantly get a bag of swag!
So, that’s the BASICS, the way I understand it from both sides of the coin….
I hope that answers a few people’s questions and helps bloggers who are not aware to understand the way blogger samples are distributed. If you’re ever disheartened by missing out on a sample opportunity from a brand – don’t be! The person dealing with the outreach will have their reasons for not being able to work with you on that occasion. Act with grace and build your relationship up with the person representing the brands to stay on their radar for future opportunities. Nobody likes a sour grape.
It’s also worth remembering – brands don’t have endless budgets, they often only have a few samples sent by the distributor to dish out and bear in mind they can have up to 50 a bloggers a DAY contacting them. It’s a difficult job and believe me, most would love to work with EVERY blogger, but unfortunately they just can’t!
-Any other questions or input? Pop it in the comments below!-