Influencer Engagement: Progressing from the first date

Hi, I’m Annette, the SEO Manager for our Food division. I started at the Co-op last April and attended the annual ‘Christmas in July’ Press Event. I hadn’t met any of the product developers before, but I was blown away by their passion as they explained how and why each product had been carefully crafted.

And so, a few weeks later, I started on my first outreach campaign – eager to share these fabulous stories and products with the blogosphere. I remember sending out carefully constructed emails to chosen bloggers and… absolutely nothing. I couldn’t understand it, I thought that bloggers would be lining up to work with a brand as established as ours, but it turns out that we had never worked specifically with bloggers before.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to build a blogger database for the team. I knew that sending out a couple of products just wasn’t going to cut it, We didn’t just want a couple of random guest blog posts or product reviews. We needed a connection – a new way to work with bloggers that would produce advocates and partners – excited to work with us and enthusiastic about our brand… And so the Christmas blogger event was born.

That 1st event was compared to a first date – an exploratory evening for us to find out more about each other.
1. Co-op-Blogger-Event-Paul-Dempsey

We introduced them to our sumptuous food and drink, and they told us what their challenges were. The feedback from the event was very positive – some even said that it was one of the best blogger events of the year. Not bad for a 1st effort!

Blogger Event

We’ve been building on these relationships for a year – sending updates, hosting smaller events, including bloggers in campaigns and sending out occasional products for review. The invitations for this years Christmas event at 1AS on 27th November, went out last week and the response was amazing – RSVPs increased 300% over last year! Not only is this event bigger and better – there is more involvement from across the business than last year with PR, Food Digital Marketing, Food Product Developers, Taste Team and Sodexo in the trenches along with us in SEO and Social – working to bring it all together.

The panel of bloggers – taking questions from the audience at this year’s event will feature-

rsz_blogger_-_louise Louise Hegarty of birdsandlilies.com
Louise is a Parenting and Lifestyle Blogger from Nottingham. She’s been blogging since 2012, and it has a blossoming readership and a large social following. Lou has an honest and open writing style, and is happy to share her experiences of IVF, Parenting and life in general. She has a 3 year old daughter, and loves making lists, talking too fast and eating lots of cheese.

rsz_blogger_-_janeJane Arschavir of HodgePodgeDays.co.uk
Jane Arschavir has been blogging since June 2013. She stumbled into blogging following a life-changing injury and her blog grew from there. Jane writes about a whole range of topics (hence hodge-podge), and her hobbies include getting brain freeze from eating ice pops too quickly, writer’s block and shouting at the television.

 rsz_blogger_-_sianSian Russell from HelpfulMum.com
Siân’s blog has been established for over four years. She writes about parenting, days out, travel, food, product reviews, lifestyle and the Yorkshire Dales. She has presented at BlogCamp events on video editing techniques and YouTube. In July 2014, she graduated as a mature student in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and now manages a Bed & Breakfast in the Dales

We’re so excited! Keep your eyes open for the post-event round-up!

3. Co-op-Blogger-Event-Masterchef
We even had some extra special guests – Masterchef anyone?