Sure, those who want to get their destination, hotel or business in front of travel bloggers can email-bomb whichever ones have high Klout/social influence scores, or they can buy a list of blogger names from some company and email-bomb them that way …. or instead, how about a return to the good old-fashioned PR work of building relationships by showing that you care about what your “target audience” (I HATE that phrase) cares about?
It’s like any market you’re trying to reach: go hang out where they hang out, and support their causes and interests. That’s how you’ll learn who the “players” are in a community, not by sifting through Klout scores.
Once you find likely prospects, get to know them on their blog and other social media channels. Leave comments on their blog posts. Talk to them on Twitter. Like their Facebook Page updates and Flickr photos. Enough with the email, already!
This applies whether you are interested in reaching general service-type travel blogs like The Vacation Gals, niche ones like Writing Horseback for equestrian vacations and My Itchy Travel Feet for Baby Boomers or more narrative travel work like Nerd’s Eye View.
Here are four ways to learn the travel blogger landscape in a natural, human way that might be more effective than email cold-calling:
Find Travel Bloggers on Twitter
Follow and participate in popular travel hashtags on Twitter where travel bloggers congregate and converse. Some are conference hashtags and some are year-round travel discussions:
—>> #TBEX — TBEX stands for Travel Blog Exchange, which is a travel community website, a hashtag for travel info and a conference hashtag. No set times, always busy, becomes very active right before, during and after TBEX conferences. @TBEXevents community managers monitor the #TBEX hashtag; if you want to participate, it’s pretty wide open, but keep tweets non-spammy and travel-related.
—>> #TTOT — Travel Talk on Twitter, a chat that occurs twice each Tuesday, 9:30 AM and 9:30 PM Greenwich Mean Time – here’s the #TTOT Facebook Page
—>> #TNI — Traveler’s Night In, Thursdays, 3:30 – 5:00 PM ET. Here’s the Twitter account for hosts ZipSetGo
—>> #travelmassive — An event hashtag for one of the worldwide Travel Massive travel enthusiast meetups.
—>> TBU (various) — The Travel Bloggers Unite events have all been in Europe so far, but there is talk of expansion. Each conference has a hashtag; for example TBU at World Travel Market in London was #TBUWTM. Follow @tbloggersunite
—>> (Bonus!) #FriFotos — Not purely for travel, but very popular with travelers nonetheless, the #FriFotos photo theme changes every week and it’s a good way to find excellent photographers who are also bloggers. Host @EpsteinTravels announces the theme every Tuesday for that Friday.
Find Travel Bloggers Offline at Events
Go to travel blogging conferences. Yes, bloggers gather offline. A lot. You should gather with them!
—>> TBEX. This has become the 800 lb gorilla of travel blogging events, especially after it was bought by New Media Expo/BlogWorld. The 2012 North American event in Colorado had around 700 registrants (my Tourism Currents training business was a sponsor,) the 2013 TBEX North America conference is in Toronto in early June and TBEX Europe 2013 is in Dublin in October.
—>> Travel Bloggers Unite. Usually in Europe, smaller than TBEX (but they like it that way.)
—>> Travel Massive. Informal meetups worldwide.
—>> Darren Cronian. Run by Darren Cronian of the UK-based consumer blog Travel Rants, this evening gathering in a pub during World Travel Market in London is always good for acerbic British humor combined with no-holds-barred discussion and debate. Very lively #tbcamp hashtag during the event; must be the pints. In 2012 it was respected MidEast travel writer Matthew Teller giving the assembled a piece of his mind on blogger quality standards. The thin-skinned are easily bruised, but the feedback is refreshingly honest.
Get to Know Travel Bloggers Through Their Causes
Check out the bloggers participating in Passports with Purpose, the annual travel blogging community fundraiser in late November/early December.
A small group of Seattle-based travel bloggers started out to raise US$2,500 for Heifer International in 2008; when they blew past that and raised US$7,400 instead, they knew they were onto something.
Each year, #PwP works with a different charity to raise money for a specific, very concrete cause. A school in Cambodia. Libraries in Zambia. A village in India. Wells in Haiti. Participating travel bloggers each host a donated travel-related prize on their blog, and people bid in US$10 increments for a chance at each one.
There is all sorts of discussion and buzz around the “catalog” of prizes and the bloggers involved, including social media attention and print media coverage.
I’ll be hosting a prize on this blog that was generously donated by a CVB, and you can bet they’ll get traffic and attention because I’ll pull out all the stops to make it happen.
Listen to Bloggers Talking to Bloggers
Find some very unique voices in the travel writer interview series on Travel Writing 2.0, the companion website to a modern how-to book on travel writing, written by Tim Leffel (disclosure: Tim is my editor at the Perceptive Travel Blog.)
Just when I think I kinda know everyone in the current travel blogger/travel writer scene, Tim pops up an interview with someone new (who probably hasn’t been inundated with pitches and might be much more inclined to get to know you.)
Another consistently interesting group of bloggers and online travel folks show up on the This Week In Travel podcast; I’m flattered to have been a guest in the past.
Is all of this a lot of work? Yes.
Do strong relationships built for the long haul provide more value? Yes.
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