Finding the unicorns, um, I mean bloggers

Building a Vultee Vengeance dive bomber circa 1939 (courtesy Library of Congress on Flickr Commons)This is a combined post written with Troy Thompson of Travel2Dot0, my co-presenter at the excellent, wide-ranging eTourism Summit.

We spoke together about blogger outreach at the conference and here are a few of our follow-up thoughts….

Troy, on things to consider before working with a blogger

As part of my eTourism Summit schedule, one fateful session had me teamed with the America’s Blogger, Sheila Scarborough [ note from me – Troy says that this is like America’s Team, but that I don’t throw interceptions. 🙂 ] 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 they 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.


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?


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 [complimentary hotel] 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.

Me, on growing a blogger network, or Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty

I can’t claim credit for the “dig your well” idea – it’s the title of a book by Harvey Mackay – but when it comes to building a network of online connections and resources, it is definitely true.

(Head over to Troy’s blog to read my unicorn blogger advice….)

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This entry was posted in Blogs, Meetings and Conferences, Reaching out to bloggers and travel media, Travel and Travel Media, Web Communications and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Finding the unicorns, um, I mean bloggers

  1. Good stuff Sheila, thanks for collaborating with me on this article.

    And a quick lesson for everyone, if you make a joke about the Dallas Cowboys in an email to a writer, expect it to be published. Ha!

    – Troy
    Troy Thompson´s last [post] ..Finding the unicorns, um, I mean bloggers.

  2. Sheila says:

    Hi Troy,

    So, I think I totally messed this up – I now realize that I was supposed to run just your part on here, while you ran my part on your Travel2Dot0 post. Instead I ran both of ours on here, so now my part’s in two places.

    This seems sorta piggy.

    I’m gonna go up there into the post and whack around to try to fix it.

    Meantime, we’d both better make Page One for “unicorns AND bloggers.” 🙂

  3. Great post! As a marketing manager by day and travel blogger and social media enthusiast in every other free moment of my life, I’m always analyzing these partnerships that seem to come about. Some perfect matches, others you can tell the selection was made based on stats alone or some other arbitrary metric.

    I’ll be speaking on a similar topic at a social media and tourism conference in Verona in a few weeks. Also hope to connect with you at Blog World Expo!
    April D. Thompson (@AbsoluteADT)´s last [post] ..My Favorite Place(s) on Earth

  4. Sheila says:

    Thanks, April, and see you in LA!

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