Jul
29

What is a Virtual Blog Tour? How Do You Set One Up?

By on July 29th, 2010

Blog Ahead!Lynn Serafinn, book marketer, coach, campaign manager for #1 bestselling authors, explains all about Virtual Blog Tours, their many benefits and how to run one.

When I organise a book launch campaign for my author clients, I always include a Virtual Blog Tour. Every time I start a new campaign I am invariably asked, both by my clients and by their Joint Venture Partners (JVPs), “What exactly is a Virtual Blog Tour?” I thought it would be a good idea to write an article explaining what it is, and why it is a great promotional tool when properly organised.

What is a VBT?

A Virtual Blog Tour (VBT) is an online “event” wherein an author “visits” a different blog each day during a specified period of time, generally 2-4 weeks in duration. For instance, if your VBT were 2 weeks long, there would be 14 blogs, and each blogger would be assigned a specific day on the tour. In selecting blogs on which to appear, the author would seek out bloggers who have good traffic aimed at specific target audience(s) congruent with the topic of the book.

Technically, the author doesn’t “visit” these blogs. Rather, on the assigned tour day, the blogger would post a blog about the author’s book. Some blog platforms (such as WordPress) allow you to schedule a post in advance, making it more convenient for the blogger by automating the process.

The content of the blog could be an article about the author, a book review or an interview. When I organise a VBT, I generally prefer to use interviews, which are organised in advance between the blogger and author.

Organising a VBT

The way I organise the interview is to provide a good selection (10-20) of sample topics or story angles on which the author could answer questions. Then, each blogger provides (well in advance) 3 original questions he/she would like to ask the author, aimed at their particular reading audience.

Recently I designed a VBT for a book on the topic of OCD. Here are some of the sample topics I provided my bloggers:

  1. What OCD is and what it is not
  2. What doctors know or don’t know about OCD
  3. What parents need to know about OCD
  4. What teachers need to know about OCD
  5. Being a parent with OCD
  6. OCD in personal relationships
  7. Having OCD in a work environment
  8. OCD and health issues…

And so on.

When I send the sample topics to the VBT bloggers, I ask them to formulate 3 questions based upon a topic (or topics) they feel would be of greatest interest to their readers. The questions are sent to the author several weeks in advance of the tour. The author provides written answers to the bloggers’ questions, and together we assemble the “virtual interview” into a structured format, so the bloggers can more or less copy and paste it into their blogs (of course, they can edit it as they choose).

The format we provide the bloggers goes something like this:

“Today I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 4 of the Virtual Blog Tour for The Super Duper Book by author Mary Jones. Yesterday, Mary visited John Smith’s blog at [link to John’s blog]. Below is the great interview I did with Mary about how to be super-duper.

[Interview]

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Mary Jones and that you’ll check out The Super Duper Book by Mary Jones coming to Amazon on [date]. You can receive a collection of great gifts when you buy her book on the day of her launch, including one from me: [name of blogger’s gift]. To find out how to buy Mary’s book and receive these gifts, go to [link to author’s sales page].

Be sure to follow Mary tomorrow when the next stop on her Virtual Blog Tour is Charlie Brown’s blog at [link to Charlie’s blog].”

Promoting a VBT

When I organise a VBT, I create a “Tweet” for every stop on the tour, and give them to all bloggers and JVPs well in advance, asking them to post at least one update per blogger. That means, on their designated day on the tour, dozens of people would be sending out updates with a link to Mary’s blog post to potentially hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. (depending upon the size of your campaign team).

Additionally, the author would post the tour calendar, with all the links, on his/her own blog.

Being a blogger on a VBT has many benefits:
  1. It provides bloggers with easy, original content for their readers.
  2. Because an organised team of networkers is sending out updates for each stop on the tour, it has the potential to drive 1000s of new readers to each blog.
  3. It helps increase search engine rankings for the blogs, as the blog is linked to, both forwards and backwards, the other blogs on the tour.
  4. Bloggers on the tour get to connect with new bloggers who share common interests and speak to similar audiences.
Of course, for authors, a VBT is wonderful because:
  1. There is a diversity of content going out about their book during a concentrated period of time.
  2. The content is easy to create.
  3. It expands their network.
  4. They get their book promoted to 1000s of people every day for the duration of the tour.
  5. The content you have created could be reused for other purposes.

And don’t forget, if a blog post is particularly interesting, both the author and the blogger can “reTweet” about it every now and then after the tour.

I hope you found this information useful. Please do feel free to leave your questions or comments below. And if you would like to discuss setting up a book launch or VBT for your book, feel free to contact me via the contact form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact and tell me about your book project.


About Lynn Serafinn, Creator of Spirit Authors

Lynn Serafinn

LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

Twitter:
@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul

Facebook:

LynnSerafinn SpiritAuthors 7GracesOfMarketing 7 Graces Global Garden (group)

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Lynn,
    We met during the NTA Competition Round One. I has long been a dream of mine to interview others. I have a skill that allows others to become very comfortable with me and open up very quickly and easily.
    I have appeared many times in the media, TV, radio, print over the years.

    You can check samples of TV at this link and go to the video links:
    http://www.alisonsart.com/heirlooms_video.html

    My blog is at: http://www.MarketingBytesBlog.com

    Have a good vacation and look forward to speaking with you when you return.

    Sincerely,
    Alison Gilbert

  2. I love the idea of a virtual tour – who knows what adventures you’ll have along the way! It’s like setting yourself up for providence and synchronicity to do their amazing work.

    Also, your advice is underpinned with the importance of really getting organised when it comes to marketing and collaborating.

    Thanks for sharing this Lynn – you’ve sparked a lot of thinking/plotting/mapping…

  3. Pat Mallon says:

    Would you advise an author to schedule the VBT for before or after a book’s release? I see benefits and cons to both, so I am curious what you have experienced. Thanks!

  4. That’s a great question, Pat (and sorry I only saw this comment NOW…a year after you asked it!). I do VBTs before a book’s release only if I have some special launch activities planned (like a telesummit or other pre-launch activities) that I can lead people to through the VBT. Otherwise, doing it after the book is released makes perfect sense, and is often more logical, as you can send people directly to the sales page.

  5. Thanks Lynn! for writing article on this important topic as virtual Tour. I like it very much.

  6. […] to suit what you think would work best for your books and it can really help boost your sales. Click here for a link to an article explaining more about virtual blog […]

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