Ten years ago, all of the big brands were using high budget celebrities to market and promote their products. These days, you’re much more likely to see a completely different type of brand ambassador at the helm; and you’ve probably never heard of them.
What we’re referring to here is the rise of the blogger.
Engaging with bloggers is a growing trend and is an increasingly integral part of online marketing and digital strategy. Brands who’ve yet to get in the ring risk falling behind and appearing irrelevant in the eyes of customers. So how do you work with bloggers, and how can it benefit you? Read on to find out.
If you’re new to the world of blogging, let’s recap. Bloggers post online about their specific niche or industry, for example beauty or cooking, and combine frequent and original content with a distinct tone of voice to amass a number of followers interested in their area.
This makes them a prime target for brands. Say you run a B&B, and as part of your content strategy you’ve identified a particular blogger who gets 30,000 unique web hits to their travel blog a month. By reaching out to this blogger and offering them a complimentary stay or meal at your B&B in exchange for a blogpost detailing their experience, you expose your business to those 30,000 captive and relevant readers.
In last week’s post, we touched on the importance of integrating your SEO and PR strategies. Now more than ever, it’s important to use PR tactics to get people talking about you in order to gain those all-important back links and improve your search rankings. A great way to do this is through the use of influencers.
Traditionally, PR specialists have engaged with journalists to spread the word about a brand and put a positive story out into the industry space. Now we’re in the digital age, bloggers are the new media – only they’re independent and have distinct personalities, as well as hordes of dedicated followers.
Unlike with the traditional press, blog readers get to know their favourite bloggers personally by reading daily updates on their lives, interests and relationships. Therefore, they are much more likely to make purchases and buying decisions based on their favourite blogger’s advice or recommendations.
The essential element here is trust – unlike celebrities, bloggers are seen more as friends, as normal people audiences can relate to. Our recent post on the rise of Youtubers touched on the influential nature of “vloggers” (video bloggers), whose success is owed to their normality and relatability.
Working alongside bloggers not only means you’ll have some influential new PR advocates, but they’ll be doing a lot of the content heavy-lifting for you, too. Blogposts on third party websites, especially relevant and authoritative blogs, can do wonders for your backlink profile and therefore search rankings.
Our recent post on Google’s search algorithm updates discussed how useful, authentic and relevant content is rewarded above all else by search engines. Working with others in your industry to proactively create even more shareable content and buzz around your brand benefits not only your image, but your SEO, too.
Aligning with the right blogger can help bring your product to life. So, the more followers the better, right? Not exactly – hold on just a second before you start going after Zoella or Alfie Deyes. The kind of blogger you work with will depend largely on your industry, goals and budget.
The best partnerships are the ones born from mutual interests. For example, if you offer industrial cleaning and approach a beauty or fashion blogger, it doesn’t matter how many followers they have or how much money you spend – you’re unlikely to see much return on investment as your product just won’t be relevant to their audience. Instead, select the area you’d like to pursue and concentrate on prolific bloggers in that space.
If you’re a small to medium business and don’t have a budget of hundreds of thousands, you’re better off identifying a group of up-and-coming bloggers with just a couple of thousand followers. As well as being cheaper to work with, they’re more likely to work independently rather than under a management company, so you’ll both have more control over the creative direction of your partnership. The blogger you choose also reflects on you and your brand, so make sure your values and interests are similar before starting out.
There are many examples of brands who have successfully identified and worked with bloggers. Fashion brand Uniqlo recently commissioned a number of emerging fashion bloggers to create content around their collaboration with designer Celia Birtwell, effectively expanding their reach into a younger, more fashion-savvy demographic (Take a look at a sample post here).
Another innovative method of working with bloggers comes from electronics giant Samsung, and their well-conceived “Bloggers Challenge” running from August – December 2014. Open to tech bloggers in South Africa, the challenge involves partaking in a series of quirky tasks, such as preparing a list of meals using just a microwave. Obviously, all challenges must be captured using a Samsung Galaxy 4 phone and uploaded to that blogger’s personal blog or channel. This activity increases Samsung’s share of voice and also supports digital content in South Africa.
We can see here that at the core of a successful blogging partnership are shared values and trust. When choosing bloggers and approaching them with ideas, keep in mind that the content you produce should be beneficial for them, as well as you. In this way, you can build a valuable community, as well as a profitable partnership.