I've been part of the evolving blogger landscape for the past seven years. I've watched the marketing and PR industry dismiss then embrace the influence of the "every day mom" with a blog. And like all trends, many jump on the bandwagon without research or realizing what the ground rules are. Truthfully, the blogger space is still the wild west. Although some standards are bandied about, there is no definitive approach, quality control, or manual for brands and marketers to follow.
There is a reason why so many digital marketing budgets are being allocated to bloggers. It works. That is, it works when you have the right blogger, telling the right story, and providing the right stats to their clients after the fact. The problem is that many on both sides of this equation are not doing it properly. However well-intentioned, some marketers are not reaching out to bloggers properly or using these influencers' skills in a meaningful way. And some bloggers are sacrificing their credibility by not being true to their voice and values, or are not providing accurate reporting. In either case, this is a dysfunctional relationship that needs to be and can be improved.
YMC's business model depends on building relationships with brands and bloggers to create powerful, relevant, and shareable content that, first and foremost, resonates with our readers. I've spent years honing the systems and thought processes to make sure this happens seamlessly within YMC. And it still isn't easy.
(Although this is directed at those on the marketing side, bloggers will get a lot from this as well)
1. You're not checking your facts or taking the time to know the bloggers. Too many misdirected pitches are being sent out to bloggers that aren't relevant. Get to know each of the bloggers you're pitching to and send them thoughtful pitches that fit their niche. The best example of this is when a large maternity brand's PR company sent my 70-year-old mom a pitch to see their designer collection, while my friends at Oh Baby weren't contacted.
2. You're choosing quantity over quality. Rather than sending random mass pitches to strangers, you will have much more success by knowing the strengths and weakness, interests and passions of the influencers in the social space. You don't want to work with a blogger who is inauthentic and not respected online. And I can assure you, influencers who are worth anything won't respond to a mass blast.
3. You want something for nothing. I get the strategy...blast the entire blogging community with a pitch and hope that a few pick it up. The problem with this strategy is that you always get what you pay for—which is little or no value. Those bloggers who will write about anything to get on your good side probably have very little influence in the social space. Wouldn't it make more sense to spend some money and engage with more valuable partners? Bloggers who put value in their work usually have experience and understand their worth.
4. You're not actively managing, so you're being played. If you aren't paying bloggers to work for you, then you can't ask them for reporting, now, can you? But if you don't have proper reporting, how can you value the campaign you're building? It's up to the marketers to be knowledgeable in the social space and be able to list the statistics required from the influencer (click-throughs, RTs, repins, impressions, etc.). Marketers need to create their internal requirements and share with influencers who participate in campaigns. Similarly, bloggers need to be able to create professional wrap up reports if they expect to be paid.
5. You're loving them and leaving them. Working with influencers is predicated on creating a relationship. Flipping them the occasional "ask" doesn't create a relationship. Taking the time to really connect with the bloggers is good business. And creating long term opportunities with your brand and a blogger works on so many levels. You create an actual working relationship with influencers who you've researched and you know are a good fit. And from a social point of view, their followers see consistent connection with your brand, which implies authenticity and true engagement with your brand, rather than a quickie.
Are you looking to work with bloggers? We've put together an entire section on our site with the #YMCCommunity—some of Canada's top influencers who we work with on an ongoing basis. Feel free to peruse this section and contact any of these bloggers directly. Tell them Erica sent you :)
This is such an important and timely topic for bloggers and brands. Feel free to download this powerpoint I created on The Five Things You're Probably Doing Wrong with Bloggers.
Want to talk more about this with me? Let me know. I'm happy to share my expertise and grow my relationship with you :)