Should Your Business Work with Bloggers?
The blogging industry has well and truly exploded over the past five years, and the nature of blogs have evolved dramatically since they first began appearing back in the 1990s. Blogs have come from somewhat humble beginnings, once an activity of leisure, a way of recording and sharing your thoughts and passions; blogging is now considered a legitimate career choice.
Blogging has undoubtedly changed the marketing and PR game; where the industry was once considered a mysterious realm, smart businesses and marketers have been leveraging the reach and influence that bloggers have. For some businesses, working with bloggers who attract their target audience is a more profitable strategy than chasing ‘top tier’ placements such as national press.
One of the reasons that working with bloggers provides a better return is the trust that they have built with their followers. Generally, bloggers are not tied to one company, and they are perceived to be honest and less biased. It’s this honest approach that leads them to gain credibility, so in order to maintain their audience, they will continue providing authentic insights, posts and reviews.
Of course, this presents an issue if the blogger that you are working with doesn’t like your brands offering. However, the majority of bloggers that I have come into contact with, all commented that in these instances, they have contacted the brand to let them know that they won’t be featuring the product and explain why. While this may present (an often minimal) loss to the business, in the long run it serves to protect your brand. Imagine if a negative review was written on a platform that your target audience engage with? Not out of spite, but in the name of honesty.
Victoria Sully who runs LyliaRose explains further -“I have been in the position whereby I was sent an item and didn’t post the review; it was a DIY natural cleanser and toner and I reacted badly to it. I emailed the company to tell them and never received a response - I prefer to keep my blog as things I’d use and recommend so I don’t post negative reviews. I also believe that the brand would have wanted me to review the product based on my experience. I’ve worked really hard to build my blog, writing well thought out articles that I hope are useful. I also share them to my Twitter following which I’ve spent several years growing. It’s also evergreen advertising for companies.”
Blogs are the modern version of ‘word of mouth’ marketing. A staggering 84% of consumers purchase products or services after reading about them on a blog. Consider your target audience; the likelihood is that they fall into the age bracket (18-34) of individuals that rank blogs as one of their top sources of information when purchasing an item. People are now snubbing their family and friends for reviews and advice, and instead turning to blogs.
Richard Lecount from USB Makers shares his experience, “We’ve worked with bloggers on many occasions, and mostly had positive experiences. All of the reviews that we have had posted on the products were great, but there have been issues when reviews weren’t posted and communication ceased or posts were uploaded far later than agreed. Although not ideal, it means that we make our process better for future work with bloggers, or who to avoid!”
Despite the rumours that SEO is dead, and being replaced by content marketing – it isn’t. Let’s just say that it’s a far more symbiotic relationship rather than two separate entities. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the basics of SEO, getting natural and authoritative links to your website can aid its rankings. Of course, this means that you have some homework to do before embarking on blogger outreach. When a blogger who is externally considered to be influential includes your company and offering in a post and links back to your site it’s considered by Google as a sign of authority. As well as improving your SEO, it makes it far easier for their following to access your website.
Many bloggers are being accustomed to calling themselves ‘influencers’ in order to make themselves more attractive to brands. Blogger, influencer – whatever they are calling themselves, it’s important that they hit some essential criteria; does their following fall into your target demographic? If ‘no’, then move on. Do they review similar products or services? If your product doesn’t fit with their usual activity, this will look unnatural. Do they have a substantial social following and is the following actively engaging with them? This will indicate if people are taking notice of what they say. Do their posts attract comments and shares? See previous. Is there blog well designed, professional looking and does it have good metrics? All helps with the technical aspects of SEO.
These are all questions that you should have answers to before you begin negotiating with your chosen bloggers. And to ensure both parties hold up their end of the agreement, it’s not uncommon for contracts to be used, but this of course, is at your discretion.
Senior PR executive, Jerome Foucart offers some words of wisdom, “It’s not about quantity, but quality, and no two bloggers are the same. I have to say that a vast majority of the blogger campaigns that didn’t perform as well as expected, were ones conducted in the early days of blogger engagement, when the rules were a little unclear. Over time one becomes more accustomed to the dos and don’ts, you learn what it takes to form great and profitable relationships with this particular audience, and as a result, your ROI increases.”
As the digital realm, has exploded, managing your brand’s reputation has become increasingly difficult. Any negative reviews of your business need to be combatted with an avalanche of positive and informative ones. Implementing a blogger campaign that results in glowing reviews can help to push down any negative search results that a Google search returns.
Bloggers inarguably play a key role in both marketing strategies and consumer purchase behaviour. It’s important that brands are creative in their approach to utilise the ways that they can leverage bloggers and raise their online brand profile.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Rebecca Moore .