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Tap into influencer marketing: 4 bloggers discuss best practices for brands

Tap into influencer marketing: 4 bloggers discuss best practices for brands

We think influencer marketing is going to be big in 2017, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to talk to 4 bloggers, to get the inside scoop around working with bloggers, how they see the blogger landscape changing, and some top tips to help your brand fully-leverage influencer marketing for your 2017 digital marketing strategy.

laura hadley blogger

Laura Hadley | www.laurahadley.co.uk

Laura, what 3 tips would you give to brands looking to work with bloggers like yourself?

  1. See how a collaboration can benefit you both - if you're looking to advertise a product for example, why would they want to show it off? If it's something you cannot give in return for advertising (say a lipstick), then you need to offer a payment otherwise it's free advertising.

  2. Have a good mix of being professional and also like a friend. The best brands to work with are chatty, friendly and are clear what they're looking for.

  3. Be flexible with your requirements. A blogger may not have a Domain Authority of 20 or 10,000 combined followers but if their photos are stunning and their writing is grammatically correct that sounds professional, give them a try. Followers doesn't necessarily equate to quality of blog posts.

Which brands do you think are utilising influencer marketing correctly?

L'Oréal Paris allow you to create posts about their products when working with them in whichever way you want. They don't require certain links or phrases when you collaborate in order to give you the creative freedom they are looking for. Some other brands that do this are Urban Decay, Seventeen Cosmetics and Makeup Revolution.

Do you think that declaring sponsored content is important to your readers?

A thousand times yes. The Advertising Standards Agency say:

“ADS MUST BE CLEARLY IDENTIFIABLE AS SUCH. PUT SIMPLY, A BLOGGER WHO IS GIVEN MONEY TO PROMOTE A PRODUCT OR SERVICE HAS TO ENSURE READERS ARE AWARE THEY’RE BEING ADVERTISED TO. “

So to cut it short, it doesn't matter whether you personally think you should, because you have to.

How do you see the blogger landscape developing in the future?

I think firstly we will see a huge influx of new bloggers who have seen bloggers and vloggers rise to fame, which isn't a bad thing as long as they're doing it for the right reasons. We will see more paid for content, given that a lot of brands see us bloggers or 'influencers' as we are now called, having more of an impact than regular TV advertising. I believe full time bloggers will be on the rise (including myself) as more brands are working with bloggers and therefore there will be more budget for bloggers to concentrate their time solely on their content.

How important is it that the brand/product you’re collaborating with fits with your audience?

Incredibly important. I wouldn't expect my beauty readers to want to view a post that was all about car maintenance, just as I wouldn't expect my fashion readers to view a post on parenting. Some readers will read topic on the blog and some will on read lifestyle posts for example. I wouldn't advise bloggers to take every opportunity that is thrown at them as you're trying to encourage your regular readers to keep reading, not solely focusing on new readers coming in.

bianca bass blogger

Bianca Bass | www.biancabass.com

When brands want to work with your blog, which approach is least likely to get your attention, and which is a ‘hard to refuse’ opportunity?

Interesting question! I'm not a fan of vague emails. It can be frustrating when a brand enquires about a sponsored post, but gives no details about the opportunity. For example, I received an email only a few days ago with the subject line "sponsored post opportunity", but the email itself didn't go into any detail other than asking for my media kit. It left me thinking: what exactly is the request here? Social posts and a blog post? A feature in my newsletter? All of the above? Gathering stats and up to date follower counts can, understandably, feel like a lot of effort for something that may not have any pay off! On the other hand, I love when brands seem genuinely excited about the opportunity of working together and that enthusiasm follows through in their email. If they include details and describe exactly what they had in mind, that's even better. 

What 3 tips would you give to brands looking to work with bloggers like yourself? 

Know our audience (if a brand hasn't done their research, it shows). Get to the point (rather than having several emails back and forth, try and provide as much information as you can in your initial email). Be upfront (if you have a budget in mind, my advice would be to mention it in your initial email if you can! Why? Because, if it's for the right brand, I'll always consider negotiating to accommodate your budget).

Do you think that declaring sponsored content is important to your readers?

It depends. If the whole post is sponsored, yes. However, if a brand is simply paying to be featured as part of a list post e.g. "10 of the best productivity apps", then I'm happy to include them subtly without declaring the recommendation is in fact sponsored.

How do you see the blogger landscape developing in the future? 

In 2017, I think we're going to see a shift towards quality over quantity when it comes to influencer content. Brands will smarten up to the fact that you make much more of an impact by working with a smaller, but targeted audience than a huge, impenetrable one. Engagement over everything, basically.

Nathan Stowe blogger

Nathan Stowe | www.manporium.com

When brands want to work with your blog, which approach is least likely to get your attention, and which is a ‘hard to refuse’ opportunity?

First and foremost, for me, it has to be personal, and it absolutely can't seem like a blanket email that's just gone out to every man and his dog in a game of numbers approach. As much as if I'm pitching a brand, I will always do my homework, try to include key elements central to their brand in my covering letter, and really show that I'm not just another blogger, I expect the same in return.

PRs/Brands need to make it feel special, like they have specifically picked your blog, have spent time reading it and understanding what makes you tick.

Finally, the most appealing to me is the idea of collaboration and partnerships. The opportunity to have a two-way process and really be creative is a great one!

What 3 tips would you give to brands looking to work with bloggers like yourself?

1) Read my blog, and directly mention a piece (hopefully with a compliment!) when you get in touch.
2) Be clear if you have budget available, and do it up front
3) Do your homework - make sure your brand fits with the blogger you're approaching

Do you think that declaring sponsored content is important to your readers?

I do, but I don't actually feel as strongly about it as some. I think if the piece is all your own work, and if you have the integrity that says you'll only work with brands you like, would work with for free (if required), and would buy their products of your own volition, then I don't think it's so critical.

I think declaring sponsored posts is most important when you really are just regurgitating info, or it's particularly disparate with your normal voice or subject matter. Then, in a way, the disclaimer is a pretty open and honest way of saying "Look, guys, we all need money, and I'm no different.", though for me personally, this just would never fit with the way that I work or like to work with brands.

How do you see the blogger landscape developing in the future?

I think the blogging landscape has to hit some sort of plateau in the future - we can't simply keep seeing the same level of growth in the number of accounts. Over time, I think that those with the best content will continue to grow, taking market share (and readers) from those doing less well.  Whilst not evenly distributed, there are a huge number of bloggers all around a 2,000 to 4,000 follower level. Over time, I expect this to skew farm more heavily towards the top end, as more and more people gravitate towards those bloggers with the best content, and those at the lower end losing followers.

rachel spiteri blogger

Rachel Spiteri | www.beautyandthebird.co.uk

When brands want to work with your blog, which approach is least likely to get your attention, and which is a ‘hard to refuse’ opportunity? 

An approach along the lines of 'please feature our products in return for high-res images or to be in the chance of winning something' is least likely to get my attention - especially if the company/product is irrelevant to my blog. A hard to refuse opportunity for me is one where the company is highly relevant to my blog (beauty/fashion) and samples are provided for me to photograph/review or payment is offered in return for my time.

What 3 tips would you give to brands looking to work with bloggers like yourself?

  1. To appreciate that a lot of time and work goes into creating a blog post - don't always expect free promotion. 
  2. Avoid saying anything along the lines of 'we've had better blogs than yours ask us for a lot less to promote our product on their blog'
  3. It's always a good idea to approach blogs that are somehow related to the product you are trying to promote - research the blog before contacting the blogger. It saves a lot of time in the long run for both parties.

What is your stance on a sponsored post – are you for or against?

I'm all for sponsored posts that are relevant to the blog - and it helps when a blog has a good balance of sponsored and non-sponsored posts on their blog.

How important is it that the brand/product you’re collaborating with fits with your audience?

Very important - it's hardly worth having a post up on your blog that doesn't interest either you or your audience.

So there you go! Tips direct from 5 influencers. If you need help trying to reach the right bloggers for your brand, don’t hesitate to get in touch and find out how we can help your business!

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