The In-Crowd close
If there’s one trend we’re certain of for 2014, it’s the importance of relevant, authentic content. Since Google’s Algorithm began to place more value on quality, brands are recognising the importance of an honest user review, over that of a traditional celebrity endorsement or advertising slot.
‘Blogger’ or ‘influencer’ outreach programmes are ultimately about building relationships with key influencers in your market with the aim of earning increased follower loyalty. Whereas in the past, marketing projects would be split into distinct categories of PR, SEM, social and content, we now find that clients are looking for a fuller approach that incorporates aspects of each discipline, something that blogger or influencer outreach programmes are well suited to.
Some of the key strategies of blogger or influencer outreach programmes can include:
‘Gifting’ a product to a series of bloggers or influencers with the hope of gaining product reviews
Approaching a brand advocate to gain feedback and advice on a new product or service
Creating a blogger launch event for a new product or service
Providing remuneration in exchange for a link or written feature
Building relationships with bloggers to gain earned media
Launching competitions or polls where bloggers create content in order to participate
As consumers, we’re much more cynical than we once were and influencer outreach is a much more holistic way for brands to encourage buying habits and improve brand recognition through a voice that the consumer knows and trusts. With the growth of this market, the musings of a stay at home Mum or beauty-crazed ‘Girl Next Door’ have become a source of authority, their websites a place where consumers will regularly turn and revisit, for ideas on their next purchase.
So why might this be an effective marketing tactic for your brand?
Relationships with celebrities can be fickle. How quickly do we see a singer or child TV star turn Hero to Zero after a few simple misdemeanours?. Bloggers are seen as much more ‘human’ than their celebrity counterparts and with this perception comes empathy and understanding, ensuring that fan loyalty has far more longevity than a one off hit or phase. Bloggers have some of the most loyal fans out there, a fact that they reward regularly by communicating to them on a personal level, answering questions or writing on topics that their followers have requested.
2) Digital footprint
Bloggers are generally highly engaged individuals; therefore by partnering with a blogger, you are almost certainly guaranteeing a wider online reach of your message. As well as sharing on primary channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram they also often share through discussions on other blogs, Google Hangouts and most importantly, by word of mouth.
Google’s purpose is to provide customers with relevant and useful search results. Everything they do is built around this premise and by reaching out to bloggers you can obtain quality inbound links for your website which drives traffic and creates useful backlinks. Some bloggers can be sensitive if you reach out only with ‘SEO intent’ but if your aim is to build relevant, authoritative content around your product or brand, then blogger outreach is a natural and organic way to improve SEO at the same time.
4) Niche communities
Traditionally, it was okay to target a ‘sports’ journalist with anything related to sport, whether that be a new brand of running trainers, a team’s promotion or a new flavour of energy drink. By the very nature of a successful blogger, they will usually have a niche theme to their blog, which will fall under a wider category. A ‘Foodie’ blogger, for example, may write specifically on Gluten Free products, restaurants in the London area or cuisines to try while abroad. Therefore, as an allergy-friendly snack company, you can create a much more targeted approach and higher conversion rate, by pairing with an allergy-specific blog.
With an advertising campaign, repetition is key. However, this can also alienate users who do not resonate with that specific message or concept. With a blogger outreach programme, no two posts will be the same and it is more likely that your target audience will find at least one post or viewpoint that they can empathise with. Similarly, different influencers will have different followers, often extending from the first network they would have shared their blog with (friends and family), so the likelihood of reaching a wider geographic audience through this method is increased.
With more self-professed ‘bloggers’ appearing on the market day-by-day and professional bloggers often expecting remuneration, it’s uncertain how long this will remain a valid marketing channel but for the time being at least, it’s a method that brands can’t afford to ignore.