Things are very different from the days when blogging first commenced. I’d like to point out, this isn’t a family portrait.
We now live in an environment where a 12 year old fashion blogger sits at the front row on New York Fashion Week alongside the Editor of Vogue.
Wherever we go now, we’re bombarded by advertising – it’s why the tv gets louder during the advertisements – they know people get up and go away to do other things. We’ve switched off. Word of mouth recommendations have never been more important.
Influencers offer the ultimate in word of mouth recommendations. Most importantly, they know their audience better than any brand is ever likely to. They know how to communicate your service/product to their audience in a way that will engage them and that they will respond to.
But that’s old news.
So let’s get started with some basics that we bloggers would really like brands to understand.
Bloggers don’t need exposure. Putting them on your Facebook page or in an email newsletter is unlikely to be exciting. You see, most bloggers write for the love of writing, they’ve established their own communities that are tight knit and they don’t want to just invite any old person in to join that. What’s more this exposure very rarely leads to a massive increase in followers for them. Trust me.
Exposure isn’t always a good thing.
Whilst it’s lovely that you might be a multi-national company, gone are the days that bloggers are flattered to hear from a brand. The likelihood is that their inbox is filled with emails from people just like you.
Depending on the type of site, we aren’t actually bothered about having people guest post for us. It’s our place and we’re kinda funny about handing that over to a complete stranger. We aren’t editorial sites, it’s normally our take on things and trust me, we won’t appreciate you writing an unloved post with tonnes of links. Sorry.
Bloggers are pretty smart creatures which is how they become influencers in the first place. We’ll sniff out spam in a second.
Whilst you’ve made commitments to the client or your boss about the result of the campaign, you can’t expect bloggers to want to help you for that reason. There has to be something in it for them.
Ultimately, the unspoken truth is that bloggers know if they’re being contacted by a big brand that they have a big budget and yet they’re expecting bloggers to write for free. That in turn conveys that you don’t value their work.
So why do bloggers do it? What motivates them?
They do it for the community. The development of the web has enabled people to unite with others with similar interests, much like the days where small local communities existed in real life. There’s something lovely about knowing your readers, having conversations with them and sharing discoveries and content with one another.
Social status. Bloggers love the esteem of being an early adopter, finding some of the best discoveries and being able to share them amongst their community – in turn increasing their reputation and status.
Life-enhancing experiences. Many bloggers still blog as a part-time hobby. Therefore if you can do something unusual with them that they’ll want to talk about to their audiences, being the type of people that they are, they’re likely to also share with their families, friends etc creating true advocacy.
And of course LOLCATS. Who doesn’t love them?
But the main item that we’re going to look at is social capital and what brands can do to help bloggers build their capital in turn generating a positive emotion towards the brand.
When we talk about social capital, we’re talking about trust and the reputation of a person. If a person has a good reputation, the likelihood is that they’ll have more brand opportunities, will attract larger and more engaged communities and thus the cycle continues.
Why is it important for brands that influencers have a good reputation? Well their audience will trust them which means that they’ll listen to their advice. A positive review of a product or service is likely to lead to this positivity being adopted by their readership, in turn leading to trials and purchases, further shares etc.
So on to the good stuff…
How do brands create content that bloggers want to share? They generate campaigns and content that is relevant to their audience. This will often mean co-creation of content with bloggers where they can have input as to what they think will work on their blog. If you’re able to engage them before the end of the campaign where there is some flexibility and you can listen to their recommendations, they’re more likely to adopt a sense of ownership.How do you get to the point where you can have these conversations? Well you have to build good relationships with the bloggers. You build good relationships by doing your research, knowing what they’re interested in, knowing whether they have kids, work etc and by paying a genuine interest. It’s not a case of reading their last blog post or sending a one-off email, you need to be in constant conversation with them.
Or you need to give them crazy awesome experiences so that they’ll genuinely want to speak about you and with passion.
Of course, if you’re creating campaigns, you need to make sure that you’re mastering clever techniques to get them to genuinely interact with their communities about your brand.
The result of this is authentic engagement where bloggers become advocates of your brands and will want to work with you in the future.
Which leads to you looking like a superstar.
And getting the payrise that you were after.
OMNLDN - The Psychology of Sharing
The Psychology of SharingUnderstandingBlogabilityMel KirkFounder, Tribal Media@melkirkOMNLDN2 May 2013
Consumers live in a world bombarded byadvertising, they no longer know who to trust.Word of mouth recommendations have neverbeen more important.Authenticity means everything.
Online influencers offer the ultimate in word ofmouth recommendations - withestablished, trusting and engaged communities.When carefully selected, online influencers cantell your stories for you, in a way they know willhave impact with their audiences.