As the traditional media landscape becomes increasing crowded and noisy, brands large and small have needed to modify their media and marketing strategies to create alternative opportunities to get in front of their desired audience. One growing alternative to traditional earned media is social media and blogger marketing, where brands work directly with blogger and social media influencers to create sponsored content featuring their products or services.
At Castle, we have developed social media and blogger marketing programs to help clients launch new products and increase brand awareness. If you are looking to promote your brand through social media and blogger programs, below are five best practices for working with bloggers and social media influencers.
- Do your research. Before working with a blogger or social media influencer, it’s important to thoroughly research their background to ensure that they are a fit for your brand. Many established influencers will have media kits that detail their reader demographics, follower/reader stats and examples of previous sponsored content that they’ve developed.
- Quality over quantity. One of the biggest mistakes brands make when working with an influencer is choosing them solely because they have a large number of followers or page views. The goal is to find a blogger or social media influencer that creates quality content and fits with your brand. An influencer with 50,000 followers that aligns with your brand is a much smarter investment than one with 500,000 that will promote anything for the right price.
- Follow the FTC endorsement guidelines. In the early days of social media and blogger marketing, there were no rules about disclosure for sponsored content. The Federal Trade Commission is now quite clear about rules for sponsored content: All bloggers and social media influencers must disclose to their readers and followers that the content they are seeing has been sponsored. Before agreeing to work with a blogger or influencer, ensure that they follow FTC endorsement guidelines. This brings me to make next point….
- Have a contract. It’s important that you treat your relationship with a blogger or influencer as you would any other business vendor or partner. Creating a contract that maps out what each party is responsible for helps avoid questions and misunderstandings later. Points to address in a social media and blogger marketing contract include:
- The cost of each post
- Payment forms and dates
- Content dates and/or deadlines
- Creative content guidelines
- FTC endorsement guidelines
- Image rights
- Additional promotional responsibilities
- Treat them with respect. Most brands recognize the importance of influencer relationships but some still consider them a second tier media group, which couldn’t be further from the truth. In an age where Twitter is a top news source and readers are choosing blogs over print magazines, developing strong relationships with influencers is crucial for brands. Don’t ask them to create and share special content on your brand for free (it happens more than you think) or ask to partner with them and back out at the last minute. Taking the time to cultivate relationships with influencers will help ensure successful partnerships in the future.
Before jumping head first into a social media and blogger marketing program, it’s important to really understand what influencers do. The best way to do this is to interact with them. Start by following influencers that may be a fit for your brand and don’t be afraid to leave comments or ask questions, they love hearing from people. Other interaction and learning opportunities are influencer events and conferences. These events are often open to marketing and communication professionals and allow you to meet influencers in person and make meaningful connections.