by Stephanie Fields, Social Media Strategist, @StephLFields
I’ve seen a lot of changes in the blogosphere over the past several years. Especially when it comes to bloggers and brands working together. I used to be inundated by emails asking for free products in exchange for reviews and recipe posts. While there were many times I was hesitant to oblige because I was unsure of the ROI, looking back, I’m glad I seeded the product. So many of the blogs that were once small sites are now some of the most influential food blogs on the internet, garnering hundreds of thousands of visitors. These bloggers are influential and most importantly, they are trusted voices on the world-wide-web. They’ve spent countless hours creating content that has attracted audiences who care about the same things they do – cooking, parenting, organizing, to name a few. If agencies are lucky enough, these bloggers also care about the brands we represent and will therefore tell their fans!
So here’s where it gets a little sticky. In the past several years, we've gone from sending free product to having to build out fully compensated campaigns with bloggers. But wait, if these bloggers already love and use our products, why should we have to PAY for them to tell their readers about our products? We need to remember that unlike a journalist who works for a magazine, no one pays a blogger’s salary. In fact, most bloggers pay for their space on the Internet. If bloggers take the time and energy to create quality content that is in turn attracting a loyal audience (who is quite possibly our ideal consumer)– then it is definitely necessary to pay the blogger’s salary (so-to-speak) to access this audience via the blogger’s voice.
The question many brands have is: will the blog followers stop trusting the blogger if they post “sponsored” or “paid-for” content? Won’t they see right through it? First of all, 100% of bloggers I've worked with always state very clearly that they would never endorse a product that they wouldn't use themselves. They could definitely compromise the trust of their audience if they wrote about every brand who was willing to write them a check. I’ve also approached several bloggers about the “sponsored” disclaimer that the Federal Trade Commission requires the bloggers to post. They've actually said that the only readers to ever question sponsored posts are actually other bloggers – never civilian readers. That’s an encouraging sign! If you’re still unsure about working with bloggers, keep in mind that huge brands like Gap and Calvin Klein utilize bloggers and Instagram influencers in their marketing campaigns because they know it’s a sure-fire way to reach prime consumers!
Another fantastic benefit of working with bloggers is that many of the major online food news publications, such as Huffington Post, Food52 and Yahoo! scour the web for new food bloggers on a daily basis. Our bloggers’ posts are often picked up and syndicated by these publications which more than quadruples the reach!
Bloggers aren’t going anywhere. They are the future of media as evidenced in their takeover of the Internet as top influencers. So if you haven’t yet thought about allocating time and resources to developing a blogger campaign, you might want to get started!