What brands look for when working with bloggers?
The question we all want to know the answer to, what is it that makes a brand choose a blogger for a campaign, what makes a brand want to work with one blogger over another, how do brands select influencers to work with. For bloggers looking to take their blog full time or start to earn money from collaborations, understanding what brands are looking for is really helpful in defining your own commercial offering but it’s also something that’s not very widely discussed or available to us.
But here’s where today’s post comes in, my experience happens to fall both sides of the fence (not that I exploit that anywhere near as much as I should), as a full time blogger working with brands, but also client side (I’m a business director consulting brands on their communications strategy across all touchpoints, which is of course inclusive of content and influencer partnerships). As the blogging industry boomed, so did the value of influencers to brands, so bloggers and content producers now form quite an important part of many of my clients business strategies. So whilst I’ve worked on lots of partnerships for my own blog, I’ve also planned and advised global clients on lots of influencer partnerships for their brands too, I’ve commissioned networks and agents (for example Mode Media, Say Media, WAR, Maker Studios, Style Haul etc) to create influencer campaigns for my brands in the UK and globally, and have been part of the process and exposed to the process of defining what bloggers and content producers we need involved.
Today I wanted to share a little bit of insight into what brands look for when working with bloggers.
6 THINGS THAT A BRAND CONSIDERS WHEN SELECTING BLOGGERS TO WORK WITH
A Strategic fit
The communications strategy is ultimately what puts influencers on the plan or not. Brands and / or their media agency will create the right strategy to deliver on the brands business goals and ambitions, define the channels and touchpoints to deliver that strategy, but beyond that establish the role of the channel within the strategy. So it’s not only defining the need for influencers, but also the role of the content, the part it plays in the bigger campaign, the objective of this channel in delivering the business goals (sales, engagement, awareness, traffic, SEO etc). The role influencers and content plays in the strategy affects therefore the type of content required, the type of bloggers relevant and the type of partnership to be created … the overall business goal is the starting point for selecting the type of influencer activity and individual influencers a brand wants to work with.
Secondly, and probably quite obviously, one factor that many brands look for when they’re selecting influencers to take part in a paid for collaboration is the scale the influencer has. Largely this ‘scale’ is attributed to follower numbers across all touchpoints (blog, Instagram, twitter, Youtube). While I personally think subscribers and followers is actually highly limiting (it doesn’t bring to life engagement, influence or genuine reach) it is sadly a huge factor in the decision making process.
Largely this is driven by two factors: One: it’s the currency many businesses and brands understand … while the industry is still so new to many brands, followers is the easiest way to understand the potential scale of an influencer and therefore the potential value to the brand. Two: it’s actually the numbers that networks and agents share with media agencies and brands. When the networks pitch ideas and bloggers to us, they usually talk about individual bloggers by their follower numbers, and share reach as a total ‘campaign’ number across all the influencers involved.
It’s not only follower numbers, reach and, engagement with the content & the conversion to sales are ultimately what a brand wants.
Relevancy & Brand Match
Equally important to scale is the relevancy, the relevancy of the blogger to your brand, your audience and your campaign goals. Finding an influencer or content producer who reflects your business and brand values, has an audience who is engaged and of relevance to your category and brand offering is critically important. A huge factor in a network sharing one blogger over another is their relevance to the brand and the campaign itself.
Just as much as us bloggers only work with brands that reflect their own values and taste, businesses and brands have to have the same filtering process. This point is why it’s always so important to stay true to yourself when blogging and have a clear identity (rather than just chop and change what you stand for constantly), because brands want that integrity and that identity. It’s your niche and influence within that niche that adds value to them.
Whilst relevancy is key, competitor engagement is obviously a big watch out. A relevant blogger may already have relationships with your key competitor, in that instance it would probably be a deterrent.
Quality & Results
Quality is also really important, more often than not a brand will ask for examples of previous work done by any content producers they’re looking to work with, they’ll also browse their platforms to see the types of content and features their producing, and critically the quality of that content. Quality in terms of editorial, imagery and overall content design, but also quality of engagement and quality of brand presence delivered in previous campaigns (the results).
To this vain it’s really important to always make sure you’re showcasing your best work, and even have a portfolio available for future clientèle to check out. Often if you’re signed to a network or agent, they will share a campaign example you’ve worked on with them to the client and brand they’re pitching to. Ultimately a brand will always have a goal (increased awareness, an improvement on sales, traffic to their site, social engagement, content they can use to boost their own site and SEO, virality, engagement, reach …) so knowing you have a track record of delivering is important.
“Brands are looking for value, you have to be able to prove you can deliver that value, through your audience, your content and your own brand”
Influence & SEO potential
It’s fair to say that not all brands use media agencies and networks to outreach to bloggers, sometimes PR agencies do this if it’s non paid for projects, or even in house content managers if a brand is more advanced in this space. In these cases, where a network isn’t managing the process, the selecting of bloggers is usually more based on their SEO and their influence over the desired audience. Social listening tools are really key here and more often than not PR houses will have a list of influencers that they have relationships with or think are relevant who they’ll go back to time and time again.
If I’m honest, this is also true of the networks, from my experience they tend to pitch the same 5 – 10 bloggers over and over again (great for those guys, less good for those of us not on that list). Niche SEO is also a thing, topics can include SEO for Assisted Living as well as many more and bloggers can also help businesses that work in similar niches as them!
A major factor that comes into play these days is also affordability, when brands are looking at 1 or 2 key influencers (and they’re talking about the very top tier of influencers), the cost of those influencers is often the first factor in picking the right person. Because believe it or not, these days celebrities are cheaper than influencers. With the cost of a single feature hitting the 6 figure mark, with event attendance hitting the 5 figure mark and ambassadorship hitting the 7 figure mark, you can understand why affordability becomes quite a big factor. Sometimes the influencer is worth the investment, because they’re the right fit for the brand and the campaign, they have scale and influence over the right audience and they can deliver a quality brand message … other times alternative influencer strategies are put into play.
The main thing to remember is that it’s your integrity, your brand and your personality which a brand is buying into, so always staying true to yourself and standing by your own brand is really critical. Don’t compromise your integrity for the sake of money or more followers … it’ll only impact you negatively in the long run!
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So there you have it, hopefully a little insight into what brands are looking for when they’re recruiting bloggers for campaigns and collaborations. If you’re looking to take your business full time or are starting to work with brands then a media pack is a great way of getting all of your key stats into one place for potential clients.