Social media influencers are the flashy new way for brands to advertise, but when most marketers hear the word "influencer," they probably think about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. They also probably think about Kim Kardashian West, and the absurd rates being paid for a social media picture that will fade into obscurity over the course of a couple days.
But they're forgetting about one of the oldest and most robust influencer platforms on the web: blogs.
Social media platforms can't be ignored because of the sheer amount of time consumers spend on them - the average person spends 15 minutes per day on Instagram alone, and collectively, people watch 100 million hours of Facebook video each day. But social networks do have their shortfalls.
For one, social influencers rely on the algorithms behind each platform's feeds to reach their followers, so having more followers doesn't necessarily mean they're reaching more people.
According to our internal influencer data, most social media posts also have a fleeting life span, with 85% of views occurring within 24 hours. This is great for driving impulse purchases, but blog posts offer far more in-depth coverage to drive bigger sales.
A blogger's audience is comprised of two types of people: searchers and followers.
Searchers are intent-driven, and they land on an article after searching a topic, while followers follow the blog because they want to read the blogger's posts again and again.
Working with the right bloggers has the potential to get you in front of the right audience, and to get their attention focused on your product.
The Right Way to Collaborate With Bloggers
Remember that the goal of any influencer collaboration is to deliver top-of-funnel awareness - and ultimately drive sales - so it's important to choose the right blogger who will benefit your bottom line.
The right blogger's content and style should align with your brand. Once you scope out the right influencer, let him do his thing. Giving bloggers creative license to connect with their audience will create authenticity, and it's okay to allow them to highlight the pros and cons of your product.
In fact, let the blogger compare your product to your competitors'. When customers are researching a product, they're often looking at your competitors' offerings as well - just be sure your influencer highlights the ways your product outshines the others.
Also, keep in mind the legal guidelines you must adhere to with influencers. If the blogger doesn't disclose that he's being compensated for his opinions, both you and the blogger can be fined.
If you're ready to start using bloggers as part of your influencer strategy, here are a few other things to keep in mind when selecting and vetting your candidates:
1. Understand Site Traffic
For a quick overview of a blogger's reach, Google Analytics is king. Look at the number of monthly unique visitors to the blog, and note where the traffic is going.
But this isn't enough - it's very important to understand where all that traffic is coming from.
Because your post will likely be featured on the homepage (make sure this happens), that's where you want to see the bulk of the visits when examining Google Analytics data. If the blog gets most of its traffic from a few individual posts with high SEO rankings, you're taking a major gamble because you're betting on search results to drive traffic.
You want to bet on a blogger's organic reach, which is much more reliable.
2. Don't Forget About the Power of an Email List
Email marketing is still alive and well, so find out how many people are subscribed to the blog's email list. A large email list means your article will be in the inboxes of all those readers.
Although the blast radius for Facebook influencers is huge, because of the News Feed algorithm, generally only a small selection of a person's Facebook followers will see his or her posts. Email, on the other hand, gets delivered 90% of the time, with open rates between 15% and 20% - or even higher for high-quality lists.
3. Give It the Eyeball Test
Aside from whatever else you do, you need to read your influencer's blog.
Seek out bloggers whose styles and identities most closely match your brand's, and visualize your brand as part of their story.
If a blog's message is too different from your brand's, consumers will notice right away when your sponsored content arrives.
4. Create Evergreen and Timely Content
Evergreen posts will keep readers coming back to the blog via search engines, so create content that will remain relevant for months or even years.
Giveaways are an exception. Bloggers and readers alike love them, and they're great for promotion, too. The post can be removed once the giveaway is complete, and then you can use the email addresses you've gathered to run targeted advertising among a custom Facebook audience.
Social media influencers may be the newest trend in marketing, but sometimes, the best option is one that's been around for years. Bloggers are often overlooked by brands trying to create an influencer strategy, but they can extend the life of your promotions and help you reach your audience in a more effective way.
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