In the past few years, brands have realized the power of working with bloggers and other social media users. As marketers and communications professionals have weaved in word of mouth and influencer marketing strategies they have learned how to build the most effective relationships possible.
Now that the learning curve is starting to even out, brands aren't merely "doing it" with bloggers for the sake of doing it. Oh no, they are starting to "do it" quite creatively...
I absolutely love observing all of the creative campaigns going on lately that focus on the valuable word of mouth mentions that bloggers sprinkle to their networks about the brands they work with.
Utilizing blogger events and other in person and new tactics, fashion brands especially are teaming up with bloggers and producing some really effective and creative posts together.
GUESS has a team who specifically promotes their watches while working with a network of 60 bloggers they've curated to promote their products.
"Bloggers have been major for our brand. They have really given a personal voice to the brand that is genuine and varied and exciting to keep up with. It has really set us apart. Lots of brands work with bloggers but not to the level that we do," explained Kate Neary, Social and Community Manager for GUESS Access.
When looking for new bloggers, GUESS reaches out to bloggers that have worn and written about GUESS products on their blogs in the past. They also have bloggers reach out to them to collaborate.
When qualifying bloggers, GUESS looks at their blog to see if it's a good fit with their brand, meaning, the blogger must have really strong visuals on the blog as well as possess the ability to write copy that would engage the audience GUESS wants to put in front of.
Once GUESS has established a relationship with a blogger, they give the blogger four assignments a year or one a quarter. They are strict with deadlines and guidelines but finds this keeps everyone organized and actually doesn't produce stifling content.
To keep the bloggers on board and to create a mutually beneficial relationship with the bloggers, GUESS compensates them well for their valuable word of mouth recommendations. They send them free watches for review and they often send out random gifts to their network of bloggers. They also link back to their blogs from the GUESS website and promote their work on their Facebook page.
This really emphasizes that value of cross promotion and I think a lot of brands forget that the bloggers are trying to promote themselves just as brands are.
Thirty-One Gifts is a brand centered on purses and totes and has a lot of experience working with bloggers to move their brand forward-especially with the release of each of their new catalogues.
Their tactic is simple yet effective. Thirty-One Gifts sends bloggers products from the catalogue and asks them for a product review. Of course they get to keep the bag.
In addition to the valuable word of mouth recommendations that product reviews bring the brand, Thirty-One Gifts invites most of the bloggers to do a product giveaway "It drives more readership for them and more exposure for us-it's a win for everyone," explained Sara West who does PR for Thirty-One Gifts.
Whether it's through a giveaway or a product review, Sara says her brand works with bloggers because many of them do gift guides, back to school features, etc. which are always very effective ways to promote the brand. Not to mention that the bloggers share their reviews on all of their social media channels so Thirty-One Gifts says they get a lot of social media exposure by working with bloggers.
Sara said working with bloggers has been pretty much completely positive and mutually beneficial. "They even do their own photography, which I believe lends even more credibility to their reviews. They often show themselves using our products, out on the go with their families and give real-world information about their uses."
Apricot Collection, a women's online clothing store that focuses on hand picked trendy pieces geared toward busy moms has been doing campaigns with bloggers ever since they've started their online store last year and credit a lot of their success to working with bloggers.
I talked to Michelle Herscu, the founder of Apricot Collection who has much to teach through the way she works with bloggers. "Bloggers have definitely helped our brand to move forward rapidly. They enabled Apricot Collection become a familiar name in the online world and specifically get recognition amongst our niche market, stylish moms."
Michelle explained that working with bloggers has had a positive effect on her brand in more ways than one: "Overall it's a time saver in terms of spreading the word about our brand, as well as cost effective."
In addition to working with bloggers for product reviews (check out some of them here), Apricot Collection participates in one of the biggest fashion giveaways on the web-the big fall and spring fashionista events. These 2 events include 100 bloggers that are sponsored by brands who send out products for review plus gift cards for the winners. Since there are thousands of participants in events like these, Apricot Collection gets a ton of exposure and is happy to provide product and gift cards.
Michelle emphasized the value that working with bloggers has across all other digital channels such as Pinterest and Twitter, "they are a treat to work with; they enjoy doing the reviews, take great photos, and write fine articles. They also know how to use their well-established social media platform to help promote brands even further."
Gap's "Be Bright Campaign"
To promote their spring collection in 2012, Gap teamed up with 6 influential fashion and lifestyle bloggers in the "Be Bright Campaign."
The bloggers had to style outfits out of Gap's fashion items to reflect the blogger's personal taste while recommending outfits for their network. To goal was to put a modern spin on the traditional catalogue approach to showcasing a fashion line.
Do you know of other noteworthy campaigns in which fashion brands and bloggers collaborate? Would love to hear about your example in the comments section!
(image via GuessWatches.com)