There are several types of Influencer programs you may set out to do. They are Sponsored Content, Event Coverage, Brand Mentions, Product Reviews and Ongoing Brand Ambassadorships. They range from simple to more complex. It all depends on what your goals are for the influencer program.
I will admit that when I started this series I was only looking at Brand Ambassador programs. It wasn’t till E-Marketer released results of a study on the effective influencer marketing programs. Then a light bulb went off over my head. I needed to talk about these. The previous posts were 101 posts, this and the next are 201 posts.
Sponsored content is just that. Content you either write or have written for the purpose of posting on a blog. It usually costs a payment to be included on a blog. Each blog has a different stance on sponsored content. Some will allow you to pay and send in your content. While, others want them or their writers to craft the content so it matches their tone and voice. Before you agree to sponsored content. Make sure the blog is reaching your target audience. Also, you will want to look at their reach and promotion of the content.
Things to look for in a blog:
Unique Visitors – How many do they get in a week or month
Demographics of readers – Do they have people in your industry reading the blog? Do they reach your target market?
Previous examples of Sponsored Content – Look at previous examples of sponsored content. See how they place it on the site and alert readers of the content (following FTC guidelines)
Social Media – Are they going to promote this in their social media?
Publication Date – Make sure they can give you a guaranteed publication date.
Follow up Metrics – Will they give you metrics from their end of the post?
You want a blogger who is transparent that this is sponsored content. If they don’t post “sponsored content” or some other words at the top of the post. Think again before using them. Remember bloggers will not get in trouble for not identifying sponsored content. Your business is ultimately accountable.
When doing sponsored content always use UTM links in your post. This will allow you to see in your Google Analytics how the content performed. It will give you a granular look at what happened.
In all honesty this is not one I have dealt much with as a blogger or marketer. However, I would assume that you want a blogger at your event to provide coverage for the general community. Bloggers could be considered by some, to be journalists. Having the blogger there to cover your event could give you more legitimacy.
I have covered events for myself, not for companies. In fact if you look back on this blog there are quite a few AMA Atlanta/AIMA events I wrote up. I don’t consider myself a journalist and it’s not my favorite thing to post. Since it’s a live event I always miss something. Unlike an interview, you can’t go “Can you repeat that?” in a room of 150 people.
What to expect in blog coverage
Paid or free – Are you paying a blogger to cover the event or is it free for your business
Access to Speakers – will you provide access to speakers at your event (before or after)
Prime Seating – Will you give them prime seating at the event to cover it?
Photographer – Will they bring a photographer or do it on their own? Note that a lot of bloggers are one stop shops
Blog Demographics – Are they a source in your industry that people look up too?
Editorial Date – Did they give you a deadline in which your post will publish? Being an event you it has a “shelf life” and needs to be put out soon rather than later.
These are a few things to consider. I could keep doing a lot more on this one. Just like the paid content make sure the blogger is a trusted source in the community. Ask around if people in your industry read it and what they think about the blog. Remember traffic is not the be all end all criteria. If they reach your target market and only have 1,000 readers. They are more valuable than a blog with 1,000,000 readers who may not care about your company.
In between sponsored content and product reviews are Brand Mentions. These, as I see it, are mentions of your brand on a blog. This can be one off or as an on-going program with the blogger. It also can be paid or non-paid. You maybe asking, why would this be unpaid?
If you have an up and coming blogger in an industry. They need resources such as pictures, links to products and such. They will ask a brand if they can use their pictures and resources in exchange for linking to their site. As a blogger I have done this exact thing. Being new its hard to get big brands to take you seriously. That mean’s you can’t get assets you need on your own. When a retail/wholesaler agrees to let you use their images it’s a big win for you and your blog. It allows you further your credibility as a blogger.
I would say use this arrangement if you’re on the way up as well. It’s a mutually beneficial to both the blogger and the brand. This arrangement may get you traffic you have been missing.
Things to look for in a blog:
Passion – does the blogger have a passion for your industry and wanting to make it into something bigger?
Unique Visitors – This may not be a good indicator if the blogger is just starting. But getting in on the ground floor could be good for the long term benefit.
Not all industries will be able to take part in product reviews. If you have high end products its going to be difficult for this to happen. Not impossible but difficult. Areas where you tend to see product reviews are in technology (phones, tablets, and computers), appliances, clothing and sports goods/fitness equipment. The smaller the product and cheaper, the easier it is to review it for a blog.
As I mentioned the best example is in the tech industry. When a new phone comes out there are hundreds of sites that review the phones. Some are given on behalf of the company that makes the product. While, others are purchased by the blogs. Some prefer to buy review items, so they are not beholden to a third party.
This is another grey area as well. Some blogs will accept the product as payment. Whereas, others will expect the product and a monetary payment for a review. It all depends on the industry. I would suggest finding what is the standard for your industry. One I have worked with in the past is the craft industry. Most bloggers will review products by making a project and expect payment for their time. If the review is more in depth and detailed, you may have to offer payment on top of the product.
Things to look for in a Reviewer:
Timeline – How long will it take the blog to review the product? Also when can you expect it posted.
Do they currently review – Read their reviews and see if you like how they are written and the tone. If a blog is overly critical it could be good to see things you may have missed in your product. On the other hand, you want a good review of your product so others will buy it.
Promotion of the Review – How do they promote the review. It’s in both the blog and brands best interest to have it promoted on all social media and email lists.
Reciprocation – The blog will expect you to promote the post in social media. If you don’t want to post a bad review let them know up front.
Objectivity – Bloggers are not obligated to give you a good review. They again their credibility being honest and forth coming in their thoughts. Once the blogger gets the product it’s out of your hands.
I have found it’s great to have a list of regular bloggers you want to work with on reviews. Sometimes they will contact you, while other times you will contact them. Working with regular bloggers takes out mystery. You know what to expect working with them.
Brand Ambassadors are an ongoing program. They are a set of individuals you work with to help promote your brand in their social media and blogs. Ambassadors are a way to amplify your brand and put a human face on it. I consider brand ambassadors a new form of Word of Mouth Marketing for the digital age.
When working with brand ambassadors its important to give them advance news of products/service you will be offering. You want to get them hyped up to tell their following about it. You can even give them exclusive rights to show previews of the products to their followers.
Consider them as an extra PR/Sales Force for your brand. You need to let them know what you expect them to cover. However, they need to be able to do it in words and ways their followers expect from them. They are basically telling the story of your brand in their own words. Which will seem more genuine and sincere.
Working with Ambassadors
Picking the right fit – Find individuals who share the same values as your brand. Also, those who love your brand
Give them Talking points – Give them talking points over a script. Let them know what is important to cover and then let them use their own language.
Communication is Key – You want to be able to talk to your brand ambassadors on a regular basis. The same in return, if the brand ambassador has an issue, be able to talk to them.
Cross promotion – Its important that you both cross promote each others content. You are developing a relationship and want it to be one for the long term.
Point of View – Let them have their point of view. If they disagree with something or the way a product is made, let them voice it without repercussions. There is a difference in sharing a valid opinion and trashing your brand. Plus this will make you look better in customers eyes, you aren’t perfect and things happen!
Exclusive – Are they going to be exclusive to you or work with other brands. Some ambassadors work only with one brand in a category but several companies at a time.
In working with Brand Ambassadors, start small. Then allow it to grow. Work out all the issues with a few people. Trust me, there will be issues you didn’t plan for that will crop up. The key is how you over come them. It’s a lot of work to make a brand ambassador program to work. Don’t throw in the towel at the first bump in the road. Push through and build something great.
My advice for ambassadors is be slow to accept them. You need to do your homework on people and see what they are posting. Ask around about their reputation and how they work with other brands. Give them a trail period when either you or they can end the relationship. If however you have to end a relationship with an ambassador do it with grace and class. Don’t point fingers. Just tell them you aren’t getting the results we are expecting of brand ambassadors.
This is an overview. More like an in-depth view, of the different types of influencer marketing programs. Start off small and build into a great program. Remember it takes time to grow like anything on the net. Don’t expect results instantaneously.