Working with bloggers is one of the smartest things an independent brand can do to amplify its voice and presence, even on a modest budget, to compete with bigger and better-funded brands. This is even more true when it comes to brands targeting women. Many indie brands have been successful using this method, but what are the keys to doing it well? Use the following tips as your guide to doing it right.
Know your audience
Before you send an email or pick up the phone to contact your first blogger, figure out who your consumer is. Know how she shops and what media she consumes -- how she spends her time in various content channels all day long. With this consumer insight in hand, you then must take the time to identify bloggers or networks of bloggers that service or engage with this audience -- those who are trusted experts to the women you are trying to reach. Your audience and category will determine whether you reach out to teen beauty video bloggers or mom bloggers who write for women in their 20s and 30s, for example.
Partner with experts
Consider working with a blogger agency or network. Their ongoing, long-term relationships will help you be most effective and efficient in your outreach. A partner will know the preferences of each blogger and how they like to work. Out of dozens of bloggers, a brand might want to start by establishing a relationship with a handful. If your budget is light, pick just a few bloggers and slowly build a personal relationship with each one, just as you would any other member of the press.
Stay clear on your objectives the entire time. Is your goal to move merchandise, increase awareness of a new product, or build the brand? Stay focused on this imperative. Some blogs are more geared to one mindset than another. In beauty, for example, some blogs focus on shopping, others on practical guidance and tips -- and others only review products. In the fashion world, certain blogs are known to inspire women and drive sales with their focus on affordable, wearable outfits, while others would be more likely to create a brand association with art, creativity, and high fashion. In order to create connections, you need to know your brand identity and objective before you represent yourself in appropriate content and community channels across the blogosphere.
Present a clear proposition
Brands can work with bloggers in a variety of ways. A brand can send product samples, invite bloggers to events, hold a design collaboration or contest, create videos, or sponsor content. One note about product reviews: When it comes to sampling and freebies, the best bloggers to work with are those who review only the products that interest them, and are not obligated to write about something just because they got it for free. (All bloggers are obligated by law to disclose freebies and compensation for any posts they do write.) Authentic, heartfelt editorial by an engaged author is the best kind.
For example, Jeannine Morris, Founder of BeautySweetSpot.com, has done all sorts of collaborations with brands, from hosting events to being a spokesperson. One of her favorite partnerships was a recent one with MyHabit.com, for which she curated a beauty sale, hosted a Twitter Q&A on beauty for its readers, and created a how-to video highlighting one of the makeup products she chose for the sale.