Tips on How Your Business Can Leverage the Blogosphere

You know what an influence marketing agency is, and you know how popular blogs can be. An infographic hosted by Business2Community shows that trusted bloggers influenced a holiday purchasing decision more than family or friends did (44.3 percent vs. 41.2 percent), and 93 percent purchased something because a blogger recommended it, versus 88 percent purchasing something because a brand shared deals or tips through social media.

Between the statistics showing consumer behavior and the fact that people generally trust personal word-of-mouth more than anything else when it comes to product and service reviews, it’s clear that businesses are doing themselves a disservice by not boosting reputation through the blogosphere.

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The question isn’t “why”, it’s “how”; how do successful companies, both small and large, use social media and blogger influence to bring about positive attention, drive sales and get free press?

The following are a few tips and steps to leveraging influence for your business.

On Social Media: Keep Your Fingers on the Pulse

Instagram and Twitter are two good sources for trend spotting due to the use of trending #hashtags – you can also use Google’s innovative and accurate Trends tool to search for general topics currently being searched en masse, or look for what’s most hot and talked about within your specific business niche. Trendsmap is a resource for finding what’s most talked about geographically, with a hashtag for each area of the world, while BuzzFeed is great for finding out what today’s trendiest viral videos were, to see what the Internet has been watching.

Sometimes marketers confuse influencer marketing with manipulation, bribing or worse. Influence is something you deserve by being relevant for others. The support of an influencer needs to be deserved by marketers as well. Indeed, by being relevant.

J-P De Clerck
An extremely popular and easy example is Oreo’s witty quip during the third quarter of the Super Bowl XLVII. Like Wired reports, a blackout at the event caused most companies to fumble about in panic. Oreo, however, took to Twitter and posted: “Power Out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” The latter sentence was the caption to a darkly-lit image of an Oreo cookie. At the time, the tweet garnered over 12 thousand retweets in an hour.

On Blogging: Stay Personal, Stay Relevant

Blogs don’t like it when you don’t know how to work with them. A major complaint amongst bloggers is that companies often mistake them for journalists. Another mistaken approach is when companies attempt to offer bloggers free access to their products or services in exchange for a (hopefully favorable) review, instead of treating them as personal brand bloggers and paying them for their services.

An analysis conducted between BritMums, a UK-based blogger collective of so-called blogger moms, and HK Strategies, a communications consultancy, revealed that 23 percent of bloggers said, “a lot of marketing by brands that targets mums like me is not relevant or effective.” Over 90 percent stated that they are interested in working with brands, but they want to be approached differently. On WARC.com, Claire Candler, head of HK Strategies stated, “Brands and agencies need to recognize it’s not a one-size-fits-all when executing a campaign.

“With personal stories driving the most engagement, brands would be well advised to consider how their proprietary content can translate into a truly authentic and emotional narrative from a blogger.”

Go Past the Blog, but Stay in the Community

Bloggers are very, very social. HK Strategies’ statistics showed that nearly 100 percent of their respondents were active on Twitter, and nearly 90 percent were active on Facebook, with Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest lagging behind around the 70 percent mark. On average, the 350 contacted bloggers had 8,700 followers on Pinterest, and roughly 3,000 on Twitter. To effectively speak with their readership, bloggers can use social media for follow-up, to pose questions towards their fan base for any preferred topics, and to answer questions that weren’t asked through their blog’s comment system.

That’s a plus to brands and businesses looking for ways to leverage blogger influence. Businesses don’t have to go far to find bloggers to work with; they may actually be reached out to first. Twitter and Facebook are great ways to reach out to blogs. You can do a search on your product to find any mentions, or a Twitter search on your respective niche to look into what people are talking about. Thank customers and bloggers for any mentions, and reach out to customers looking for recommendations directly.

Aside from Twitter, a great way to reach out to bloggers is by looking through directories and picking out the big fish; browse BlogCatalog or search top sites on Alexa per category. There are also websites built to facilitate brand/blog relationships, like BlogDash or GroupHigh.

Utilize Social Media to Facilitate Relationships with Bloggers and the Community

As with this campaign example by Too Faced Cosmetics, you can use the power of blogger influence to post the content bloggers have already created, and feature it (with proper credit) to facilitate a relationship between your brand and your community. Bloggers are appreciative when their content is reposted. After all, it’s free publicity from a business, and businesses obviously love when bloggers mention their brands. To the community, the open collaboration between brands and trusted influencers means brands can be trusted too. It’s a win-win.