What makes you unique as a blogger or influencer? And how can you help brands tell their story? These were two key questions brought up by speakers at our April meetup on influencer marketing and “How to Work with Brands.”
We got great insights from both brands and bloggers that day, thanks to panelists Luis Toro (multicultural marketing director at Perry Ellis International), Jennifer Valdes (account director at rbb Communications), and Mei Jorge (style, beauty and travel blogger at Blame it on Mei).
More than 40 bloggers took note, while enjoying lunch at Matchbox Restaurant and goody bags (with fashion and beauty gifts!) from the shops at Sawgrass Mills, our sponsor.
Here are some highlights…
The Relatability Factor
A growing number of brands are realizing the benefits of blogger/brand collaborations.
“Bloggers bring the relatability factor,” said Jennifer. “Someone who is local from the community has more value than a celebrity.”
Luis also stressed that relability and authenticity are important for brands. “The way we reach consumers has changed so much. Now, influencers help brands tell stories and are the new fashion editors.”
Indeed, a study by SimilarWeb showed that of the online traffic for Nordstrom, Net-a-porter, Shopbop and Sephora, about 13% to 18% is driven by influencer referrals on desktop, with even higher numbers on mobile. It’s clear these collaborations are powerful.
And we expect their use will only continue to grow. “Influencers are much more relatable to readers and brands are starting to notice,” said Mei.
So What do Brands Look for in Bloggers?
The key advice is to be creative and know your competitive advantage. “We’re looking for someone to help us tell the brand’s story in a way that’s unique and authentic,” said Luis.
Jennifer added questions every blogger should answer:
- Who are you?
- Why should we care or what makes you different?
- What can you offer our brand?
It’s all about content and putting your innovative spin on it… something new that will help brands break through the clutter.
And don’t forget a media kit. Mei’s blog media kit is always available for interested brands.
How do These Collaborations Work?
There are no clear guidelines here as it depends on the company’s goals. They may be looking for brand awareness, sales, web traffic or a combination. They might only ask you for one post or a few. These details should be part of an open conversation between both sides.
As bloggers, we also need to do our part to make it beneficial for everyone. Are you stronger on one social network over another? Don’t be afraid to mention that. It’ll help set you apart and the brand or PR agency will remember and appreciate your honesty.
What about fees?
Again, it depends. Some brands have a clear budget for these campaigns, while others don’t.
Mei pointed out it’s also up to your comfort level or what you feel your time is worth. You might be fine with getting free product or want to negotiate payment. Even the product category can make a difference. For example, travel brands might offer an exchange that can be worth more.
Before her family trip to the Caribbean, Mei reached out to a hotel. While the hotel couldn’t comp her stay, it did offer extra amenities and a spa package, which she accepted and included in her blog. She was happy with that arrangement, but has asked for payment in past collaborations as well.
Finding Brands (or Bloggers)
Mei often reaches out to brands she’d like to work with and recommends bloggers do the same. Brands contact her too. “I only work with brands that I really use and like. If a new brand reaches out first, I warn them that I might not cover them.”
She advised us to find marketing contacts on LinkedIn, in social media (DM a brand’s accounts), or by Googling “press release” or “media contact” with the company name.
To find bloggers, brands use various means, including online searches, influencer networks, social media hashtags, agents, and referrals. “It takes a lot of research to make sure bloggers fit the brand,” said Jennifer.
Our panelists had mixed views on the future of influencer marketing. With the constant changes in social media, Luis believes another trend may eclipse this one in as soon as two years. But Jennifer and Mei feel blogger and brand collaborations are here to stay for a while.
“The future depends on us and how we keep things fresh and new,” said Mei.
A special thanks to Sawgrass Mills for being a great host (bearing gifts!) and to Matchbox Restaurants for a terrific lunch.
More photos by Nohemy Adorno…