In today’s uber-connected social world, advertising and marketing mantras have changed. People are talking about algorithms and ads, when the most effective way even now remains the age old ‘word of mouth’. Social media has given rise to a new class of celebrities and we call them bloggers. They engage with brands and that is exactly how word of mouth starts today. Bloggers have a following in the social space and have been ranked the fifth most trustworthy source on the internet. This is because people draw inspiration from their lifestyle, trust their meal plans, and look for fashion tips from these influencers. People trust these bloggers and influencers as they use the brands; show their followers how to use it and most importantly, are honest. Marketers have identified this and a lot of brands have collaborated with these influencers. The results have been nothing less than expected.
Unfortunately, marketers are not exploring more creative ways to engage with these influencers. In 2015- 2016, we will see brands relying on influencers for promotions,but how differently they do it will define the success of the collaboration. Brands must think beyond ‘sponsored write-up’ and mundane ‘how to’ collabs.
Here are a few creative ways to keep brand collaborations engaging
- Gift them the goodies: Today agencies and brands have databases of bloggers, but most brands have their favorites. Pick the bloggers who best resonate with your brand and send them some free goodies. From a holiday, spa day, kitchen accessories, samples or just your latest fall line of clothing. This works for any kind of product or service. Free goodies do not always mean the bloggers will post about it. If you want to be sure, reach out to them before sending them anything. Also, look for bloggers who pay a lot of detail to visuals, because visuals play a key role. Choose bloggers who experiment with different formats. Videos are a big rage today and can do more justice than pictures. Overall, this works great because the bloggers are sharing more than a review, they are sharing experiences audiences can relate to. Giveaways also give bloggers the leeway to get creative.
KitchenAid did this exercise with a food blogger Nandita Iyer from Saffron Trail. She posts videos and shows her audience how the product works. She is also honest about the giveaway.
- Product reviews: 7 out of 10 people read online reviews of the products before making a purchase. This means, bloggers would be the brand’s word of mouth, POP (Point of Purchase) and ambassador all at once. This works exceptionally well if your product has a feature that needs some guidance. Read the other reviews the blogger has posted. It is not sufficient that they review products positively, it is important that the blogger is honest. If the bloggers aren’t honest, then the audience automatically loses trust. Be sure to discuss the aspects of the product you would like the blogger to highlight. To make product reviews more interesting, brainstorm about a series format with the blogger. They can review your product differently. The two industries I see this working brilliantly for are electronics and cosmetics.
Reviewing a product is not an easy task. So choose a blogger / influencer with the niche in your industry. In this case, Deepica is not only a beauty expert but has a great sense of style. She picked the right outfit to enhance the Cover girl lipstick colour. The review highlights the product and offers the specifications like shade details etc.
- Giveaway a code / coupon: I have always believed advertising can only direct customers towards a product and does not assure sales. Well, I may be wrong. Giving a coupon code to a blogger with a lot of followers can direct sales. This is actually the bit that follows right after the blogger has received the product and worked a post with it. If the post itself has attracted the attention, the sales are automatically going to go up. Discount codes work really well as they prompt immediate sales. Needless to say, this is a great way to build brand awareness. Also, ask the blogger to request their followers to tweet, tag and use your brand hashtag. If you don’t want immediate sales, just use the basic giveaway concept and offer something like a gift card, merchandise or something of value, to ensure the followers participate in the contest.
Ensure bloggers time the post and the giveaway well. You don’t want to let buzz fizzle out and then post the giveaway. Mirina collections has a unique coupon code for each blogger/ influencer and sets up a revenue according to the code.
- Group Giveaway: As the name suggests, this is a giveaway only done with a group of 10-20 bloggers. Group giveaways are a great idea because the prize can be single or multiple. All bloggers post the sponsored content on the same day. Ensure all the bloggers participate on the same platform, this makes collecting all the entries simple to monitor. Group activities like these work really well as they increase the exposure of your campaign tremendously. Use a mixed group of bloggers, some experienced and some who are just starting out. The experienced bloggers will help with building SEO, while the new bloggers will be willing to nurture relationships with brands and followers. The biggest advantage I see through group giveaways is the user-generated content the brand is building. Content can then be distributed on the social media channels.
- Blogger Competitions: If you have tried all of these and really want to step up your campaign, try the blogger competition. Invite 5-7 bloggers to take part in a competition. Get as creative as you want with the format. Ask them to post a entry like, a recipe or style and have their followers vote for them. Apart from the blogger engagement, this also drives a lot of brand awareness and creates a buzz. You can do this over a period of time and also be sure to promote the competition on all your social media channels. I personally think this will bring out the best in the bloggers too.
Swarovski did a brilliant job at this with their Style Your Way to Paris. They had bloggers across India compete to create different looks and chose one finalist from each city. The chosen finalists then competed again and a winner was chosen. They teamed up with POPxo to post event updates and create a buzz around the campaign.
To explore these and more options, The Piedpiperess is looking to collaborate with brands from the fashion, food, and tech industry. I am happy to explore new ideas and excited to have more engaging content for my followers.