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Till recently, Influencer Marketing as a term was used in the context of movie and sports stars who endorsed various products and services in the mass media. Enterprises earmark a sizable portion of their marketing budget to engage these offline celebrities as a part of their Influencer Marketing strategy.
However, with Internet penetration growing exponentially and social media becoming ubiquitous, Influencer Marketing has touched the next generation of celebrities – bloggers, video bloggers and micro-bloggers.
Bloggers, who are a source of inspiration for hundreds and thousands of loyal followers, have become important influencers because they are seen as authentic and trustworthy people. In a recent report by McKinsey marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37 per cent higher retention rate.
Another key aspect going in the favour of bloggers as influencers is the big connect they have with the new age social and mobile first consumers. Brands, both big and small, are increasingly engaging in blogging as an Influencer Marketing tool for the following reasons:
1. COST-EFFECTIVENESS: In comparison to engaging movie and sport celebs, collaborating with bloggers as a part of Influencer Marketing is much more cost-effective.
2. HUMANISATION OF BUSINESS: Since blogging is a conversational style of writing where every blogger has his/her own tonality, it results in greater connect with audiences and in a native fashion.
3. ENHANCEMENT OF CREDIBILITY: When bloggers, being a third party, talk about a brand or a product, it creates an objective-based impression among readers and enhances the credibility of the brand.
4. EFFECTIVE CONNECT WITH TARGETED AUDIENCE: Every blogger has their own area of expertise for writing and hence a niche set of followers. Therefore, collaborating with bloggers with right set of followers helps brands hit the bull’s eye in terms of audiences.
5. DRIVING MORE TRAFFIC ON BRAND’S WEBSITE: Since bloggers generally integrate the images and links of the products and services they are writing on, it results in driving higher and relevant traffic back to the brands website.
6. ENHANCING SCALABILITY: The availability of Influencer Marketing platforms empowers brands to scale up the collaboration with bloggers from 10’s to 100’s based on budget and campaign requirements.
The key challenge a brand faces is to find and connect with right set of bloggers. Below are few points a marketer should consider while engaging with social influencers:
Relevance of the blog and blogger: Marketers must check what the blogger writes about and if the blog followers fall under the brand’s TG. Quality/tonality of the blog and background of the blogger are equally necessary to determine before engaging.
Audience engagement: A good blogger is the one who knows how to get audience hooked. One way to see the audience engagement is to check if a blog is receiving any comments from its visitors. Apart from that, social media connections to the blog can be a sound parameter to measure the audience engagement.
Reach of the blog: Reach is an essential metric to attain the popularity of a blog. One can ask for the monthly traffic analytics of the blog to get the insights into its reach. The higher the numbers, the better!
Influencer Marketing, powered by blogging, is the fastest growing channel for digital customer acquisition and integrating it as an integral part of marketing mix is the best way to turbo-charge your social sales.
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (October, 2015 Issue).