There’s no question among digital marketers that influencer marketing is a fantastic way to get your brand buzzing online.
The very nature of the social web points to this. It’s a theory that Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and every other social network out there relies on.
Simply put, you’re more likely to buy something if someone you trust – friends, family, peers, experts – recommend them to you.
Influencer marketing could take various forms. But the most basic form of involves reaching out to the blogging community to endorse your brand. What marketers hope to achieve through this can be broken down into three basic benefits:
- Extend your audience by engaging with the community of loyal followers bloggers have.
- Generate and share content around your brand – therefore generating SEO, traffic, social mentions and consumer conversation.
- Build a network of bloggers around your category who you can reach out to over and over again.
I’ve had the opportunity to be part of two blogger outreach programmes recently, and conducted one myself. Here are some things I’ve learnt from all three.
The Standard Chartered Breeze Blogger Event
I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the folks over at BlogAdda, inviting bloggers to participate in an event by Standard Chartered Bank (SCB). I was one of the folks selected, and was then told that the event was being held to promote the bank’s new mobile banking app – Breeze.
The luncheon was held at Escobar in Bandra, Mumbai. A swanky, pricey joint. Clearly the clients were leaving no stone unturned. There were screens all around when I walked in, with TweetDeck and Twitter open for all the attendees to see. I soon realised that the event was limited to 30 tech and digital bloggers – an influencer audience if I ever saw one.
It was great to see the clients walking around and spending plenty of time with each blogger. Not selling the product, mind you, but just getting to know them. As were the BlogAdda team. Both organisers were clearly working hard to engage the bloggers at a personal level.
When the presentation began, we were invited to tweet our thoughts during the presentation to the Standard Chartered Breeze account. These tweets were being tracked and projected on the screens in front of us all through the event. To encourage us to tweet, the SCB team were giving away an iPad 2 (for the most creative tweet describing the product) and a BlackBerry Bold (for the most tweets). Great incentive – a cherry on the top of what was already feeling like a slick, international-quality event experience. At the end of the day, all bloggers who attended were also given Sennheiser noise-reduction headphones as they left the event.
After the event, the BlogAdda team sent out emailers with the SCB Breeze press kit attached, and asked us to email them any post we may have written around the event.
My post on the app is here. And below is a screenshot of the analytics for that post, which has influenced about 1000 people since I posted it. (Keep in mind that this is a very niche blog with a limited following, and that most of the other attendees would probably have a higher reach.)
BlogAdda and SCB did everything right. They found the right bloggers. They engaged successfully (and very classily) with them. And, judging from the response on Twitter, enthused them to broadcast Breeze to their own audiences.
The BlogAdda Book Reviews Programme
I started engaging more with BlogAdda after the SCB meet. And discovered their Book Reviews Programme. Being the speed-reading bookworm that I am, I promptly filled up a form and waited for their reply.
It wasn’t long in coming. An email arrived, informing me that I’d been picked to review a book called Love On The Rocks, by Ismita Tandon Dhankher. My book was on the way, and I was asked to post my review within 7 days of the book reaching me.
The first thing I noticed about the book was that the author (who writes a poetry blog) had handwritten a poem on the first page. A small personal touch that made me feel more connected to her, and more eager to start reading.
The book had some pages missing, and I’ve since written to BlogAdda requesting a new copy (I’m yet to get it, though). But I wanted to highlight two points here.
- The personalised touch that the author – the brand owner – added that made this so much more appealing.
- The very idea of a first-time author turning to social media and influencers to promote her book. Not just relying on professional critics in the press and online, but getting an opinion from the only people who matter – the ones who will buy (and get others to buy) the book. Understanding, and willing to risk, a negative backlash.
- We didn’t just look at taking the traffic and content that the bloggers gave us. We offered to give the bloggers the exposure, credibility and traffic that only India’s leading online content destination can provide.
- We promised to read all 360 posts to determine winners. Not just the ones that had the most Likes. Content, not canvassing, was the determining factor.
- And, of course, the prize money was a huge draw.