By Becky Brescacin

Working with influencers is an essential component of digital marketing and PR strategies. Consumers are often more likely to trust recommendations from a peer or a source they deem trustworthy, like a blogger. By working with a partner to create authentic online conversation about your brand you can engage customers and stimulate peer-to-peer advocacy.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when integrating a blogger program into your next campaign:

  1. Do your research. The first step is choosing who you’ll work with. Identify partners relatable to your target audience to make the campaign personal. For example, if you’re trying to communicate the benefits of healthy family eating, it makes sense to work with parenting bloggers who know their way around the kitchen and post recipes. But not every parenting blogger likes to chat food, so look for someone who can really bring their voice to the topic. Alternatively, if you’re promoting a contest to win travel accommodations, travel bloggers make a lot of sense – but also engaging with a fashion blogger who can promote the contest through posts focused on travel and fashion. Once you have an idea of who you might work with, become more familiar with the influencer. This is an important step towards understanding each blogger, what they’re passionate about and how they’re engaging with readers. By going that layer deeper, you’ll be better equipped to collaborate on relevant content that resonates.
  2. Align with objectives. Are you looking for mass awareness or do you want to engage a niche audience? Whichever it is, your strategies and tactics need to map back. Keep in mind – bigger isn’t always better. If your objective is engagement, a blogger with 30,000 Twitter followers or 60,000 page views may not produce the same results as someone with a small but very relevant and loyal following.
  3. Tailor your approach. Not all campaigns are the same and neither are all bloggers, so take the time to make your campaign personal. Consider if one platform is more impactful than another.  If you hope to drive traffic to a microsite contest, Twitter is a great option, whereas Instagram is best for a campaign where bloggers are sharing highly visual content. The blogger you’re partnering with may also suggest which channel their audience is most active on, or times of day the content performs best. Incorporate those recommendations: the bloggers know their communities best.
  4. Make it measurable. Most everyone tracks metrics and qualitative data such as engagements, comments or likes, but we should go far beyond those metrics to showcase the full benefits of working with online influencers. Implementing trackable links within a blog post or tweet can track lead generation, sharing how many readers actually clicked through, how long they stayed and even whether they made a purchase. Using a remarketing pixel will target consumers with online content as they continue their journey, keeping your brand top of mind. These measures add an extra layer of understanding and showcase ways consumers interact with content. From here, you’ll get a full understanding of what’s working best. Have these conversations with your bloggers at the onset of your campaign, and make sure you’re choosing ROI metrics that align to your objectives.
  5. Boost your blogger content. Producing stellar content is just a start. Give blog posts a boost by amplifying them through content-seeding platforms like Outbrain or Sharethough. With paid support, the post will be recommended to those reading similar content and you’ll see higher traffic volume as well as amplified engagement. Also retweet or share on your channels. This offers a unique way to communicate with your audience, and helps position partners as brand ambassadors. Lastly, don’t be afraid to work with bloggers and boost their content with paid support. Promoting posts to relevant audiences across social platforms will help you reach an even wider community.

In the end, the most important thing to remember is there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ blogger program.  Work with bloggers who truly embody your brand and make it a personal experience for everyone involved. Tailor your program and, perhaps most importantly, don’t underestimate the importance of building long-term relationships.