Many consumers now trust bloggers more than mainstream journalists, according to a recent Affilinet Trust Index.
That’s why blog networks such as BlogHer drive thousands—if not millions—of consumers to the products, services and issues they cover.
Breaking in can be difficult. Here are three guidelines to help you pitch or partner your way to success with bloggers:
1. Send original images, not stock photos.
Bloggers frown on stock photos.
“We usually take our own photos when reviewing products,” says MomStart blogger Beeb Ashcroft. “Exceptions are recipe photos and movie trailer stills. We’re open to those, because we can’t easily shoot them ourselves.”
When you do send photos, don’t violate image copyright law. “I get a lot of PR reps who take stock photos straight from a Google search and then send them to me to republish as my own,” Ashcroft says.
Attachments are fine when sending photos, but most bloggers prefer links. “Just make it easy to download,” she says. “Your pitch will go to the bottom of the pile if it’s complicated.”
2. Experiment: Pitch Periscope-based campaigns.
Ashcroft suggests pitching brand ambassador programs that use exciting new tools like Periscope. For example, she recently live-streamed her dogs Bob and Roxy trying the TruFood healthy dog food line using Periscope and the #partner and #TruLoveIs hashtags.
Bloggers respond to brand managers who experiment with emerging social media, she says: “If you’re not already trying Periscope, you’re falling behind with digital influencers.”
3. Innovate, but practice full disclosure.
Brand managers must proceed carefully when experimenting with influencer campaigns. For example, disclosure is crucial when it comes to using bloggers to promote products or services.
Two weeks ago, the FTC offered clarification on its “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials” that explain the effect of the changes on marketing channels and techniques.
“One of the notable updates gave guidelines on the purchasing and selling of fake ‘likes,’” says Sandra Fathi, president of Affect. Here’s her summary of the key facts every PR professional and marketer should know:
- The purchase and sale of fake “likes” is labeled as “clearly deceptive.”
- Organizations prompting users to “like” a page when there is no way to disclose attendant material incentives will have violated the guides, though the FTC doesn’t “know at this time how much stock social network users put into ‘likes’ when deciding to patronize a business.”
- Advertisers, marketers and PR professionals “shouldn’t encourage endorsements using features that don’t allow for clear and conspicuous disclosures.”
For example, Lord & Taylor recently launched a campaign that offered an incentive to 50 fashion bloggers who posted Instagram photos of themselves wearing dresses from the company’s Design Lab collection—without disclosure from either the bloggers or Lord & Taylor.
“The program certainly was innovative,” Fathi says, “but it’s also a clear violation, and they were called out for it by the FTC.”