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Bloggers As Brands: 5 Tips for Partnering with Today’s Influencers

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Navigating the relationship between brands and bloggers has grown in complexity as more and more bloggers are establishing their own personal brands with their own image to promote and protect.

Long gone are the days when an influencer’s footprint was limited to a blog. Many of today’s influencers are creating massive followings through book deals, design collaborations and even TV and film partnerships. This creates an interesting scenario for brands looking to tap into these personalities for borrowed relevance, as two separate brands are now part of the equation.

Joy Wilson from Joy the Baker, Ben Bowers from Gear Patrol, Emily Schulman from Cupcakes and Cashmere and Julie Carlson from Remodelista recently weighed in on this topic during an Advertising Week panel to talk about how brands can best work with them.

Here are five tips to make the most of influencer partnerships.

Surrender (some) control. Brands should trust an influencer’s knowledge of their reader base and the types of content and messaging that will resonate most. This sometimes means that brands must surrender some control and put it into the hands of the influencer. Giving up control can be a scary thing for brands, so to help minimize the risk, consider onboarding bloggers through an informal training and then providing some campaign guidelines for the bloggers to follow.

Think beyond the blog. Every influencer uses their social channels in different ways; for example, Ben from Gear Patrol uses Instagram and Twitter to provide his readers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the content he features on his blog. Marketers should consider how they can create more far-reaching programs that utilize the influencer’s social platforms to expand their audience and showcase content across various social channels.

Downy is a great example of a brand that is thinking “beyond the blog” with their #SoftSide campaign.  They partnered with influencers on Vine and Instagram to create content, taking the campaign from the brand’s Facebook page into new spaces.

Provide a value exchange. Every relationship should be mutually beneficial, in life and in marketing.  Many influencers are astute business people who have built their audiences from the ground up, and they recognize their value to brands. Brands will need to offer some form of value in exchange for the influencer’s time, content and advocacy. Value exchange can be provided in a number of different ways such as sample products, exclusive access or even monetary compensation.

Pay attention to detail. Most premier bloggers monitor and control the frequency of branded posts on their blogs, and when they do partner with a brand, they provide the proper disclosure. Influencers can lose trust with their readers—and face fines from the FTC—if they fail to disclose partnerships. This can also have a negative effect on the brand, so marketers should have just as much interest in following best practices as the bloggers do themselves.

Consider ideating with the blogger. If you know you want to partner with a blogger, but aren’t sure of the approach, you might want to collaborate with them on the best ways to execute the partnership.   Brainstorming alongside the blogger can help create powerful programs that achieve the brand’s marketing goals while also maintaining the blogger’s authenticity—which is vital to his or her reputation and personal brand.

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By upholding the true meaning of a ‘partnership’—a relationship in which both parties stand to benefit—marketers can achieve borrowed relevance through trusted influencers able to deliver messaging and content to a highly relevant audience.

Cover photo via Business Insider