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What brands really look for when working with bloggers

In recent years, brands and bloggers have learned to use each other’s resources and platforms by developing mutually profitable relationships.

While bloggers have found themselves on guest lists previously reserved for magazine editors and receiving ad revenue that had traditionally gone to big media outlets, brands have discovered innovative ways to tap this new group of influencers voicing unique, unbiased and trusted opinions.

However, with the increasing numbers of bloggers and social influencers sharing content across the web, it has become ever more important for brands to identify which individuals will truly resonate with their audience and influence real actions such as purchasing, increased awareness and long-term loyalty.

So how do brands go about choosing which bloggers to work with now?


Crowdsurfing with Skype @ SXSW

One thing’s for sure: strong>quality content is taking priority over traffic.

This has certainly always been 1000heads’ approach with our clients and networks of influencers – numbers are meaningless if they don’t reflect real resonance and deliver on concrete results.

So it was great to see a similar spirit emerge in the panel recently hosted by Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly LinkShare) featuring speakers from Saks Fifth Avenue, Birchbox and Vacation Style discussing how they choose the bloggers they want to work with.

Brands who are members of affiliate networks (where bloggers can earn commission by driving sales of the products they feature on their site) often focus on bloggers who are sending the most traffic and/or driving the most sales. But while blogs driving the most sales and traffic are typically those with the most followers, a blog’s reach only plays a small factor in which influencers brands want to work with.

One thing that the panelists all seemed to agree on was that while it’s ideal to partner with a blog that’s both big and beautiful, high quality content (particularly high res imagery) is far more significant than numbers. The main reason for this is the growing emphasis on brands featuring user-generated content (UGC) on their own channels. Brands want to work with bloggers whose content they would be proud to repost.

They also view even the smallest partnership as the beginning of an ongoing relationship between their brand and the influencer involved. Knowing that traffic often follows high quality content, onboarding a smaller blogger who could eventually grow into a big influencer is well worth the investment.

The desire for beautiful content over raw numbers is also levelling the playing field for influencers. Social influencers, no matter how large or small their following, shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to the brands they love. Most brands or agencies love being approached directly – and even if they don’t have anything for them now, will keep these  self-selecting advocates in mind for future campaigns.

As long as influencers keep their voices genuine and their content premium, brands will join the conversation.  Hollow click-bait and cynical paid partnerships may get short-term results, but brands are starting to invest in the bigger picture.

Amen to that.