As someone who has always had a passion for marketing, and an eye for what works and what doesn't, working with brands has always been a passion of mine. I have worked with hundreds of brands, created my own campaigns, and even briefly ran a community for bloggers and marketing reps. So why do I feel so jaded after years of this? Honestly, there are so many reasons, so I may have to write more than one post.
For this post I will stick to an area all bloggers will understand. The Numbers Game!
Today, I got an email from a company I work with on campaigns from time to time about why you may not get chosen for campaigns. It was about numbers. Yes, they try to choose bloggers who have a real voice, but often they have to please the reps because reps have clients to please so they are forced to choose the bloggers with the highest monthly page views, largest social media followings, and not necessarily the bloggers with the nicest pictures and followers that would love hearing about the campaign.
To the reps: I understand that you have a boss or client to please, and numbers are very important in this business. You probably work with magazines and television (or have in the past) and you know that it looks great to show the highest numbers possible because that means you did your job. You got the word out that this brand/product is awesome and everyone needs to have it. The thing is, blogs don't work like magazines for T.V. Blogs have real followings, they are similar to celebrities in that the people who love them believe them and want to support them. Which means if you work with a blogger whose blog lines up with the message of your brand or product you will likely do well, even if the bloggers community seems small in comparison to the other bloggers or mediums you've worked in.
Let's say for instance you are promoting a trip to Australia. You decide to send 15 bloggers. How do you choose the bloggers you work with? Do you choose them based on who has 89,000 twitter followers? I wouldn't recommend it. You see numbers can be skewed and even if your bloggers are in the niche you're working in, it's important to learn more about them and actually read their blog to get a feel for who they are. If you aren't looking at niche bloggers you have to be even more careful because working with a blogger solely based on numbers, especially if it's not their niche can be even more risky.
I'm not saying reps shouldn't work with coupon blogs, or giveaway blogs, just be careful that you don't let numbers make the call. While it would seem more profitable to hire a blogger that has 200,000 page views a month, and a bazillion twitter followers, every blog is different and they have to be carefully inspected. If you really want to get the most out of your campaign choose bloggers that you feel fit the campaign perfectly. This can take time and effort on your part, but the return will be much higher.
To the bloggers: The days of networks and reps choosing blogs based on numbers will soon come to a close (I pray) so try not to give in to the temptation to gain followers that will inflate your numbers. There are many quality articles out there about building your community with people who will actually care about what you have to say. These readers are more than numbers. They are the readers that will email about your posts, leave comments, and share your stuff via social media. Granted every follower won't share, and getting people to comment is harder than ever (unless you post something controversial) but focus your time and efforts on building your brand, your community, in a way that's true to who you are.
Over the past month and a half, I've been reading every article out there about growing a community the hard way, and growing it the quick and easy way. I can honestly say that for me personally, I like knowing that people are following me because they want to read my posts, and not because they could win a $100 gift card (and that's my personal opinion).
When I entered one of the many blogger contest link-up giveaways these are the followers I got:
They only post tweets about giveaways. That's it! I checked every single account and that's all they do. I doubt any of them have ever even visited my blog. While this may make me look good, it doesn't make me feel good.
As bloggers we all know that there are plenty of things we can do to up our following. We can pay, host these giveaways (which we also pay for), or we can spend hundreds of hours actually interacting with people to build a solid community of people that care about what we have to say.
The choice is yours, but I just want to encourage you to just write, share, and be active in communities. Those are the people that will stick around. Those are the people that will hear your voice and respond. Those are the lives you will touch.
As bloggers we have a voice. A chance to bring awareness, share tips, and help people. Regardless of what your goal is, I'm guessing you want to be heard. You want your voice to shine through. So write, be yourself, be professional, and don't give up!
My encouragement to you, is your time will come. Whether you are big or small, if you stay true to your voice, they will find you.
The good news is, there are some companies that are doing it right every time. Collective Bias, is my favorite company to work with because they understand the value of a voice. They understand the value of hard work, and they are putting their time and energy into training bloggers (free of charge) to build better blogs.
Find the networks and reps that understand your voice and work your butt off for them! It will pay off in the end!
Build a community that you can be proud of. Speak about the things you are passionate about. Don't give in.
Do your research, pay attention to what the numbers really show.
I just want to share my story, products I truly love, and helpful posts that people want and need to read. I don't want to waste anymore time trying to be "big" enough, and losing my voice in the process.
NOTE: I just want to add that I love Double Duty Divas, and appreciate their transparency.
What about you? Do you feel the constant pressure to "measure up"?