Blogs are the most versatile of online platforms when it comes to publishing business level content. Cultivating a blog can deliver immediate and long-term value which can be measured in a number of ways. Blogs are appropriate to most B2C, and probably all B2B organisations.
The business features of a blog are hard to go past:
Blogs have simple and self-contained content management systems (CMS) – only low level training is required to publish, edit or delete a post.
Blog posts can incorporate all media types: text, images, video and audio.
A blog’s visual elements can be fully customised to reflect an organisation’s branding livery.
All blog posts are automatically indexed by Google, able to be served in standard search results for years to come.
Visitors can ask questions or leave comments on your posts that can be responded to by the blog owner.
Comments on posts are easily moderated whenever ready.
When integrated to your website as a sub-domain or sub-directory a blog serves as a magnet for qualified search traffic to your primary web property.
Past posts within a blog are quickly discoverable by visitors by browsing categories, tags, searching on keywords or viewing ‘related posts’.
Visitors can opt to subscribe for email notification of new posts, or to new comments on any post.
It’s easy to generate permanent URL’s (permalinks) to specific posts – great for sending to customers or clients for pre or after-sales service support.
Hyperlinks can be inserted within a post to cross-reference other blog posts or website pages.
Nobody but the blog owner can mine the content, its traffic or subscribers. The blog is fully controlled by the owner and not a third party.
No third party advertising.
Google Analytics can be hooked in to measure which topics are generating the most interest, and which posts are contributing to leads or sales.
All posts are directly sharable to the major social media platforms by others.
I frequently use other people’s digital work across my various web properties – mostly image based content, and all for free with the implicit blessing of the original creators. I do this under Creative Commons Licensing.
CC Licensing is a sub-set of copyright. Is provides flexibility for digital content publishers to state how their works and ideas can be copied, modified or remixed, and within a commercial or non-commercial context. You can view full descriptions of the different Creative Commons licences here. The commonality among the licences is attribution – you must explicitly credit or reference the creator of the work you’re using.
Sourcing images from Flickr, here’s one example of how it works.
I’m always on the look-out for interesting (read non-cheesy photostock) images and illustrations for my course pages. Let’s say I want an edgy shot of the iconic Vinegar Skipping Girl neon sign in Melbourne. I go to Flickr and run a search for ‘skipping girl melbourne’. I then run an advanced search and tick the ‘Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content’ box at the bottom of the page. Searching again filters in only images sitting under a CC licence.
I find an appealing shot of the skipping girl against an emerald sky background:
I download the image and adapt it – I might crop, compress or change its orientation. The CC licence associated with this image specifically states I’m allowed to ‘remix’ or adapt the work in these and other ways. The image now sits prominently at the top of my course page:
But importantly the attribution appears within the same page:
I have both attributed the creator by using their Flickr account name and provided an active link back to the original work.
There are numerous online platforms which allow content creators to publish their digital media works online under Creative Commons licencing. Look out for this symbol or variations:
And of course you can publish any of your own creative works under the CC licencing for others to use or remix. What goes around comes around.
This post is by my Blogger Connect business partner, Gaynor Alder, the original post can be found here.
With the growing power and influence that bloggers have with consumers, combined with their highly engaged audiences, brands are wise to be forming advertising partnerships with blogs.
But navigating a rapidly evolving and dynamic digital landscape, with ever changing rules of engagement, can often raise more questions than answers as brands and bloggers try to keep up with each other.
But, what it does present is an opportunity to be creative with your marketing campaigns to powerfully connect your brand with a blog’s highly engaged audience. Whilst the below is an overview of traditional and some more creative advertising collaborations with blogs, you have the freedom to explore, approach and liaise with bloggers to create exciting, new and dynamic marketing campaigns.
// Sponsored Posts
You supply the blogger with a brief and associated links you would like included in a tailored article on their blog. The brief should include number of words, specific keywords for links and a direction for the content.
The blogger should be given freedom to write with their own voice and to be creative to ensure that it sounds like editorial and not advertorial, so as to best connect your brand with their audience. The blogger will need to place a disclosure statement within their post, to indicate that you paid them to write about your brand.
// Social Media
With many bloggers having a large social media reach and connecting with their followers on a daily basis, advertising directly via their social media audience is a great way to get your brand’s message across.
You can liaise with the blogger to create a content strategy, with an agreed number of messages/links, posting times and how to word your messages for best traction with their audience. It’s advisable to create a content schedule with ample time frame between posting of messages so that it feels more organic and not spammy. Because no one likes that now, do they?
Bloggers with large amounts of traffic who have an audience within your key demographic, are a brilliant resource for you to tap into to gain marketing insights for your brand. You can liaise with the blogger to create a specific number of polling questions, length and best placement on the blog, whether it be on their sidebar or within an article.
If content is required to be written by the blogger to accompany the poll within an article, this will more than likely attract a higher fee than a poll just placed within their sidebar. However, embedding a poll within a highly engaging article is more likely to have traction than a simple poll on the sidebar. This will depend on the polling questions being asked and how compelling they are to the blog’s readership.
You can also negotiate with the blogger to include the poll in both an article and on the sidebar.
Because of the personalised connection bloggers have with their audience, bloggers have become strong market influencers. Recent social media conversation has indicated that many readers will buy products and brands that bloggers have reviewed on their sites, because they have come to trust in the blogger’s opinions.
Reviews can take place in a number of ways. Some bloggers will accept product in exchange for a review, whilst others will charge for the review and either keep the product or return it to the brand. Whilst many bloggers will blog for lipstick, others place a higher value on their time and increased reach.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with bloggers blogging about your product in exchange for product, many will be insulted by requests from PRs and brands to spend their time writing in return for a free bottle of dish washing detergent. That’s not a good return on their investment, nor does it respect their audience who they have worked hard to build, often after many years of blogging without income.
Reviews can be on their blog, but many bloggers have large audiences on their you tube channels. Video reviews give the reader a chance to really connect with the blogger’s personality and demonstrate how your products can be used in viewer’s lives.
Another way to promote your brand is to offer your product to a blogger to giveaway to their audience. With a large number of blogs now running competitions that are promoted on social media, it is a good idea to offer a prize of good value to ensure traction, conversion of entries and thus maximised exposure of your product or service.
Many blogs will not charge for you to offer product to their audience, however many will as again you are leveraging off their readership and it takes the blogger time to write the competition article.
You should also discuss with the blogger whether your product/service will be featured exclusively within the competition or alongside other brands. You can also create targeted entry methods that include social media following or newsletter sign up.
However, with or without targeted entry methods, your brand will experience an increased level of exposure as competitions always generate spikes in traffic. Because, hey, who doesn’t want to win free stuff? But remember, the prize you are offering must be of good value and the easier it is for people to enter, the more successful the competition will be.
Personally, I have turned away from newsletter sign ups and social media following for the future direction of advertising on my magazine, and moving towards more creative entry methods for high value prizes, which open the door for more fun and interactive social media engagement and forwarding of the brand within my audience.
// Banner Advertising
Banner advertising is one of the most traditional forms of advertising with a blog. It’s pretty straightforward. You supply the blog with an image and they add it to specific places on their blogs. Media kits will detail varying placement options and banner sizes, with varying costs according to key traffic sections on blogs. Just like a newspaper, above the fold is always best.
You should also check how many page impressions your banner will receive during your advertising period. Some blogs will offer you 100% of the page impressions, whilst others may rotate advertisements within the same space. You can weigh this up with the number of unique & page views the blog receives, in order to determine how much exposure your banner will receive.
Where possible, you should consider designing a banner that visually resonates with their audience, versus just supplying the same banner to every blog you advertise with.
// Brand Ambassadorships
Brand Ambassadorships provide you the opportunity to align your brand with a blogger who represents your brand’s values. Whilst there are not specific guidelines for brand ambassadorships, this does give you the opportunity to tailor a package to promote your brand via various channels, which can include content creation, social media marketing, speaking engagements and event appearances.
Bloggers will not typically have this included in their media kit, but this does not mean they are not open to a brand ambassadorship.
// Affiliate Advertising
There are many affiliate platforms available for you to upload your banner for bloggers to publish on their sites. You can choose to approve which bloggers applications you want to approve, or allow instant approval for the blogger to be able to download your banner for their blog.
When their readers click on your banner and purchase your products, the blogger will receive a commission from the sale. The affiliate agency will also charge you to become an affiliate.