Unsere Interview-Reihe geht 2016 in eine weitere Runde. Seit Anfang 2014 stellen wir Influencern und Unternehmenssprechern Fragen rund um das Thema Influencer Relations. Nach und nach ergeben die Antworten beider Seiten wichtige Erkenntnisse, wie Influencer und Unternehmen näher zusammenrücken können. Ziel unserer Serie ist es, einen Status Quo in Sachen Influencer Relations festzuhalten.
In Teil 31 im Interview: Brian Sacawa, Gründer vom Men’s Lifestyle-Blog He Spoke Style.
1. Do companies regularly contact you as part of their blogger relations?
Yes. We have been very fortunate to have developed a unique and trusted brand voice that resonates with men around the world. This has led to many opportunities to work with a number of leading luxury fashion and lifestyle brands.
Our success has been a combination of providing a high-quality product that is both useful and relevant to people and having a mature voice and professional aesthetic that separates us from the herd of other bloggers. We are not a “look at me” kind of blog – we are providing a service as well as inspiration to our readers.
From a brand perspective, I think the one thing we offer is that we aim to create content that is permanent – i.e. SEO-driven and optimized – so the brand message lives on and is positioned as strongly as possible. We don’t create what I like to call, “disposable” content. We are playing the long game for our brand and for the brands we work with.
2. What kind of experiences do you have in dealing and working with companies?
Overall, our experiences working with brands have been overwhelmingly positive. This is because we are selective and only work with those brands whose voice and aesthetic match our own. We’re not going to work with a brand if our vision and goals are not aligned with theirs.
3. What is the biggest mistake companies can make when talking to or dealing with bloggers?
I have a few.
First, if a pitch email doesn’t begin with my name – e.g. “Hi!” or “Hey there! – I delete it immediately. I get so many pitches on a daily basis that if the brand can’t take the time to personalize their email to me, I don’t have time to read it.
Next, thinking that a blogger is so hard-up for story ideas that they’ll publish anything. Some will, but I’ll wager that somewhere down the line they’re going to run up against credibility and integrity issues with their audience.
Finally, not allowing the blogger to create content that communicates with their audience in an authentic way. We know our audiences and what they respond to. A brand may have an idea of what they want to get across with a certain campaign, but they can’t tell a blogger exactly how to do it. Well, I guess technically they can, but that doesn’t make for a good relationship or believable content.
4. If you were a representative of a company: What would you do, in order to strengthen the relationship between bloggers and companies?
The best partnerships are those that have a clearly defined brand message and the blogger is then given the latitude and creative freedom to create content that they know will resonate with their audience. In our experience, at least, these are the best, most fun and most organic/authentic programs.
As a brand representative, it’s important to cede a certain amount of creative control to the blogger – you’re engaging their services because you feel they resonate with your brand (and also because they deliver a certain amount of influence outside of the brand’s reach).
Be clear with the expectations and monitor progress, but don’t be heavy-handed or try to micromanage.
5. How should companies address bloggers? What should companies pay close attention to when starting with blogger relations?
Use the terms, “Sir” or “Madam.” That’s a joke!
I would say that showing a genuine interest and concern for the blogger and their team – not just treating them like hired help. Make them feel like a part of the brand and its vision and communicate positive reinforcement so they know you like the job they are doing. Sounds elementary, but it doesn’t always happen.
6. In my opinion, the biggest benefit in including blogger relations in communication is…
Developing relationships that lead to lasting partnerships and brand loyalty. Again, back to my idea of “disposable” content – a one-off collaboration might net a brand a certain amount of reach, but for a blogger who has a devoted and engaged audience, a continued partnership creates something deeper.
When that audience sees the blogger work continuously with a certain brand, it carries more weight, authority and authenticity. Like, oh so-and-so blogger is always showing Brand X on his blog – I really believe this is a part of their lifestyle and that makes me want it more.
7. In my opinion, the biggest downside in including blogger relations in communication is…
When brands think they control everything a blogger does. We’re creatives and story-tellers and we’ve supposedly been engaged to provide that service. If a brand wants to exert an inordinate amount of control over the blogger’s product, then they should just pay for more banner advertising instead of asking for an authentic story when that’s not what they really want.
8. What do you think is the biggest accomplishment of bloggers? What did blogs achieve in your opinion?
The biggest accomplishment of bloggers has been to respect the work that they do and to not be pushed around by companies who feel entitled to a share of the audience that the blogger has worked hard to cultivate and nurture.
Blogs have given regular people the ability to tell stories and be creative, while reaching millions of people around the world. And as a result, they’ve given brands an entirely new way to connect with consumers in an extremely authentic way.
9. Where do you see the blogosphere in regards to reach and influence in the next 1-3 years in the USA?
I think the next 1-3 years are going to be incredibly interesting. Many bloggers who became popular over the past 3-5 years have more or less abandoned their actual blogs in favor of moving to, and focusing on, any number of social platforms. This is a dangerous move, in my opinion.
First of all, social platforms come and go and many of them have very tenuous ways of quantifying success – in fact, some have no way of measuring reach and effectiveness. Social content is also disposable; one swipe and it’s gone forever and so is all the money a brand spent for that one Instagram post.
Unless these types of influencers transition to some kind of celebrity, they’re going to be left hanging out to dry. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the bloggers/influencers that are popular now throw in the towel because they’ve been left sitting in a three-legged chair that will eventually get knocked over.
The ones who survive will have a complete digital portfolio, in which their blog – the only place that lasting content can be created – serves as the cornerstone of their offerings. Of course, a robust social presence is necessary, but social media should serve to amplify blog content.
10. What advice would you want to give to representatives of companies?
Do your research and engage bloggers who truly embody what your brand stands for and who, as we say in America, “have their shit together.” Then reach out to them to create lasting, long term relationships built on shared values and aesthetics.
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