Brands failing to cash in on blogger influence, research suggests

A survey by blogging community BritMums, in partnership with comms consultancy Hill+Knowlton Strategies, has revealed that UK brands are not engaging effectively with bloggers.

The UK blogosphere currently commands an estimated £21m in fees from brand partnerships – not including free products, experiences and services – but in a recent survey of more than 350 ‘mum bloggers’, only 13 per cent said brands and agencies knew how to work with bloggers.

Eighty-one per cent of bloggers heard from brands in the past year and 71 per cent are approached by up to 20 brands per week.

For 78 per cent of respondents, less than a fifth of these pitches made it into their blog, while 20 per cent did not publish any of the brand content at all.

That is not to say brands have a shortage of interested partners; 90 per cent of bloggers are keen to work with them, and half believe such partnerships are a "good source of content". 

More than half of bloggers said they influenced reader purchases, and a quarter believed their blog was as influential as traditional media.

Where brands fail is in how they approach bloggers, who are well aware that they are different from traditional media. Only 21 per cent said they were recognised accordingly.
Claire Candler, report author and managing director and head of Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Marketing to Mums, said: "Brands and agencies need to recognise it’s not a one-size-fits-all when executing a campaign. Bloggers expect to be treated differently to journalists."

More specifically, bloggers want a relevant, well-informed approach tailored specifically to them, with brands demonstrating an effort to read their blogs and understand their interests.

The most common faux pas committed by brands is "pitching an idea that is not relevant to the blog", which also ties in with another item on the list: brands not bothering to "read the blog or understand what the blogger is interested in".

Bloggers, like journalists, also did not like being sent "blanket generic emails" or standard press releases.  Brands should note that a third of bloggers expect to be paid for writing about them – and that a third will write a negative review even if they receive compensation. 

Improving relations with bloggers is in a brand’s best interest, as the current average page visits per month is 14,200, a 14 per cent increase on last year. 

While this is not as broad as the reach of traditional media, part of the pay-off is that bloggers lend authority, ‘relatability’ and authenticity to brand storytelling. 

Candler said: "With personal stories driving the most engagement, brands would be well advised to consider how their proprietary content can translate into a truly authentic (and emotional) narrative from a blogger."

The report found that brands’ blogger programmes need to be "more thoughtful, better informed and better targeted", and bloggers should be thought of as partners in the storytelling process rather than mere mouthpieces.

Susanna Scott, managing director and co-founder of BritMums, said: "Each year the community gets bigger, learns more and becomes more savvy. Brands are also becoming smarter in how they work with bloggers – but clearly, as the report shows, we are not quite there yet."

Commenting on the findings, Candler said: "The survey illustrates just how much of a battleground the mummy blogosphere has become, with brands fighting for their attention and advocacy, investing heavily, but failing to unlock the true value of these relationships. The common mistakes and the extent to which brand communication is misfiring with this audience certainly make for uncomfortable reading. Now it’s time to play catch-up on working more effectively with these powerful women – both as consumers and influencers – if we’re to leverage their ability to unlock the prized ‘mummy pound’."

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