Bloggers - Helping brands reach a younger audience

Whatever your interests, there is a blog for you. I love lifting weights, and can credit blogs as the source of my obsession.

Bloggers can attract large followings and a celebrity-like status. It is therefore unsurprising that brands are increasingly working with them to harness their influence over consumers. Bloggers are particularly useful for brands looking to engage younger consumers. For starters, bloggers are often young themselves; three quarters of blogs are written by under 35s. Secondly, the platforms they work across are populated with young people; 90% of Instagram users are under 35. Furthermore, these Instagram users seem open to brand engagement with around half of users following brands. By partnering with bloggers, brands have an opportunity to reach and engage this responsive young audience.

There are a number of ways that brands can employ bloggers’ influence to engage consumers. For example, simply getting the right bloggers to wear or use your product can have a positive impact thanks to their celebrity-like influence. Adidas recently collaborated with blogger and personal trainer Zanna Van Dyke, showcasing their new collection in workout videos that were shared with her 150,000+ Instagram followers. In addition, brands can showcase product in a ‘real-life’ context by hosting events, inviting bloggers and encouraging them to share their experiences – and the product – with their followers.

Whilst bloggers can be a valuable asset for brands, there are a number of challenges brands need to consider and manage. Although the challenges below draw on examples from the health and fitness sector, they can be applied to brands working with bloggers across all sectors.

1) Understanding the blogger-consumer relationship

Having followed bloggers’ lives on social media, many consumers feel close to those they follow and trust their opinions. This sense of closeness undoubtedly contributes to bloggers’ influence; the recommendations from someone you trust are a strong driver to purchase. Furthermore, from our research into digitally savvy audiences, we found that people are put off by brands that try to disguise their advertising as something else; instead preferring transparency and honesty. It is therefore vital that this trust is maintained with any brand-blogger partnership, something that can be achieved by clearly labelling sponsored content. By being transparent in this way, consumers don’t feel like they are being deceived with disingenuous recommendations. The challenge comes in creating transparent sponsored content that fits effortlessly with a blogger’s existing posts so that it does not feel forced.

2) Partnering with the right blogger for your brand

Brands can help to achieve effortless, unforced sponsored content by ensuring they partner with bloggers that hold similar values. For example, health-food brand Linwoods has forged a successful partnership with health blogger Hazel Wallace aka The Food Medic, who has over 130,000 Instagram followers. If brand and blogger do not share the same values, sponsored content can feel fake and be a turn-off for consumers.

3) Ensuring the credibility of any blogger you consider partnering with

Brands need to be confident in the credibility of bloggers they partner with. Because anyone can become a blogger, many offer advice based on personal experience rather than qualifications. This lack of regulation was showcased in the documentary “Clean Eating Dirty Secrets” where a number of bloggers were discredited by health professionals. Arguably those criticised tend to offer more extreme opinions and whilst likely to be a minority, they do represent a potential risk for brands. Brands must research bloggers, their values, and their audience to ensure those they look to work with offer a sustainable and credible partnership.

By being mindful of the challenges outlined above, there are big opportunities for brands to harness the influence of bloggers. Brands must do their research to ensure they partner with qualified, credible bloggers who hold similar values and ensure that promotional content is transparent. But once established, blogger partnerships represent a great opportunity for brands to engage with consumers, particularly the younger generation.