As a professional blogger who has many reviews ranking on the first page of Google, I’ve been working with brands for years now. From small mom and pop brands to the largest multinationals, from PR agencies to freelancers, I’ve worked with all kinds. And more often than not, I’ve been dismayed at how brands approach paid reviews. Here are some things that brands can improve upon if they want more value for their money.
Sending a Sample is NOT Payment
This has been a tussle for the longest time between a reviewer and the brand. Sending a sample or product for a review is not payment. The blogger spends a lot of time in trying, photographing and crafting a review for your product. That time has to be paid for, not to mention you have to pay for the platform where you wish to showcase the review.
Planting ‘Honest’ Reviews
A person can smell a planted review from a mile. Trust me. If you think that you are paying a blogger and hence must demand a positive review then you have got the whole paid review wrong.
You pay for the review only because you want an accomplished blogger to share their honest views on their platform. If your product needs changes then that feedback will do you good instead of stymieing it and passing off something you wrote as a review. Honest reviews that deliver value to the target audience are more appreciated and work better for the brand in the long run. That is not to say that the brand must intervene if the review is unnecessarily rude or seems overtly biased.
Why They Must Pay
Payment=compensation for blogger’s time and effort to put up a credible review. It does not imply an advertorial. A blogger aligns their carefully built reputation and credibility when endorsing your product.
You are paying them for their knowledge, for their integrity and for the access they provide to a targeted, engaged audience. In short, pay them for the value they bring to your brand. And please offer cash not vouchers or product samples. I wonder if brands offer television channels who air their ads vouchers. Then why should the same ethics not apply to bloggers? I find it ridiculous that there are expectations that bloggers should review something for free.
Not Understanding Numbers
These days we can buy followers on almost all social media channels. Statistics must be analyzed from an all-round perspective. I see a number of PR agencies just looking at numbers and not understanding what they mean.
What is the use of social following of thousands if there is no engagement? Check a blogger for how the posts do, the number of comments, the quality of comments, how high do similar blog posts rate? This review I did for Flintobox is among the highest viewed posts on my blog with thousands of page views and counting. Can you imagine the world of good it did to the brand? This is a very highly rated review on the food blog on google’s first page.
Not Targeting Correctly:
I’ve noticed brands goofing up a lot in this regard. I own two blogs and the older one which is a personal blog is very highly rated as it is older and more acclaimed. My food and fitness blog is relatively younger and in its 4th year now. But this blog has climbed exponentially in the past months since it went self-hosted.
Recently I did a review on the blog that went viral. It ranks on page 1 of google much higher than other blogs in a similar domain. There are many other posts on this blog that have climbed the search engine ranking in a short time. But still a lot of food brands/food products still insist on getting a post done on my main blog. The targeting is much more valuable when on the food blog but they do not understand. Look beyond the numbers. Understand them.
Not Investing in Relationships
Just like every other phase in life, building a relationship with a blogger/influencer works well for the brand.
There are brands I’ve worked a number of times with over the years and it is a mutual win-win as the credibility of the blogger’s own experience rubs on to create positivity for the brand. If the blogger sees you as genuine, then the reviews are even more sterling.
Not Sending an Intelligent Pitch
First of all, get the name of the blogger right and do at least skim through the blog before you praise their work. Dear Influencer/blogger reflects that you have not done your homework correctly.
Remember that most good bloggers receive a number of pitches daily and sometimes a bad pitch gets deleted immediately. Know what you want from the blogger. Most bloggers can give you out-of-the-box solutions if you’d share what you want from the review.
Not Paying on Time
This leaves a very bad taste in the mouth of bloggers when they are made to run around for their hard-earned money for months.
Please have clear payment policies and stick to them. A brand may not realize but a single tweet or social media update may mar their reputation just because they don’t pay in time. Word of mouth from a credible blogger counts for a lot.
Do-follow Links and Disclaimers
Many brands erroneously ask for do-follow linkbacks that will eventually hurt them with manual actions taken by google. The blogger can lose their high ranking if they have many do-follow links which are for paid/sponsored posts.
So be cautious before asking for such links. Also don’t ask the blogger to not tag the post as Sponsored post or put up similar disclaimers. It reflects upon the integrity of the blogger and the audience will feel cheated if they read a sponsored post in the garb of a normal post. Best to have it out there.
Finally, know what exactly a sponsored post/review with a credible blogger will deliver for you. It will help you generate buzz, give you good search traffic for years to come and will help your brand when the blogger’s honest experience helps their community to make an informed choice about your brand. It is imperative that the brand choose a blogger wisely. It helps to browse their website for other reviews to understand the quality of their work.
Hopefully these tips will help both the PR agencies and the brands they work for to handle their reviews more optimally.
Do you have any thoughts to share or points to add here?
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