Today, it seems like everyone and their dog has a blog. But believe it or not, the word blog wasn’t actually coined until 1999.
The first ever blog is claimed to be Links.net, created by American college student Justin Hall, who named it his ‘personal site’ back in 1994.
Since then, blogging has boomed; for many, it has resulted in the transition from a hobby to a career, turning passion in to profit.
In 2003, Google launched AdSense to connect bloggers and advertisers; Vlogging (video blogging) followed in 2006, thanks to the launch of YouTube; and by 2008, a new blog was created every single second of the day.
A study by Universal McCann reports more than three quarters of internet users now read blogs, with 900,000 blog posts going live daily in 81 languages.
Is it any surprise brands are seeking out bloggers to act as ambassadors?
Bloggers are now much more than just entertaining voices for the everyday – taking centre stage as they represent big industry names.
What is a brand ambassador?
A brand ambassador is a person appointed by an organisation to positively represent its identity: raising awareness, increasing sales and driving traffic.
Traditionally, celebrities and high-profile figures were paid to hold the title, but the modern-day brand ambassador is somewhat different.
Brands today want ‘real life people’ – bloggers with passion, who can write engaging copy to showcase their brand, products or services.
They may be paid, offered commission, or given a complimentary product or service in return for a review. These are “influencers” in the purest sense of the word: content creators who can legitimately influence the preferences of their audiences.
Blogging at its best
Teen vlogger Zoe Sugg launched Zoella in 2009: a fashion and beauty blog with a focus on photography. In less than a year, she’d gathered 1,000 followers, encouraging her to launch a sister YouTube channel, Zoella280390 (her birth date).
Seven years on, she has more than 10 million subscribers, with a total view count topping 700 million.
Her blogging success has led to big opportunities.
In 2014, she signed a two-book deal with Penguin Books. Her debut novel, Girl Online, achieved her the title of ‘highest first-week sales for a debut book’, selling 78,109 copies in seven days.
Zoella Beauty – a bath and beauty range – also launched the same year, exclusively stocked in Superdrug stores and online at Feel Unique.
Then in 2014, Zoe became the first digital ambassador for mental health charity Mind, with the goal of helping to stamp out the stigma around mental illness.
Bloggers: How to become brand ambassadors
Find your USP
What makes you stand out from the crowd? Analyse your blog stats and your social media interaction to see what posts are getting people talking. Once you’ve found your unique selling point, build on it.
Put yourself out there
Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you! Contact brands or PR agencies with suggestions for collaborations – what’s the worst that can happen? Be realistic, but have confidence!
Share your stats
Record the influence your brand has on site traffic and social media activity using Google Analytics. Speak to the brand beforehand to find out which stats they want you to share, so you know the expectations in advance.
Be one step ahead
As well as maintaining your established brand relationships, continue to search for upcoming campaign launches and releases to establish new brand partnerships.
Stay true to you
As much as you’ll want to impress the brand you’re blogging about, remember the site should represent your personality – that’s why your readers follow you – so don’t let a brand dictate what you write.
Brands: appointing a blogger to be a brand ambassador
It’s a three-way thing
To be successful, the brand, the blogger and the audience need to gain value. To ensure your brand gets the best possible representation, find a blogger who can create content to influence and engage, who fits your company ethos with a readership aligned to your target audience.
Give direction not dictation
Guide bloggers in the direction you want to lead your brand, but don’t control the content. Let them do their own thing – it’s what they’re good at.
Brand ambassadors have the ability to expose your brand to various social circles. Those who follow a blog already have trust in the author.
People buy from people
A recent survey revealed that bloggers are trusted more than celebrities, journalists, brands and politicians. Thanks to their fair and balanced reviews, they are regarded as the third most trustworthy source of information – behind only friends and family.
Bloggers and brands: Make sure it’s believable
Above all, make sure your posts are authentic and believable!
We are seeing bloggers and influencers quite obviously just promoting product after product, as if they use these items every day when in fact they’ve probably never used it before.
Bloggers: Stay loyal to yourself and only choose brands and products that suit you, or ones that you’re already a fan of and would recommend to your readers. Pretending to like something and encouraging your readers to purchase it can damage your reputation. People can lose trust, and you may lose your following.
A good example of this is Jess Shears, one of the Love Island 2017 contestants. Since leaving the villa, her social following has reached a huge 1 million followers on Instagram, and many brands have offered her opportunities to promote their products. She has quite obviously accepted, and her fans have started to lose trust:
Jess promoted this post on her Instagram page stating: “As always, I start my day with my @convitsuk sachet”. Many didn’t believe this to be true and shared their frustration in the comments. Despite the backlash, she continues to post promoted products on her page daily, causing even more people to see behind the lies. OK magazine even covered her promotional activity in a recent issue.
Brands: It is important not to imitate this marketing tactic as it simply doesn’t work, and it can damage your reputation. People are looking for authenticity when following social influencers, ambassadors, or brands online. This sort of behaviour can only tarnish that.