Bloggers and brands: who is responsible for ROI?

In this guest post, Hannah Demilta sets some guidelines for brands working with bloggers and asks who is responsible for the return in investment.

The blogger-brand relationship is a sticky issue in Australia. There are a variety of ways these partnerships are forming – from advertising, integration within PR campaigns, sponsored content and beyond. As marketers, we want to work with personal bloggers and allow our brand to sit comfortably within their network – which is never easy.

For some, working with bloggers might appear to be just another channel or new medium to share a message. However, when working with part-time hobby bloggers, we aren’t necessarily dealing with businesses. Communication should be frequent, and expectations need to be set on both sides.

I was at Blogopolis, a Nuffnang blogging conference in Sydney last weekend. A blogger, Lori from Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum, inspired this post when she asked a pressing question about working with advertisers. She had faced a situation where a company who had advertised on her blog called her. He was angry because he claimed he wasn’t getting any traffic from a banner ad he ran on her blog. She wanted to know how other bloggers would have handled that situation and what her response should have been.

The general consensus from the panel was that this responsibility falls to the advertiser. That as long as a blogger is being transparent in terms of audience numbers and experience of past engagement that a blogger can’t “make” someone click on an ad. So when asking the question “Are bloggers responsible for results (in the form of clicks, traffic or conversations) when they decide to monetise their blog and work with brands?”

My answer, in short, is no. I feel it’s the role of agencies to vouch for the credibility of our bloggers and influencers.

My view is that we can guarantee certain things from our bloggers in terms of sharing and readership. If we do our job in working with our influencers, people will click as a result. We are responsible for giving our influencers the best tools, resources and information we can do so they can do what they do best in their environment. However, we still don’t promise clicks and we certainly don’t make our bloggers promise this.

The advertiser or agency has some clear responsiblilities.

Understand and appreciate the blog environment. Part of that means providing appropriate content that will fuel conversations, entertain and add value to the blogger and their audience. The best content normally gets the best engagement.

Appreciate the environment. That means understanding that earned media requires you to let go of control, something marketing managers appear to struggle with.

And the blogger has responsibilities too:

Be transparent about their analytics and if they know, what the advertiser should expect in terms of engagement based on previous experience.

Clear disclosure of the brand’s involvement. This means being open and honest about the sponsored content or advertisement, and represent the campaign in a way that is appropriate to both the brand and your community.

While blogger engagement won’t be the right approach for every brand, I believe we’ll continue to see a trend of marketers jumping into these niche communities and conversations. Stronger communication can help ensure the best outcome for both the client, blogger and their readership.

Brands that can embrace these ideas when working in partnerships with bloggers can expect a better result in working toward their campaign objectives.

Hannah Demilta is general manager at Rocketman Media


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