A few days ago, a blog post called “Dear Mommy Blogger” made a lot of waves in the influencer marketing world. The blogger, Josi Denise, used to run a site called The American Mama, which she has now taken offline and called “fake nonsense.” Her post tells mom bloggers to do the same: shut it down and move on. Her reasons, in a nutshell, are:
- Mommy blogs are terrible, forced and fake, and no one reads them
- Brands that do influencer marketing don’t vet or value the bloggers they work with; they simply want tons of cheap, positive product reviews
She goes into a lot more detail about her own experience. Being pulled in a thousand directions by brands looking for cheap marketing. Reviewing product after product you don’t believe in but feeling manipulated into writing a glowing review. Saying, “For the right price, I’ll work with anyone and say anything on my blog.”
She’s right; this does sound awful. But it also sounds like the polar opposite of the type of influencer marketing we believe in. Here’s why.
Faking it doesn’t help anyone.
This type of “let’s work with anyone and everyone” approach is all wrong – for the bloggers, the brands and the readers. When we work with brands on a campaign, we spend a lot of time thinking through who the audience is and what influencers would be a great match. We don’t want bloggers who say “yes” to every request that comes their way, whether or not it fits with their values and interests. This type of blogger loses credibility quickly.
Influencers have to believe in the brand – and their own words.
In our thorough vetting process, we look for influencers who are passionate, authentic and focused. They’ve built a relationship with their audience, and they insist on being honest with them. They won’t work with just any brand – but when they do, they are 100% on board and genuinely excited about sharing the partnership with their audience. This is how we know we’ve found a good fit.
People do read blogs, but they have to trust the bloggers.
Sure, there are bloggers out there selling their testimonials to the highest bidder. But those aren’t the influencers who have loyal followings and real authority in their niche. There are plenty of blogs – parenting or otherwise – that do have a devoted readership. They’ve built trust with their audience over time, and this is what keeps people coming back. When bloggers like this work with a brand, they know their readers expect their honest opinions. They’re careful to be selective about their partners, and they find ways to integrate products into their content in a natural, relevant way.
For example, Lindsay Ostrum, who runs the Pinch of Yum blog and Food Blogger Pro, does this brilliantly in her sponsored recipe posts. The main goal is always to share a delicious recipe with her readers, and the product supports that. In a gnocchi recipe post sponsored by pasta brand DeLallo, she talks about how she tried one type of gnocchi that didn’t work visually for the recipe, then finally settled on a different type that she liked better. This kind of transparency lets her readers know she’s not compromising her standards just for a paycheck.
Molly Yeh, creator of the My Name is Yeh food blog (which won Saveur’s Blog of the Year award in 2015) posts gorgeous recipes, some of which are sponsored by brands. But you’d have a hard time telling which ones, except for a few lines at the end letting her readers know (like in this Passover cake recipe, sponsored by King Arthur Flour). The food always comes first.
In short, the success of influencer marketing depends completely on the approach. If you do it thoughtfully and with integrity, it benefits brands, bloggers and readers. If not, you end up with that “fake nonsense” Josi Denise is raging against.