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A Woman on the Inside: Collaborating with Bloggers and Vloggers

By: Michelle Breyer
Posted: May 29, 2014, from the June 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

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However, that doesn’t necessarily negate these reviews. YouTuber Shannon Teresa Boodram believes what she and her peers provide is valuable—and that brands should pay for it. “When you have people willing to do something with a lot of effectiveness for free, it is dangerous to everyone who makes a livelihood off of communicating a brand’s message,” Boodram comments. “My effort equals the brand’s effort.”

But Boodram also says she knows firsthand that getting too financially tied to one brand can be tricky. She notes that she did have an exclusive relationship with one hair care brand after she developed a good relationship with the owners. However, when the brand’s products stopped working for her, it put her in an awkward position.

“First and foremost, I have a commitment to be honest about what works for me,” Boodram says. “If you feel pressure from a brand, it’s probably time to put distance between you and them because you are not the brand, and if you become a part of it, you have lost your relevance as a blogger.”

There is no fine line, she says. “There is a thick, black, gaping hole. If I feel the line is fine, I have already lost your trust,” Boodram insists.

Lasting Engagement

Although bloggers and vloggers must be approached differently than the more traditional types of advertising—and each certainly has their own quirks, personalities, audiences and personal product preferences to deal with—marketing professionals must still evaluate blogger and vlogger effectiveness against other media. Adama Sesay, digital content and commerce manager for hair care brand Ouidad, says Ouidad relies on Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Hootsuite to measure engagement on social media content and traffic to www.ouidad.com—which are the same metrics she uses to measure the success of PR and paid media placements. It helps give a fuller picture of a marketing plan’s effectiveness.

Brands also look at quantitative measures like traffic driven to websites, actions taken by readers and viewers (such as sharing and reposting), video views, comments and so on. “The answer is always sales,” says Caroline Marchionna, director of marketing for Chicago-based hair care company Ecoco Inc. “Whether an audience likes a company’s efforts, its advertising or how well the product works, the audience chooses what they support with their pocketbook.”

The reality is, the marketing dollars moving toward the blogosphere aren’t likely to go away, especially as influence of bloggers and vloggers on purchasing behavior continues to grow. It may soon even rival traditional forms of advertising such as TV and magazines as society increasingly looks to one another for their product opinions, rather than marketing messages developed by the brands.

But the success of this model will depend on the restraint and integrity on the part of both brands and bloggers and vloggers to ensure money doesn’t distract from being honest about a product. Because if brands truly can “buy bloggers,” everybody loses—the brands, the bloggers and especially consumers.

Michelle Breyer is president and co-founder of TextureMedia, one of the world’s largest social media hair care platforms. It works to empower, engage and educate its multicultural community of female influencers. Based in Austin, Texas, TextureMedia has an audience of more than 30 million unique visitors a year to its NaturallyCurly, CurlyNikki, CurlMart and CurlStylist websites.