When and Why Should You Pay Bloggers or Influencers?

In our last post in our Digital PR Series we talked about the common mistake of PR practitioners in commoditizing bloggers and influencers. For this article we’re going to answer a related topic that’s definitely worth discussing in the local PR and digital industry: when should you pay bloggers or influencers? To answer this we will need to properly define what the exchange of value is, what is the unique value offered by influencers, and ultimately how do we measure success with them.

See Also: Digital PR Series

Let’s dive right into it.

Exchange of Value

In any deal, be it an x-deal or cash, there has to be an exchange of value. The PR agency or the client “pays” while the blogger or influencer provides value through their social media coverage, blog posts, or endorsements. You should only pay if the value you’re getting is equal or preferably more than the cash or x-deal amount that you’re providing the blogger or influencer. For you to be able to do this though you need to have a firm grasp of what is the unique value of using this channel and how do you measure it.

What is the Value of an Influencer vs TV, Radio, Print

The common mistake that marketers and PR practitioners make in Influencer or Blogger marketing is that they just look at the “Reach” of their campaign. “Reach” or the number of people who read and see the campaign is not the main selling point of influencers. If it’s Reach you’re after, you get more bang for your buck if you go with Facebook Ads, TV, and maybe even Radio. The understated and underpriced value of Influencers can be found in their name — INFLUENCE. The ability to get their fans and followers to act. Their ability to convert into sales.

Let me repeat that to emphasize it — the value of Influencers is their ability to convert. Ultimately they should be able to drive sales for your product because you’re buying into their credibility, authority, and authenticity.

You Might Also Want to Read: 5 Influencer Marketing Strategies for PH Brands

How do you Measure?

How do you measure the potential of an Influencer to convert and drive sales? It’s tricky and it will involve trial-and-error but there are key indicators that you can look at to help guide you make the right decisions. For example you can give your Influencers unique referral codes which customers can use in your brick-and-mortar or online stores. Apart from that though here are some key things you should watch out for:

Engagement per Post vs Follower Count. I’m not a fan of looking at the “followers” of Influencers or even the “Unique Views” of Bloggers. Why? Because both can be gamed, faked, and bought. What I look at is the engagement of the posts. How many likes, shares, hearts, and comments do they get PER post. If they have a really high follower count and the engagement is low it means that their “influence” is not that high.

Primary Domain of Influence. Take a look at which posts get high engagement because it shows their primary domain of influence. If most of the pics that get engagement are their semi-naked beach photos, don’t expect them to have massive influence in pushing smartphones. However if you see someone who gets a lot of questions, comments, and shares about his review of a gadget, then you hit a gold mine.

Give me Specific Numbers, Carlo. If it’s Instagram a good indicator is anywhere from 3%-5% engagement VS total follower base. If they have 9,000 followers then they should have posts that get 200-400 Likes. If they get it consistently then you know their credibility and engagement to their fan base is high. 1.5%-2% is still respectable while below 1% is low. Anyone who can get 10% and higher though is a breakout Influencer that you need to sign up ASAP. Those are very, very, very rare.

See Also: Instagram Marketing Basics for Filipino Businesses and Start-ups

For bloggers what I look for is their engagement on their Facebook Page. Facebook is less forgiving with their engagement numbers vs “Likes” base though. Anytime you can find a Page that has consistent 0.02% – 1% vs total follower/Likes base is already considered respectable. Beyond 1% is something I would already consider fantastic.

Traditional Media Coverage. A good sign of credibility and authority is if they’re being used by traditional media as resource persons. This usually happens in news programs where they need an expert to give their views or analysis on a relevant story. Morning programs also do a lot of lifestyle features and you can find a bloggers and IG’ers sometimes on-air showcasing the best restaurants, gadgets, and whatnot there.

Apart from traditional media you should also take a look at their participation in the industry. If they’re constantly being invited as a speaker or panelist in events then chances are they are respected by their peers and colleagues.

What if they game the numbers by buying Likes, Comments, Shares, etc?

That’s why it’s critical you have a way to track conversions like affiliate codes or coupons because that’s the evergreen and un-tamperable way to measure effectivity. You might not have this at the start but it will help if you build towards it.

So is it OK to Pay Bloggers and Influencers?

The answer has always been YES. The problem is that a lot of PR, agency, and brand folks don’t understand what they’re paying for and they often get far less value than what they paid. It’s all about the value exchange and ultimately let me just repeat that the strategic intent on why you’re getting Influencers is because they should be able to convert for you. If you’re after Reach, go do Facebook Ads instead.

Let me also stress a point for bloggers and influencers: you shouldn’t be afraid to be measured. Ultimately if your effectiveness can be proven, the length and depth of your partnership with brands will grow dramatically, especially if it can be tied to their revenue. They won’t see you anymore as an “expense” but as a true partner in building their business. It will be immensely mutually beneficial if this can be established.

This post is part of a series of articles on “Digital PR in the Philippines”. Here’s the complete set:

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Carlo Ople

Author Carlo Ople

Founder and writer of Unlocked.ph and for full disclosure I'm also the Vice-President for Digital Marketing Strategy of PLDT/Smart, the largest telco in the Philippines. Prior to this I co-founded a digital advertising agency (DM9 Digit) which we sold to Dentsu, the largest single branded agency in the world. I also co-founded one of the biggest tech websites in the country, Unbox (unbox.ph). Views do not represent PLDT/Smart and are purely my own.

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