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Engage Customers via the Blogosphere With Sponsored Posts and Giveaways

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Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest have proven to be invaluable resources for increasing brand awareness, attracting customers, tracking what customers have to say about your brand, and addressing complaints. Having a solid social media presence makes business sense.

However, one online area that some companies have not yet tapped into is the blogosphere. And no matter what your product is, there's sure to be a blog that would be a great fit for a solid partnership.

What Is a Sponsored Blog Post?

In the early days of advertising on blogs, companies would buy up ad space on a blog, with rates depending on the size of the ad. That process worked well for a while, but in today's more fast-paced Web environment, a more dynamic solution is needed.

Enter the sponsored blog post.

Savvy marketers are partnering with popular bloggers to sponsor posts that promote their brands or products. Once the partnership has been established, the blogger will write a post within certain guidelines that prominently showcases the brand. Usually the blogger is free to come up with topics as long as the company is clearly featured and linked to.

For example, in 2012 and 2013, Old Navy-sponsored a series of posts by blogger Heather Armstrong of featuring its clothing and accessories. In 2013, Alice Bradley of Finslippy wrote a post sponsored by Scribd, a book subscription service, to inform her readers about the ease and convenience of e-books.

An even better promotional tactic is the giveaway. Recently, Kath Younger, author of the Kath Eats Real Food blog, featured a sponsored giveaway of a Ninja blender. Kath compared and contrasted the Ninja and Vitamix blenders then held a random drawing to give a Ninja to one lucky reader. As you can imagine, that promotion was wildly popular and increased exposure for both the blogger and the Ninja brand.

How a Sponsored Post Can Increase Your Social Media Buzz

So why do these companies sponsor posts? For one thing, sponsored posts provide a much better bang for their advertising bucks. By partnering with a blogger who already has a sizable readership, a brand is exposed to a tremendous audience. That audience will then visit the company's website and follow the brand on Facebook and Twitter, thereby staying plugged in to what the company is doing. And if consumers like what they see, they'll re-post it to their own Facebook and Twitter accounts, spreading the brand even further.

By now, you are probably asking yourself, "How do I find the right blogger for my product?"

Certain sites, like Tomoson, specialize in helping bloggers and marketers find each other. To gauge exactly how well that marketing tactic is working, Tomoson conducted a survey of 1,000 bloggers to find out what the typical outcome of a sponsored post is. The site asked the bloggers how many times their posts were liked and shared on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest to find out how far these promotions were spreading.

The results speak for themselves.

As you can see, Facebook is the clear front runner in social media, closely followed by Twitter. The speed with which one post can race through Facebook and Twitter is astounding, so you definitely want to take advantage of that. Make sure that your company has a Facebook page and Twitter account so that bloggers and readers can link to you. You can go through the work of promoting your social media accounts yourself, or you can take advantage of popular blogs and let them help you spread your message.

Remember to find a blogging niche that your brand can fit into. For example, a baby toy manufacturer would not sponsor a post on a health and fitness blog! But other brands and products that are more general can fit into several niches. For example, a clothing company like Old Navy could potentially sponsor posts on parenting, fitness, or lifestyle blogs.

Sites like Tomoson allow you to list the promotion you would like to run so bloggers can bid on it. You can see what promotions those bloggers have run previously, how successful they were, what niche they specialize in, and the size of their readership, so that you can make an informed choice on which blogger to partner with.

Is It Expensive?

Tomoson's survey also showed 21% of bloggers will review a product for free and 51% of bloggers only charge from $10 to $50 for a paid promotion. So the majority of bloggers will help you promote your product for less than $50. Considering most of these bloggers have thousands of social followers, sponsoring bloggers in 2014 is a very inexpensive way to reach a large targeted audience.

Other resources for finding blogs include...

If you are eager to start sponsoring blog posts and have time, create an account on each. That way, you're sure to find plenty of bloggers eager to promote their platforms while also promoting your products. By writing reviews or running giveaways, they attract attention to both themselves and to your brand so that everyone wins. The more buzz they help you create, the bigger the return on your marketing investment will be!

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Jeff Foster is the CEO at Tomoson, an influencer marketplace that lets businesses connect with targeted, niche audiences and allows influencers to get paid for posting sponsored content.

LinkedIn: Jeff Foster

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