Are They Bloggers? Or Celebrities?

by · April 20, 201238 comments

The coolest thing has been happening lately, and it’s making me feel really special. Suddenly I know people who are in ads. And not just any ad – major, national brands. I feel like I’m brushing with celebrity – and yet, these people aren’t traditional celebrities, they’re bloggers. And they happen to be friends of mine.

There is an escalating trend for brands to feature bloggers, mainly parenting/lifestyle bloggers (formerly known as mom bloggers – a term you all know I hate), in print and even some television ads. I think this is insanely cool, and not just because I know these people. It’s cool because it values the blogger as an influencer in a way that they haven’t been, up to now. Bloggers are being asked to make appearances on behalf of brands and to appear in advertisements, and that’s just. plain. cool.

Ana Flores Spanglish Baby Coolwhip Ad

You may ask, okay, but are these bloggers getting paid for their appearances and ads? To be honest, I haven’t asked them. I am going to assume that, given that the bloggers I’ve seen featured recently are all smart, savvy businesswomen who are running small media empires, that they have found a way to get compensated for their time and likeness in a manner that suits them: financially or otherwise.

For marketers, this trend is borne out of some actual research. BlogHer’s 2011 Social Media study suggested that consumers preferred marketing messages from bloggers they knew over a celebrity ad, and that 53% of women blog readers have purchased a product based on a blog recommendation. Particularly in the worlds of fashion and beauty, bloggers are wielding power to encourage purchases in a far more direct and measurable way than a celebrity ad or endorsement ever can.

BlogHer’s most recent research, the 2012 Social Media study, goes even further and compares consumer trust in other forms of social media – including Pinterest and Facebook – and found that a sponsored, disclosed review on a bloggers’ site earns more trust than a Facebook friends campaign or a celebrity endorsement. And trust in those blogs drive purchase intent for many product categories.

Audrey McClelland for P&G

If bloggers can truly move the needle for brands in the trust and purchase intent departments, why don’t more brands work with bloggers?

The answer, of course, is complicated. I’ve written a lot about the problems that PR departments and agencies have with social media, and that’s certainly part of the problem: that PR departments are not set up to develop advertising or integrated marketing campaigns, which is where this new blogger-brand relationship is headed for some brands. A brand wishing to use bloggers instead of celebrities must either have a creative and clever ad agency, or a very savvy PR department or agency, whose budgets cross borders and who can work together in a really coordinated way.

I think it’s time that bloggers step up to the plate, too. I do know many bloggers who understand their value to brands, but I also know many who dramatically underestimate what they can bring to the table when they work with brands. That’s not to say that every blogger should command $500 for a sponsored post; rather, I think that bloggers should get creative in thinking about the kinds of work they can do with brands, and brands should do the same. Hopefully they’ll come up with interesting projects they can do together, beyond the sponsored post, like hosting events together, creating editorial and resourceful brand content, and yes, having bloggers endorse products in ads.

By the way, those ads above? They feature my friends Ana Flores from Spanglish Baby, Audrey McClelland from MomGenerations, and Esther Crawford.  I’m so proud of each of you and can’t wait to see what you inspire in other bloggers and brands.

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About Stephanie Schwab

Stephanie Schwab

Stephanie Schwab is the Principal of Crackerjack Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in social media planning and execution. Stephanie is also the founder of the Digital Family Summit, the first-of-its-kind conference for tween bloggers and content creators and their families. Throughout her 20-year career, she has developed and led marketing and social media programs for top brands and has presented on social media and e-commerce topics at numerous conferences and corporate events. Stephanie writes about social media at CrackerjackMarketing.com, sometimes hangs out at Google+, and tweets @stephanies.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://twitter.com/bornat25 Danasia

    This is a great article. It really motivates me to keep blogging and networking. Thanks! 

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      Danasia, you keep blogging! Thanks for reading.

  • greenandcleanmom

    Love it! I appeared in ads for a brand I am an ambassador for and I cannot speak for these other lovely ladies but yes I was paid. The ad appears in All You and Women’s day. I love how brands are doing this! Don’t these ladies look great?

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      So exciting! I think it’s so cool to see all of these endorsements happen. Congrats.

  • http://www.foodiecitymom.com/ Kimberly/Foodie City Mom

    Purely by accident (I was being paid to cover the brand event as a blogger), I ended up in a brand’s seasonal national commercial. I must say that all combined, I ended up making almost 5 figures from speaking less than 2 lines (?!) It’s amazing what unexpected opportunities blogging brings about…

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      Wow, Kimberly, that is fantastic! I love that you were getting compensated anyway for an interesting, valuable engagement, and then that turned into the paid endorsement. Hurrah!

    • http://www.blogfully.net barb @ blogfully

      That is amazing Kimberly! A huge and endless congrats to you! & Stephanie–amazing post! I met Vera Sweeney two years ago up in Chicago when meeting up with Kraft (delicious byte bloggers). That’s about the most “travel” I’ve done since beginning my blog 4 years ago. Actually, I was invited back last year…I’m still waiting for that unexpected opportunity to swallow me :)

  • Kelsey

    I think this is a great blog and I agree with you. My concern is that bloggers will turn into “celebrity” types and consumers will not trust their opinion. “I used to trust you, but now that you are indorsing brands what is your real opinion and what are you being paid to talk about?” I wonder if long term this would cause their blog traffic to decrease. 

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      Kelsey, I think this is a valid concern.  I would hope that brands would work with bloggers who are known to be completely authentic and not product shills.  And I would hope that bloggers would only work with or endorse brands which are truly a good fit based on their own lives and pursuits. As a blog reader myself, I look favorably on bloggers who have a small number of close brand relationships (through ambassador programs, spokesblogger work, etc.), and I rarely read those who have more than a handful of ambassador program badges down the side of their blog.  If you’re working with 10-15 brands at a time, can you really give the appropriate attention and focus each brand deserves?

      • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

        That’s an excellent observation, and one that I think more brands need to pay attention to! 

  • Kitty Kelso

    As someone who comments or offers feedback daily in many arteries of this Internet, I would never put a product or link on the internet stream, if I didn’t fully respect it myself. Kitty Kelso  See FB

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      Hear hear! I’m happy when I know a blogger well enough (through their blog or in person) to know for certain that they only work with brands they respect and use themselves.

  • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

    It is exciting to see bloggers be a part of major ads like these-I think their endorsements hold so much more weight and value than celeb endorsements, and are a good value for brands. Like you said though it’s up to bloggers to value themselves and partner with brands to come up with ideas. It’s rare that an opportunity like this will ‘fall’ into your lap-usually it takes a strong relationship prior to building these larger national campaigns. 

    Also of note-Vera Sweeney (of I’mNotObsessed.com and LadyandTheBlog.com) is also featured with Audrey. :)

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      Yes Kelly! I’m so sorry Vera! I didn’t purposely not mention you….my writing on this was a bit disjointed and I didn’t coordinate the images to the mentions. 

      • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

        No worries! I just wanted to point it out so readers would know who the other mystery lady is. ;) 

        I think we’ll be seeing more and more of this in the future. 

  • Heather

    Love it, Stephanie. I always get so excited when I see my fellow bloggers getting opportunities like this too. Love to see hard work rewarded!

  • Leigh Powell Hines

    Great article.  I think there is a whole new marketing world out there, and it’s exciting. Thanks for your input. 

  • http://selfishmom.com/ Amy

    Oh, I love this trend. Mostly for selfish reasons, of course. :-)

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      It’s amazing, isn’t it? Love seeing our friends out there in these new ways.

  • http://twitter.com/WhitneyMWS Whitney Wingerd -MWS

    Love it.  I think the brands are realizing that real people are much more appealing as brand reps than celebrities!  I’m much more inclined to buy something based off the recommendation of a friend or trusted blogger than some celebrity whose lifestyle is totally unobtainable to me. 

    And can I just say how much I adore opening up magazines and seeing my friends in them?   I was on a plane with the fam when I flipped to a page with Vera of Lady and the Blog in it and my son was like, “hey Mom – look – it’s that lady from New York!”  So cool.

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      Yes! And you’re so right, I neglected to include the wonderful Vera Sweeney, who appears in the ad with Audrey, in my post. I don’t really know Vera, but definitely know her work, which is fabulous. (And any friend of Audrey’s is a friend of mine!)

  • http://www.rockanddrool.com/ Melissa

    i love seeing my peers being recognized through print and tv ads, it’s fabulous!

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      I know, so much fun! 

  • Guestquestion

    why didn’t you ask if they were paid or not

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      Whether they were paid or not isn’t as important to me as the fact that brands are recognizing bloggers as major influencers.  As I said, all of these women are highly intelligent and I’m sure they each developed a mutually beneficial arrangement with the brands they worked with, whether cash exchanged hands or not.

  • http://www.reluctantrenovator.com/ KimMoldofsky

    I love to see this. I knew Ana was in the Cool Whip ad, yet I was floored when I came across it in a magazine. I was alone at the time, otherwise I would have shown it to everyone around me.

    I was asked to be in a commercial last year, but it would not have been paid, but I parlayed it into other kinds of compensated work with the brand. It was still a win, you just won’t see me on TV (yet!).
     

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      I saw Ana in a magazine before I knew she was going to be in it – totally LOVED discovering it that way. What fun!  

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  • http://www.smartypantsmama.com/ Caroline/SmartyPantsMama

    Great article. It’s great to be a mom who can be an entrepreneur and make it to soccer practice! Way to go all of us! And especially Audrey, Esther, Ana and Vera!

    • http://www.crackerjackmarketing.com Stephanie Schwab

      Indeed! So many creative, smart women are finding ways to combine work and family in such cool ways.

  • http://twitter.com/stacyknows stacyknows

    I am always amazed when people who I don’t know know me.  My readers treat me as if I were a celebrity.  Now I just have to figure out how to monetize my so called fame .

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  • William Wei

     

    I think I will become a great follower.Just want to say your
    article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take
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  • http://twitter.com/NYCityMama Carol Cain

    So very proud of these bloggers (many of them I call friends). Their success is definitely due to their being business savvy, but also what sets them apart and makes them desirable to PR and brands is their personality and ability to stay professional, approachable, and remain easy to work with. As a blogger coming from the PR field, and a frequent consultant to PR firms and brands, that ability to remain a “nice” person, to embrace the true essence of blogging (community), to be creative, and approachable, as well as obviously professional are what makes them want you. It’s not enough to blog pretty. If you are a jerk, no one will want to work with you.  Great article. I LOVE seeing them succeed. They deserve it! Congrats!

  • http://twitter.com/DawnVeselka Dawn Veselka

     LOVE THIS: “A brand wishing to use bloggers instead of celebrities must either have a creative and clever ad agency, or a very savvy PR department or agency, whose budgets cross borders and who can work together in a really coordinated way.”
    SO very true. Hoping that more and more of the large brands out there will realize the influence and trust that the good bloggers have earned and retained… and that they will find a way to work in combination to get their messages out. 
    How fun to see these fab women featured. Well done!

  • Kjell Kallman

    Fantastic article Stephanie. I’m starting to see this happen ever so slowing in the wine industry and the car industry too. I’m passing this along to others in hopes that they will see the opportunity and continue their blogging quest.

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