How Do Brands Choose Bloggers for Campaigns? Felissa Elfenbein Shares the Inside Scoop

Curious about how brands choose the bloggers they want for a campaign?

Want to know the magic formula for acing every sponsored campaign you earn? (Don’t we all!)

How about some insider info on what makes the BlogPaws Pet Influencer Network tick?

Well, today’s your lucky day! Felissa Elfenbein, Director of Influencer Marketing, shares exclusive details about what brands do (and don’t!) want. Grab a notebook and pen—this is a long post chock full of to dos and to-think-abouts! Take it away, Felissa!

What do brands look for when hiring influencers?

I wish I could say, “Follow this formula for success when collaborating with brands.”

Unfortunately, there is no one formula that can adequately put all of the pieces together in a box with a neat little bow on top.

Consistency Matters

What I can tell you: When brands work with the BlogPaws Pet Influencer Network, they want to see that you are influential in the pet space and that your fans can expect pet content on a regular basis. Yes! Brands want to see that your pet is an important part of your family. That doesn’t mean that your entire blog has to be about your pets, though. But it does mean that your pet appears in pictures and content… beyond the campaign you are applying for.

Own Your Brand

What I can also tell you: No two campaigns are the same because no two brands are the same. (Even two brands from the same parent company!) So, you need to OWN your brand. Know who you are and what your brand is all about. Then, go out there and show the world. If your pet dresses up on a regular basis and pictures of that appear on your blog, know that might turn some brands away. That’s OK because those aren’t the brands you were trying to attract anyway. They don’t fit YOUR brand.

What ARE Brands Looking For?

Setting aside the numbers pieces, there is selection criteria that every brand has that may not be apparent to the influencer. Let’s look at some examples:

Lifestyle Criteria

Some brands will not work with bloggers who allow their pets to hang their head out the window while riding in the car, even if it’s staged. Your pet is going to appear in promotional images with the product and the brand does not want to attract unwanted attention due to something the influencer is known to do even on occasion. The brand has made a decision that they don’t want to be associated with that behavior, regardless of whether your pet is harnessed in or not.

Note: That selection criterion isn’t something you could know, predict, or adjust for.

For other brands it’s a no-go if your pet doesn’t wear a collar and tags. Brand A might expect it for dogs and be lenient for indoor only cats, while brand B says cats have to be in collars if taken in the car or to the store.

Again, you can’t adjust your lifestyle in advance of a campaign callout because there’s no way you (or we) know ahead of time those lifestyle-related filters. And that’s OK!

Keyword Filtering

Some brands are fine with you sharing a homemade treat recipe, while others don’t want anything homemade making its way into your promotion of their products. Yes, brands will search your blog for that keyword, and they will eliminate you from the campaign. Again, it is a choice that they made that they don’t want to be associated with a certain way of feeding pets. The brand might think there is nothing wrong with it if done right; they just don’t want to associate it with their promotion.

These decisions are all a part of your overall brand and once you make them for yourself understand that the brands you want to work with will be watching.

Other hot-button keywords for some brands are the words savings and coupon. If they appear anywhere in your name or branding, expect to have an uphill battle to get into pinnacle level pet food campaigns. What is a pinnacle brand? Visit any PetSmart and find the aisle with the more expensive foods with words like freeze dried, ancestral, and grain-free on the bags. These brands might occasionally offer a special offer to get the consumer to give them a try, but they are picky about the wording of those offers because they don’t want to be seen as a discount brand.

Related… But Not

Conversely, if a brand sees that you are working with too many pinnacle brands, they might not feel that you are the best fit for their introductory type brand food campaign. Brands want you to be able to speak authentically and with authority on the foods you work with. More and more brands want you to tell a story about why their food is a great option and who it is a great option for.

Even cat litter brands are watching what you feed your cat to see if you are a good fit for their campaign. I am not sure I understand this thought process because cats are notoriously picky and want things a very specific way. In fact, it might be easier to switch your cat food than to switch your cat litter! However, this illustrates the fluidity (and unpredictability) of selection criteria.

How Do Brands Choose Bloggers for Campaigns

What’s an Influencer To Do?

1. Research the brands you want to work with.

Visit their social channels. Look at their images. What overall themes do you see? Are they something that fit your brand? Be honest: If your dog is a couch potato, you might not be able to pull off an authentic photo shoot hiking in the mountains. How would you tell that story so that it fits your brand and your lifestyle anyway?

2. Craft a compelling application.

If you know you’re a good fit for a campaign, but maybe don’t look like the best fit on the outside, take the time to really tell your story on your application. Why are you the right choice for this campaign? What authentic story will you tell your community that will get them to try this product?

3. Monitor your messaging.

Your lifestyle and the decisions that you make for your pet are taken into consideration by the brands you want to work with. Are you portraying the right message to your community through your brand? If not, it’s never too late to make the change and become a more authentic influencer.

The Bottom Line

When you share what you are passionate about, your community will feel more of a connection with you and so will the brands you want to work with. You can’t control for selection criteria like those outlined above. You can, however, control your brand, then the right partnerships will naturally fall into place.

Every Friday in September, Felissa is sharing more insider info on influencer marketing and how influencers can improve their working relationships with brands. In case you missed the first two, check them out:

What is influencer marketing?
What is your role in influencer campaigns?

And share with us in the comments your questions about influencer marketing and working with brands! We’re here to help!

Felissa Elfenbein is the Director of Influencer Marketing for BlogPaws. During the day Felissa can be found creating proposals for new campaigns, on the phone with brands, working on VIP events for the conference, and Skyping with the Pet360 Media Sales Team. Felissa lives in the Northeast Georgia Mountains and has two senior Cavalier King Charles Spaniels better known as the Two Little Cavaliers.

Images: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com and NakoPhotography/Shutterstock.com


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