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iBlog

TOP INSTAGRAM HASHTAG MISTAKES & WHAT TO DO INSTEAD | FACEBOOK LIVE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON & BEYOND

The magazine for women influencers

Special Feature

The Reviewers HOW REVIEW INFLUENCERS DO IT FOR BRANDS & FANS

9WAYS TO GROW & SCALE YOUR BUSINESS WITH WEBINARS

BEST TWITTER CHATS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA & MARKETING

October 16

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CONTENTS 10 DOWNLOAD A FACEBOOK LIVE VIDEO Use these clever tricks and tools to download live videos on Facebook

12 5 MONEYMAKING SECRETS Successful influencers follow these five pieces of advice

10

14

16

#TBT INSTAGRAM STRATEGY Incorporate this popular hashtag into your marketing plans

20

16 BEST TWITTER CHATS Use Twitter chats to connect with your audience across the globe

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1000% MORE BLOG POST SHARES

MOM INFLUENCERS Don't discount the influence of moms

Branding

Instagram

Virtual Reality

YOUR BRAND 22 Instagram Mistakes Top Instagram hashtag mistakes and what to do instead 4

iBlog magazine OCT 2016

44 Stay True to Your Brand Use authenticity to reach your audience on a more personal level

48 360-Degree Storytelling The latest updates on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality


The Reviewers >24

Hot Topics 48

360 Degree Storytelling The latest on virtual reality and augmented reality

50

9 Ways To Use Webinars Grow and scale your business through the power of webinars

52

Facebook Live This holiday season and beyond

The Review Influencers

26

Tracey Bush - NutriMom & Allergy Phoods

28

Beth Blair - The Vacation Gals

30

Heidi Koffler - Pretty Proof

32

Tessa Smith - Mama Smith's Review Blog

33

Jen Powell - Ever After in the Woods

34

Nancy Horn - The Mama Mavens

36

MK Clinton - Barking from the Bayou

37

Carolyn Scott - The Healthy Voyager

38

Joyce Duboise - Women and Their Pretties

40

Jaclyn Drieden - Bites Reviews You Can Use

42

Michelle Miller - Instabloggermom

43

Shanna Gebhard - Peyton’s Momma

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE

54

FRESHBOOKS THE BEST ONLINE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

50

AFFILIATE GENERATING HOLIDAY AFFILIATE SALES

54

iBlog magazine OCT

5


The Reviewers Issue As we lead into the holiday season we thought it would be a great time to shine the spotlight on some of our favorite niche product reviewers that incorporate reviews into their blogs, video channels and social media platforms to grow their fan base and encourage national brands to seek them out for their product reviews and professional, honest opinions. We've also launched a new section called Hot Topics to keep you up to date on the latest social media, technology, industry trends and issues that affect your business growth.

!

Look for this symbol to watch sample videos of our featured influencer's reviews.

iBlog magazine reaches over 200,000 women influencers in print and digital magazines. iBlog magazine is delivered to 1,000's of influencers at 30+ social media conferences annually. Contact us. Advertising inquiries:

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market@iBlogmagazine.com 813-551-0007

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iBlog magazine Corp. Office:

Writing & Editorial inquiries:

231 N. Tennessee Ave. Lakeland, FL 33801

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iBlog magazine OCT 2016

editor@iBlogmagazine.com


iBlog Advisory Committee Industry leaders committed to your success

Laura Mayes Co-founder, Mom 2.0 Summit, Camp Mighty, Go Mighty, Kirtsy

Ana Flores Founder, We All Grow Summit, #WeAllGrow Latina Network, Spanglish Baby

Stacey Ferguson

Kristin Hylek

Co-founder, Blogalicious Justice Fergie Lifestyle Media, Attorney

Manager, Alliances & Brands PR & Brand Engagement McDonald’s USA, LLC

Emily McKhann

Barbara Jones

Aliza Freud

Angela Sustaita-Ruiz

Co-Founder, The Motherhood The McKhann Media Group

Founder, one2one Network CEO, Blissful Media Group

Founder & CEO SheSpeaks & SocialSpeaks.com

Co-founder, Hispanicize Dime Media

Kim Garst

Danica Kombol

Jeannette Kaplun

Pat Flynn Founder, Smart Passive Income, iTunes Top Podcaster, Author, Blogger

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone Instructional Design Mgr. Enterprise Training at Marketing Profs

Co-founder, Boom! Social, Forbes Top 20 Women Social Media Influencers

Cecilia Mecca Co-founder of iRetreat conference & Double Duty Divas

CEO & Founder Everywhere Agency

Founder, Hispana Global, Author-Todobebe, TV Host Journalist, Spokesperson

Bridgette Duplantis

Jyl Johnson Pattee

Co-founder of iRetreat conference & Double Duty Divas

Laurie Schacht

Nadia Jones

MJ Tam

Co-publisher The Toy Insider, President The Toy Book

CEO Niche Parent Blogger Network, Social Media Strategist

Editor, Chicagonista Co-Founder, Women Driving excellence

Watch for iBlog's New & Improved Digital Magazine Coming Soon!

Founder, Mom It Forward, Family Forward Conference

Ronnie Tyler Co-founder, Black and Married With Kids, Tyler New Media

Do you support women influencers? iBlog magazine is seeking out new partnerships with national brand, agency and pr firm executives that would like to participate on the iBlog magazine Advisory committee. Join our industry leaders and partner with the largest business resource for women influencers online. Receive year-round exposure for your brand(s), benefit from our partnerships with leading influencer networks and conferences while discovering new opportunities to support and interact with influencers in the iBlog magazine community. For more information about iBlog’s Advisory committee please email us at: Advisors@ iBlogmagazine.com Printed in the USA, Copyright © 2016 by iTell Ventures, Inc. All rights reserved. iBlog magazine is published monthly except for combined July/August and December/January issues, by iTell Ventures, Inc. 231 N. Tennessee Ave., Lakeland, FL 33801. Subscriptions are by membership to iBlogmagazine.com website only. Address all membership correspondences to membership@iblogmagazine.com. To change address please visit your membership account at iBlogmagzine.com. Material in this publication must not be stored or reproduced in any form without permission.

ADVISORS


October 16 conferences and events

7 BlogHer Food ’16

4 M2Moms Conference

7 2:1 Conference

M2Moms® is the world’s premier conference on marketing to moms. Since its founding in 2005, the event has been attended by thousands of senior-level brand managers and marketing executives from Fortune 500 companies representing major consumer product and service categories.

The 2:1 Conference is a faith-based conference for homeschooling parents who blog (not just about homeschooling), or are active in social media. Offering knowledgeable speakers, our goal at 2:1 is to equip you with the tools and confidence needed to succeed in your blogging as well as homeschool-

7 TECHmunch Miami

7 Pinners Conference & Expo

12 Barkworld

BakeSpace.com’s TECHmunch is the traveling conference that helps food and lifestyle bloggers learn the skills they need to succeed and take their blogs to the next level. The day-long conference is a must-attend event for anyone serious about culinary content and brands that want to work with culinary content creators.

Pinners Conference is a consumer event for the public to create in real life their interests that they have pinned on Pinterest. 101 classes are taught during the event, largely by popular bloggers from around the nation. 225 shopping booths are also on site. It’s a fantastic way for bloggers to meet their fans and gain new friends in a face- to-face environment.

BarkWorld’s commitment to providing superior programming designed to educate, inspire, connect, and bring together the world’s leading pet-centric social media creators, brands and pet industry experts. Attendees will have the opportunity to drive brand awareness by creating authentic connections with both brands and other influencers.

Blog Con 15 NEPA Dunmore, PA

21 Food Bloggers of Canada

Parent East 27 Type-A Orlando, FL

Panels and sessions related to blogging, social media, marketing, Internet culture, creativity, technology, and more. Plenty of opportunities to network with other likeminded conference-goers. NEPA BlogCon draws students, educators, coaches, marketing pros, small business owners, non-profit multitaskers, creative types, and anyone else interested in learning how to communicate more effectively online.

Food Bloggers of Canada is Canada’s only national conference for food bloggers. It’s a fun, intimate event for bloggers, brands and speakers alike. We focus on providing professional development for our members and other interested bloggers, an intimate atmosphere to foster blogger-to-blogger and blogger-to-brand networking and, of course, an emphasis on great food!

Three+ days of top-notch sessions, workshops, and keynotes featuring some of the best and brightest speakers in the business. We will also include a special track dedicated to EXPLODING YOUR INCOME featuring sessions on passive income for bloggers, landing high-paying gigs with brands and agencies, selling your own digital content, getting published, and landing long-term paying contracts.

New York, NY

Miami, FL

NOVEMBER

Sandusky, OH

Scottsdale, AZ

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Austin, TX

This is the world’s largest conference for online food content creators, is open to anyone and everyone who considers themselves part of the social media and online content creator space. #BlogHerFood16 is focused on highlighting the skills and talents of women who are rising their voices and creating content online.

Atlanta, GA

3 Blogalicious

4 Pinners Conference & Expo

4 Food Allergy Bloggers Conf.

Discuss ways to create smarter creative content, impactful web-based marketing, as well as new programs, people, and platforms that engage your audience and build relationships. The yearly Blogalicious Experience - the first and only event of its kind - is THE go-to destination for influential multicultural women social media enthusiasts from all over the world.

Pinners Conference is a consumer event for the public to create in real life their interests that they have pinned on Pinterest. 101 classes are taught during the event, largely by popular bloggers from around the nation. 225 shopping booths are also on site. It’s a fantastic way for bloggers to meet their fans and gain new friends in a face- to-face environment.

This unique conference unites food allergy bloggers with the advocates, medical professionals, and the companies who support food allergy living and safety at one event. With dual tracks of panel discussions focused on disease management and blogging information attendees have chance to learn from experts and share with their readers and communities.

Atlanta, GA

8

iBlog magazine OCT 2016

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Denver, CO

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Instagram

How to Download A FACEBOOK LIVE VIDEO

The reason that so many want to download the video from Facebook is so they can repurpose that video in other ways and on other platforms. For some reason, Facebook doesn't make it easy to figure out how to download, so I am coming to the rescue with a step by step system and then a tool that does it for you. 10

iBlog magazine OCT 2016


STEP 1:

STEP 6:

Once you have located the video, click on the time stamp and the video will pop up. You will see the video, as well as the comments to the right.

Once the video is open and displayed as a mobile version, you simply right click on the video and select save video as.

Find the video in your profile or page feed

Right click on the video again

STEP 2:

Right-click on the video Right-click on the video and then click “Show video URL.”

STEP 7:

Choose the location to save it Choose where to save it on your computer and hit save. VIOLA!

SAVEFROM.NET STEP 3:

Copy the Video URL Click inside the box to highlight the URL. Right-click the URL to copy.

What if there was a little tool that would do all this for you quickly and easily? Savefrom.net is a nifty little website that allows you to download your Facebook Live videos by simply popping in the link to the video. Pretty slick, right? They even have a Google Chrome extension if you want to get fancy and always have the tool handy. That said you do have to have the video link which requires you to follow steps 1-3 above. Once you have the link copied you simply pop it into the “insert link” at the top of the Savefrom website and they will generate a download link for you. Super easy!

STEP 4:

Change the URL to a Mobile URL Place your mouse in the address bar and remove the www and replace it with an m. So instead of the URL looking like https://www.facebook. com/kimgarstboomsocial/videos/1201313266592501/ it would look like https://m.facebook.com/kimgarstboomsocial/videos/1201313266592501/.

Now you are all set! You can choose to use the Facebook platform to download your video or you can use Savefrom.net! Either way, you have options that work! So what do you think? Which one seems the easiest to you as a way to download a Facebook live video? Drop me a comment below.

STEP 5:

Use the Mobile URL to open up the video Once you have changed the URL in the address bar from www. to m. then you can simply hit enter OR you can copy and paste the corrected URL into a new browser. Whichever feels the most comfortable for you.

Kim Garst

www.kimgarst.com Instagram: kimgarst

INSTAGRAM


Business

5 of Successful Moneymaking Influencers

W

e all have an idea of what success looks like, but in the business world of making money and creating a stream of steady income, I’d like to focus on the money factor. How much money are you making as a blogger? Would you like to earn more and become more valued as an influencer by major brands? I have been doing affiliate and digital marketing for over 17 years. My first job in the industry in 1999 was to reach out to travel blogs and travel related websites for eBags.com in order to partner with them to sell more luggage and backpacks at eBags. Now I run Pollen-8 an influencer management platform as well as a blogger network called She Is Media. Many of the same principles that applied then, still apply now. The promotional channels and the technology have changed, but if you stick to these tips you will be able to command a much higher value for the hard work that you are putting into creating content online and staying relevant.

Create Relevant and Engaging Content Advertisers are looking to you as the Influencer to provide relevant content that they want their product to be associated with in order to reach their target audience. You can write content specifically related to the Advertiser, or you can write content that is related to the target demographic of the advertiser, but at the end of the day the content should be authentic and engaging. Readers know almost immediately if a blog post or a picture is not authentic. The content should be natural and should read as though you are speaking in the same voice as the rest of your social media. The more engaging the content is, the better chance that you have to intrigue the reader and cause the Advertiser to want to advertise with you again. Your job is to create content that engages the reader and that causes a positive association with the Advertiser’s product. 12

iBlog magazine OCT SEPT2016 2016

“THERE IS A HUGE BRAND VALUE AND GOODWILL THAT YOU CREATE EARLY IN THE CONSUMER JOURNEY.” Be Responsive and Timely It is true that most of us are busy and that its difficult to answer every inquiry for partnership that come across our desk or our devices. However, if you make your living by blogging or social media, then you need to consider that your product is your content and that you are the salesperson or representative for that content. In other words, you will only make money if you answer the phone, email, or outreach by advertisers that want to spend money with you. Advertisers are trying to find good partners that will be responsive and timely with their communications to launch their campaigns quickly. The more responsive you are, the more an advertiser will approach you with their budget. You also will want to immediately send the URL to your post back to the Advertiser as proof of the post, and then request payment. Building this rapport will increase your pipeline of revenue as well as make the advertiser comfortable to spend more with you.

Know Your Audience Size and Reach Reach can mean many different things to different people, and it is important that you make the careful distinction to your audience size vs. the reach on your post. The audience size that you have are the number of unique visitors to your blog per month via your Google analytics or similar tracking, the number of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, or it is the number of people on your email list.


Be ready to provide those numbers to an Advertiser so that he or she can quickly determine the value of your influence and the opportunity for them. If you can develop metrics on your demographics of your followers using various softwares out there, you can command even more per post. Collect as much data about your followers and users as possible, and you will be worth much more to the advertisers. It isn’t enough any more to talk about “hits” or impressions. Those metrics are meaningless and provide very little value for an Advertiser. Do not be ashamed, however, of selling the Advertiser on the opportunity to brand their product as opposed to tracking everything to a sale. There is a huge brand value and goodwill that you create early in the consumer journey. Your post may not be the last click a user does, but surely your post has a lot of value early in the decision making process and you should price accordingly.

Be Realistic About Your Pricing You need to be realistic about the value of a post, a picture on Instagram, a video on YouTube, an email drop to your newsletter and any other placement. An Advertiser will quickly move on if your pricing is too high or not in line with industry standards. If you want to find out what your content and influence is really worth, work with an established agency that knows the value according to their experience with advertisers and other influencers, or do an assessment yourself. When you assess yourself, you will need to do research on what others charge in your vertical and you will need to look at similar rate cards. You know that you have found the right price when a large branded advertiser is willing to pay it and you receive payment at that price.

Understand the Advertiser’s Goals Every advertiser has a budget and goals related to that budget for influencer marketing. Do not hesitate to ask the advertiser for his/ her goals and metrics by which they are evaluating this campaign. By establishing a goal up front for the post that is realistic with the Advertiser, that will cause the Advertiser to trust that he/she can come back to you any time they have an influencer budget and want more traffic. Goals can include reach, leads, sales, downloads, or phone calls generated. Check in with the Advertiser after the article has been posted and ask how the goals are going. By participating this way, you will build a consultative relationship with the Advertiser causing them to spend more money with you in the future. Becoming a successful influencer goes beyond just creating content and getting followers. A successful influencer also is aware of the value that he or she creates in the ecommerce and digital marketing world and works to maximize that value. Cheers, and here’s to your success!

Matt Frary

CEO & Founder SmarterChaos.com Twitter: @SmarterChaos

BUSINESS


Instagram

INCORPORATE #TBT INTO YOUR

INSTAGRAM STRATEGY I

f you’ve spent more than a day on Instagram, chances are you have seen, or know about, #TBT—Throwback Thursday. This is where people post photos of themselves as kids or at various times of their lives as a way to look back and reflect. Really, it’s just a fun way to embrace more photos of ourselves without jamming another selfie 14

iBlog magazine OCT 2016

into our feeds. Ok, not quite But it is a fun thing that almost everyone seems to embrace on Instagram. Which is all fun and good for you. But can businesses do this without looking weird? Absolutely! You just have to get creative. I’ll show you a bunch of ways that you can incorporate #TBT into your Instagram strategy.


“YOU WANT THE CONTENT YOU’RE SHARING TO STILL TRANSLATE TO YOUR BRAND MESSAGE. DON’T JUST POST A RANDOM KID PHOTO FOR THE SAKE OF IT.” Photos of Yourself

For some brands, it can be advantageous to share your own personal photos from childhood or other significant times in your life. If your brand is your own personal brand, this makes sense. If your business is built around a small group of employees, who are regularly showcased on your Instagram account, this can be a great way to humanize your brand even more. Things to consider sharing as photos of yourself include childhood photos that showcase your personality. You want the content you’re sharing to still translate to your brand message. Don’t just post a random kid photo for the sake of it. If your personal brand is built around health or athleticism and you have photos of you in sports when you were younger, this makes sense. Here’s a photo I posted a while ago talking about my fashion style as far back as being a toddler {photo above]. Given that I routinely shared posts about my style at that time, this meshed with my brand message. Other ways you can showcase your past would be to celebrate the anniversary of your graduation from college or receiving certification or training in your field. If you are a lifestyle brand, you can throwback to previous trips or adventures. I also love to see people show their lives before their “success”. Whatever your brand is, it hasn’t always been where it is today. You started off younger, less experienced, less polished. Showcasing how you have evolved your brand through throwback photos humanizes your brand and builds trust in your business. Whether it’s you or your employees, finding fun ways that align with your brand message to showcase your past can significantly impact your results on Instagram.

Your Office or Storefront

If your business has been around for a while, you’ve probably gone through some iterations or work space. You may have moved from various buildings or offices. You may have expanded your storage or production space. The decor and styles have likely evolved. If you had a grand opening or anniversary events, sharing throwback posts on those anniversaries is a fun way to share your past and establish your credibility as a trusted business.

In Review

Want to share your year in review video? Or a highlight reel of a recent event you attended or hosted? Showcase it as #TBT post to capitalize on the trend while staying true to the content you were going to share anyways.

User Generated Content

If you collect content shared by your customers or followers, saving some of it for future use and highlights as TBT posts is a powerful way to reward your audience and take advantage of the throwback trend. Or if your customers post something related to your brand and tag you along with a #TBT, that’s even more perfect for sharing! Just make sure you always get permission to repost someone else’s content to your Instagram account!

Vintage Themes

Does your brand love or respect all things vintage? Sharing content that pays homage to those who came before you can be a powerful way to connect with your audience and establish your brand style. It could be your content or even images from magazines or photos from the past that inspire you. Let your creativity soar!

Before and After

If you frequently share before and after posts, or want to do more of this, consider making this a part of a regular #TBT series. This could be a product series. But it also works if you offer a service. Think about lawn care and landscaping as before and after segments. Or a hairdresser or stylist. Or a realtor or home remodel specialist. There are plenty of ways you can incorporate before and after content! When it comes to Throwback Thursday ideas, you are really only limited by your brand message and your creativity. You can use any variety of these ideas and I’m sure you can come up with even more! Have you done something creative to incorporate TBT into your Instagram strategy? I’d love to hear what you’ve done! Chime in with a comment below.

Trivia and History

Sharing this history of your company or fun facts about the evolution of your company is a great way to not only build trust, but welcome newer customers into your community. Post photos that represent the info you’re sharing. If you have a lot of archive photos, this is a great way to make use of all that content. You can even turn the TBT post into a trivia game. Share your story and boosts engagement with followers by asking your audience to answer a question about the place, time, or event in your photo.

Jenn Herman

www.jennstrends.com Instagram: jenns_trends

INSTAGRAM


Twitter

FOLLOW THE VERY BEST

TWITTER CHATS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA & MARKETING

16

iBlog magazine OCT SEPT2016 2016


T

witter chats are hands down my favorite way to connect with people all across the globe. In one short hour you get the opportunity to connect with a group of like-minded people surrounding an interesting topic. But how do you find chats? I have discovered a few directory listings but you have to wade through a lot of chats to find the

ones related to marketing and social media. So I set out on a journey to discover and compile a list of the very best Twitter chats for social media and marketing. This list will be kept updated with the most current information. If you discover a great chat that is not on this list, please DM me on Twitter @MadalynSklar or send me an email.

MONDAY

TUESDAY

1pm ET #BizGalz – hosted by @BizGalz – marketing for women

11am ET #ContentWritingChat – hosted by @ExpWriters – marketing

2pm ET #BizapaloozaChat – hosted by @Bizapalooza – small business

12pm ET #CMWorld – hosted by @CMIContent – marketing

3pm ET #ContentChat – hosted by @SFerika – content marketing

2pm ET #BizHeroes – hosted by @Paper_li – marketing

9pm ET #AtomicChat – hosted by @Atomic_Reach – marketing

2pm ET #GetRealChat – hosted by @PamMktgNut – social media

10pm ET #BlogElevated – hosted by @BlogElevated – blogging

3pm ET #SMXChat – hosted by @SMXChat – marketing 8pm ET #InfluencerChat – hosted by @InfluencerChat – social media 8pm ET #LinkedInChat – hosted by @LinkedInExpert – LinkedIn 9pm ET #SocialRoadTrip – hosted by @JoelRRenner – social media friends

WEDNESDAY 11am ET #BrandChat – hosted by @mariaduron – branding

THURSDAY

11am ET #SEMRushChat – hosted by @SEMrush – SEO 12pm ET #BufferChat – hosted by @buffer – social media & marketing 2pm ET #ChatSnap – hosted by @KrisGillentine – Snapchat

1pm ET #TwitterSmarter – hosted by @MadalynSklar – Twitter tips

2pm ET #WinnieSun – hosted by @SunGroupWP – marketing

1pm ET #SEOChat – hosted by @JohnBertino – SEO

3pm ET #LetsLiveStream – hosted by @Rachel_Really – social media

3pm ET #HootChat – hosted by @hootsuite – social media

3pm ET #SproutChat – hosted by @sprout_sarah – social media

10pm ET #MediaChat – hosted by @kilby76 – social media

9pm ET #MobileChat – hosted by @AnhTNguyen – marketing

FRIDAY

SUNDAY 9pm ET #BlogChat – hosted by @MackCollier – marketing

2pm ET #CMGRHangout (1st Friday) – hosted by @myCMGR – social media

Madalyn Sklar

www.MadalynSklar.com Twitter: @MadalynSklar

TWITTER


Industry

Aliza Freud SheSpeaks.com @SheSpeaking

don’t discount the influence of moms 18

iBlog magazine OCT 2016


r

ecently, an article from a trade headlined, “Is the Mommy Blog Dead?” went viral. The article has two perspectives on the question of: “Is the Mommy Blog Dead?” One of the perspectives comes from a former mom blogger turned influencer agency founder. Her contention is, in short, that “mommy” bloggers did not evolve and they no longer have credibility or influence. Oh, and more often than not, they do not disclose properly about sponsored blog content. The irony is that it is these very “mommy” bloggers, “without influence,” who actually caused the post to go viral. I must have seen it posted in dozens of Facebook and Twitter feeds from influencers/bloggers that I’m connected to and, subsequently, industry professionals who follow these bloggers. And those are just the posts that I saw. In fact, the article was so popular that the trade publication hosted a live podcast and Facebook Live covered the topic in greater detail. As many brands looking to reach moms today are either testing the waters of influencer marketing or analyzing the ROI of their influencer marketing campaigns, it’s important to address the question of influence that these bloggers bring to the table. First, I am compelled to point out that most bloggers I know who happen to be moms and write, in part, about their families, find the term “mommy” blogger to be condescending. The majority of these bloggers write about many aspects of their lives, just one part being their children so, why call them “mommy” bloggers? They are multi-faceted women who have built social followings due to their smart, funny, engaging, clever and informative content. Says Rachel Ferrucci of Tools2Tiaras.com, “I find it funny when people call me a ‘mommy blogger’ because I’m a lifestyle blogger who mostly writes about travel and beauty. It’s like saying all magazines including Cosmo and AutoTrader are family mags.” Second, the vast majority of bloggers have built followings across many social platforms including Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Their blog is but one place that they are creating content for and influencing their audience. A recent sponsored program that Ferrucci worked on for Kmart had her not only create a blog post but also a live in-store Periscope, Instagram content, Facebook posts and a Snapchat. Ferrucci talked to her audience in real-time and became a hit, bringing dozens of her Periscope followers in the store to meet her while there. Ferrucci’s example exemplifies this concept: her blog represents but one part of her audience and where her content lives. Finally, both research and in-market data prove that these influencers (who have blogs) move the needle on sales as well as key brand health metrics like purchase intent, recommendation intent, brand favorability, product knowledge, etc. According to M2Ms.com, 65% of moms report that they have bought something because of a recommendation they saw online. Additionally, more than half of moms who are social media users say they regularly make purchase decisions based on information they see on blogs. And, according to Klout, in 2015, 5 out of the top 10 bloggers were “mom” bloggers. Given that mothers account for 80% of household buying decisions in the U.S., that’s a whole lot of potential revenue for brands, so it makes sense that they look to engage with bloggers who have built multiple social channels followed by moms.

COOL TOOLS Switcher Studio

Switcher Studio is a free iPhone app for live streaming. The app picks up any camera that’s available on your wireless network so you can use any of them for your live stream. That means you can easily broadcast from one camera source and easily swap to another camera source. For example, you can have one camera positioned face on and another camera to show a side view of you. You could even have a third camera to show your desktop. You swap back and forth with any cameras by clicking on the view of the camera you want.

Ripl

Ripl is an easy-to-use app that allows anyone to create animated social media posts in a short video format. If you’re not savvy with video, Ripl is a great way to create videos without needing any tech or creative skills. It’s as simple as this: 1. Add your photos and text into Ripl 2. Choose a design & customize the animation 3. Write a caption, add hashtags, and share! Ripl brings your text and photos to life in a short video. The basic or free plan allows you to choose a range of styles, fonts, colors, and music. You can easily share to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and overall the free version gives you plenty to play with.

INDUSTRY


Marketing

1000%

MORE BLOG POST SHARES

Y

ou’ve created a blog because everyone says blogging is a great idea but you don’t see the point. You get a little bit of traffic but the blog is a real chore. Not many shares, no comments (or maybe a spammy one!!) Now, imagine if your opinion changed for blogging… Imagine if blogging was a key revenue generator for your business. Blogging is super powerful and it’s the reason why our business exists… but don’t take my word for it! We have a great community called RazorBlazers where we train a couple of hundred businesses and marketers on an ongoing basis on a wide range of topics. Recently, we sent our members a blogging challenge and there were some very interesting results we want to share.

The Blogging Challenge The challenge was to write one awesome blog post. Over the last few years we have built up a lot of experience with how you can attract a lot of traffic to a blog and we wanted to share what we have learned over the years so that they could achieve great results on their blog too. Here’s an example of one of our posts that was shared 24,000 times.

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So we shared some of our tips and tricks and sent them the challenge to come up with a blog post that was much more popular than any other piece of content on their site. The results were very interesting and there is lots to learn from them.

Achieving over 1,000% more shares Liz Alexander is a futurist strategist and while she has mixed opinions about blogging, she always loves a good challenge. So Liz decided to create an influencer post where she got the opinion of other futurists:


40 different futurists contributed to the article. Let’s take a look at the number of shares this post achieved compared to other posts using Buzzsumo. The first two posts were both related to this article:

As you can see Liz got over 1,000% more shares on the article she wrote for the challenge, over the other posts on her site. How did she do this? Well let’s take a look at what Liz did to promote her post: • Set up a schedule on Buffer for tweets • Used the embedded Click to Tweet feature – sent out every day • Shared a summary of the post (twice) on LinkedIn • Shared it to her Facebook page • Wrote to all 40 contributors and they shared on Twitter, LinkedIn and FB • Based on a comment saying that this post should be shared with all school principals around the world, Liz began identifying educationalists on Twitter and included their handles in her tweets, which attracted a lot more shares. • She did the same with two educational associations that produce newsletters and magazines, that go out to this audience, too. What were the results? • Liz picked up several business opportunities: A New York business association has offered her a paid speaking opportunity to talk to their members — which could result in future clients. And a University has asked her to come and talk to both their faculty but also lead workshops for their students. Again, paid consulting gigs! • Over 1,000% increase in shares over previous posts. • It was shared by a number of prominent associations to their members, including NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers); NASSP (National Association of 2nd School Principals), and several school districts, like USC (University of Southern California school district). • The author of a career book asked if she could quote this post in the updated edition of her book (to which Liz said yes, of course!) – her publisher is Penguin and that book will come out early next year, so Liz’s post is going to “live” for a very long time in the pages of You Majored In What? by Dr. Katharine Brooks. I think it’s safe to say that Liz is now very interested in blogging.

Rapid growth in traffic with just 3 blog posts Gareth and his partner are building a social media tool called Content Sleuth, which provides social media automation, analytics and outreach for content marketers. Gareth has only written 3 blog posts on his site so far (it’s a new site!). For the challenge he wrote a post titled ‘26 of the best and worst SMM apps reviewed‘ (these were social media management apps) Gareth did the following promotion: • Sent two emails to his list of email subscribers – an initial email promoting the initial release of the article and then a follow-up. • Contacted influencers to contribute their opinions and then encouraged them to share the article.

• • • • • • • •

Used BuzzSumo to check who shared out his previous article on Twitter and went through each one letting them know about the new article Sent several posts out to all his social media accounts Scheduled posts to go out over a period of several days Posted in relevant groups on Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook Setup ads on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, including specifically targeted ads and remarketing ads. Tweeted quotes from the influencers who contributed. Contacted every tool reviewed and let them know about it. Used Quuu to promote the article in the relevant category.

What were the results? • Over 500 shares of the post • Email subscribers increased by 35.8% over a 7-day period • Now ranks on page 4 for ‘Social Media Management Tools’ in the US (this is awesome for a new blog post on a new site) • Some additional sales for their product – hard to work out the exact number that was directly related to the blog post but more relevant traffic = more sales • A nice increase in traffic. Remember, this site is very new so it’s great to see the traffic growing.

Signing up coaching clients after a blog post Marie Collins said that writing blog content didn’t come naturally to her so we were delighted to see her post on 3 essential improvements to make on your Facebook page doing really well. She promoted it across all the social media channels and invested a little in Facebook ads. The increased level of promotion makes a big difference. For any blogger out there if you are writing content but not promoting you won’t do every well. With a little extra push it makes a big difference! What were the results? • The most shared post ever on Marie’s site • Marie got a coaching client after publishing the post.

Summary A blog is a hugely important part to your online presence so if you’ve left it behind maybe it’s time to resurrect it again. If you create the right content, use the right tools and promote it in the right way your blog can drive significant traffic to your site. More relevant traffic = more opportunities to sell.

Ian Cleary

www.RazorSocial.com Twitter: @RazorSocial

MARKETING


Instagram

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Sue B. Zimmerman www.suebzimmerman.com Instagram: theinstagramexpert

TOP INSTAGRAM

HASHTAG MISTAKES and what to do instead

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ashtag headaches can seem like the Instagram pain that won’t go away. How many hashtags do I use? What hashtags will help get more eyeballs on my post? Are there are any hashtags that are off limits? But if you have a hashtag headache, I have a cure. Here are five common hashtag mistakes, and how you can fix them right now.

Only using hashtags specific to your own business Too often, businesses on Instagram get stuck in a hashtag rut. While it’s important to use industry-focused hashtags, vague hashtags often backfire when they put you in overly crowded hashtag hubs. Step up your strategy with more specific hashtags.


This strategy is especially important for location-focused industries, such as wedding photographers. In order to attract the attention of potential clients, use location-specific hashtags where your clients are already looking. For example, the Popponesset Inn is a popular wedding venue here on Cape Cod. By using hashtags relevant to that location, photographers are more likely to catch the eye of clients who are in the process of looking for their wedding venue. Even better, see if the venue already has a branded hashtag. This will allow you to get into the hashtag hub and keep your content relevant longer.

Using popular hashtags All too often people assume that to gain more followers you need to use popular hashtags, such as #Love, #InstaDaily, and

“VAGUE HASHTAGS OFTEN BACKFIRE WHEN THEY PUT YOU IN OVERLY CROWDED HASHTAG HUBS.”

“STAY TRUE TO YOUR BUSINESS AND ONLY POST HASHTAGS THAT ARE TRULY RELEVANT TO YOU.” #InstaMood. These crowded hashtags might lead to more eyeballs on your content, but these are the wrong followers. Instead, they’ll often post comments like “cool pic” and “awesome,” which distract from your content. Stay true to your business and only post hashtags that are truly relevant to you. It takes time and patience to grow a true Instagram following. Stay patient, and avoid the potential that you will become another #CrashTagger.

Not using hashtags specific to your location Whether you are an online or retail store, it’s important that you focus on how you can grow support in your community. Draw more local followers to your posts with destination-focused hashtags. If you scroll through my account, @SueBZimmerman, you’ll see that I am always using hashtags that reflect my nautical life here on Cape Cod. Even recently, when I hosted my Sue B-School Retreat, I encouraged my attendees to use #Falmouth and #CapeCodLiving. Not

only did these hashtags capture the laid back vibe of the event, but it gave our Instagram content a more local focus.

Not testing new hashtags on a regular basis If you want to stay in the loop on what your potential customers are doing, you need to conduct regular hashtag research. Don’t just rely on your standard hashtags to share your content. Go deeper to see what’s working, and how you can improve your Instagram strategy. When my team and I were recently kicking off our InstaAcademy, we did a lot of hashtag research to better understand which hashtags would attract the attention of social media managers and assistants. Spend time shaking up your hashtag choices to discover what works best for your potential customers.

Not adding hashtags after you press post Lastly, it’s important that you add hashtags as soon as you post. Often, people share their content before they decide which hashtags to use. Since Instagram shares your content in real time, if you add hashtags later they won’t appear at the top of the hashtag hub. That’s why I use the Notes app on my iPhone and keep a list of both my primary hashtags and my secondary hashtags. I refresh this note regularly to reflect my Instagram content and what’s currently going on in my business. I can share my primary hashtags in a comment, followed by secondary hashtags in another comment below. This quick hashtag strategy ensures that your post won’t get buried in the hashtag hub.

ARE YOU TIRED OF STRUGGLING WITH HASHTAG HEADACHES? Get the cure with the Hashtag Handbook at SueBZimmerman.com/HH. Discover a library of industry-relevant hashtags that will help you share your business on Instagram. The hashtags listed inside this guide have been hand-picked and sorted through to make each industry and target audience.

INSTAGRAM


The Reviewe Influencer's voices shine through for brands who want to reach engaged followers that are inspired to purchase when their favorite influencer unveils a new review.

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Watch for this symbol to watch sample videos of our featured influencer's reviews.

iBlog magazine OCT 2016


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ALLERGY PHOODS

What has changed in the product review space? I truly feel that companies and products are realizing the value of relationships with both the blogger/social media community and their consumers. Product reviews are a great way to share honest thoughts, try a new product and to see exactly what you do and don’t like about it. I know that I want to hear about products from someone that has tried an item, tasted it, used it- everybody does. The key is to always be honest, even if it’s a product that you don’t necessarily care for.

What is trending now in reviews and what type of review do you like the best? Food has become a larger part of many trends but allergy-friendly foods have blasted into social media. Because I am a food allergy mother that cooks a lot and loves to help others, I am absolutely intrigued that a product review can turn into so many different things. Food is essential for everyone but allergy-friendly foods are extremely essential for so many people—I feel as if I have found my specific calling. I will review other foods if a company requests it and I feel their products are worth sharing (due to ingredients, how they are produced, Non-GMO, etc.) but my absolute favorite product reviews are those allergy-friendly products that people stick their noses up at—I take this as a challenge to show the naysayers just how they can use it and love it.

How did you get started in the product review space? My son has multiple food allergies. When he was diagnosed, I had to

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relearn my cooking skills as most people do when they are faced with a food allergy diagnosis to stay safe and nourished. What originally began as a blog to share with people has expanded into an ebook, a food allergy consulting business, multiple brand ambassadorships with allergy-friendly companies and expos and somehow, within all of this happy chaos, my brain thrives on product reviews and unique recipes. Has a brand ever provided you with negative feedback after providing an honest review with your own true opinions? I don’t believe I have ever had negative feedback other than a few minor comments about their products. I can say that I have turned down products for review as I feel very strongly that my word is what people rely on. If I evaluate a product and don’t feel their company standards are what I should share, then I don’t. If I review a product and it’s just not


“Not every company or product has tons of money to spend so I see what I can do to help them. In return, a new partnership is born and it also allows my extreme blogger brain to continue in blissful chaos.”

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Click here to visit and watch a Nutrimom Video on Youtube.com

times, like 3 AM I will wake up with a food photo in my head or a recipe idea. After I decide that I like the product, then I discuss what else I can offer in the way of sharing. I do not offer a general social media kit—I pride myself on working within anyone’s budget. Not every company or product has tons of money to spend so I see what I can do to help them. In return, a new partnership is born and it also allows my extreme blogger brain to continue in blissful chaos. It just works. I am happy to share that I offer just about any type of social media sharing and I feel that customized ideas bring a more personal touch to each product.

What type of post had the best ROI for you? my personal favorite, I include that in my review but stress that others should still take a peek at the product to see if the items are a better fit for their needs. Everyone’s allergies and tastes are different – I would never tell anyone to completely avoid a product. If I truly disliked a product enough to tell others to stay away from it, then I would refuse to review it to begin with.

Do you feel the compensation is fair for the work you do in a sponsored review? I have never been paid to review a product. The only compensation I require is product for taste-testing and photos for the review itself. I feel there is an unwritten code of ethic among bloggers that we feel you should not be paid to review a product as it may make you seem biased. As I stated before- I am true to my word and I feel very strongly that my followers rely on that so I stick to it. Again, I do not charge for a product review other than receiving products themselves. I want to try the product and decide if I like it before I even pursue a relationship with that company. One of my strange blogger brain traits is that I have moments that kind of jump into my brain with a recipe idea or a new use for the product. It can be at the strangest

This is difficult to pinpoint since I offer so many different avenues of work. For me, ROI could be anything—how many times something was reposted, specific people or companies that liked or shared that particular item or even something as simple as how good working on a particular project made me feel. This SunButter video was just downright fun to put together but this Éclair Bon Bons recipe was shared and reshared, featured on GoVeggie’s website and social media channels so how do I gauge what the best ROI is? I am just excited to be doing what I love to do best for these companies.

Tracy Bush

www.allergyphoods.com Twitter: @TracyBNutrimom

FEATURE


THE VACATION GALS

The Vacation Gals are three professional travel writers — and moms of children ranging in age from 2 to 17 — who love to share their “Adventures Away” and “Happiness at Home”. They cover a whole lot of family travel destinations, as well as kid-free trips, local fun, outdoor escapes, healthy living, favorite gear, comfy clothing, and much more on their award-winning travel and lifestyle website launched in 2009.

What trends do you see in the review space? When I first started writing review posts brands would send me items to review then ask for the product to be returned. While that structure may work for some people who focus on specific products (who needs two dozen different style phones?), I quickly learned it wasn’t worth my time. Luckily, I haven’t had that scenario present itself in years. Regarding platform trends, there is no doubt live streaming and video apps are hot and will continue to increase in popularity. There’s nothing better than seeing a product in action. As a travel blogger I find experiences exciting. This summer my family took several road trips to review various hotel properties (AmericInn). It was a new-to-us chain and we had a great time and saw some really fun things. A few years ago I reviewed a flying lessons experience with Let’s Go Flying. Yes, I flew a plane! That was bucket list worthy. As for products, I’ll consider almost anything. And it’s no secret I love reviewing shoes, clothes, and gear.

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How did you get started in the product review space? When I worked as a flight attendant I was always on the lookout for new travel products then when I became a mom I was (and still am) always on a mission to find the latests products and styles. Since I love writing tips and advice it was only natural that I share my favorite products and things that interest me. Today, a lot of my product reviews are family-based. My two older children are really interested in fashion trends whereas my toddler is in a completely different realm between cute clothes, Disney anything and toys. Of course, my husband goes crazy for the gadgets. He’s very much into tech and trends so he offers awesome feedback.


“The best part is that many of these brands ask for and appreciate honest feedback. I have found that whenever I suggest that the product could be improved in some fashion, the response is always gracious.”

different audiences due to our backgrounds, kids ages, locations and interests. Some brands come to us specifically because of our diverse and extensive reach.

Do you feel the compensation is fair for the work you do in a sponsored review? What posts provide the best ROI? Has a brand ever provided you with negative feedback after providing an honest review with your own true opinions? I have found that most brands and their representatives are really great at doing their homework and seeking bloggers who can authentically showcase their product. The best part is that many of these brands ask for and appreciate honest feedback. I have found that whenever I suggest that the product could be improved in some fashion the response is always gracious. I think the key is how the message is communicated.

I think so. Again, one size doesn’t fit all. For example, if there are extra requests or increased social sharing request our fees will reflect that additional work. I wish I had learned that lesson early on. Evergreen blog posts always do well over time, especially when they solve a common problem. Social media posts seem to really do well when something is new, hot or exciting. There’s always something cool coming out and that makes the news easily shareable.

What price range would you charge for this type of standard product review package? At TheVacationGals.com (tagline: Adventures Away - Happiness at Home) we have a base price for sponsored posts but every opportunity is considered case-by-case. We have charged from several hundred to thousands. There are a lot of factors that we take into account. What makes us special is that there are three of us so the amplification is larger when we all share. The three of us have

Beth Blair

www.thevacationgals.com Twitter: @thevacationgals

FEATURE


PRETTY PROOF

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hether you prefer to do your shopping online or in a store, it is easier than ever to research the products you are considering in real time. Back in the day one had to wait for the latest addition of Consumer Reports to come out to find product comparisons, and many companies relied on word of mouth to help them sell their products. These days word of mouth has been given a new voice in the form of online reviews. With smartphones, tablets, and nonstop internet access, consumers have the ability to compare prices and read product reviews, allowing them to make better informed decisions as they shop. Retailers recognize the power of consumer reviews because who do consumers trust to help them make purchasing decisions? Other consumers! Therefore, nearly all retailers have specific areas of their websites devoted to reviews and customer feedback. In fact, most retailers encourage consumers to write reviews after making a purchase in hopes that those reviews will influence other consumers to purchase the same product. Likewise, marketers understand that positive product reviews have the ability to sway potential new consumers to purchase their products over others. It is in their best interest to include product reviews in their marketing strategies and to work with bloggers like you and me. My name is Heidi Koffler, and I’m the founder of PrettyProof.com. Beauty products, particularly skin care products, have always been a passion and obsession of mine. The claims these companies make give us the impression that their products will completely change our life or at the very least our face. They make promises about fine lines disappearing, age spots fading, lipsticks and eyeshadows lasting

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24 hours. Oh and another one of my favorites—damaged hair being instantly repaired. I thought if all these products really work why does anyone still have wrinkles and dry, frizzy hair. Shouldn’t we all have “flawless looking skin” after purchasing all these products? It was out of this mystery that Pretty Proof was born. So I decided to create a blog where I could document my quest to find beauty products that actually work as they claim and share the results. The Pretty Proof motto is if a product actually works the proof will be in the mirror. For every product I review, I state each claim the company makes about the product and I tell my readers whether or not the product truly lived up to each individual claim.


“In a way, I consider my reviews to be more like PSAs because I don’t want my readers to spend their hardearned money on products that don’t work. I make it clear to sponsors that my reviews will be 100% honest.”

Naturally, companies whose products live up to all of their claims and receive a positive rating on Pretty Proof are happy with my reviews and share them on social media. They also ask me to review additional products. Of course, the opposite is true of companies whose products don’t work as promised. I once received a box with more than a dozen products to review from a single PR company. After I wrote an honest, negative review about just one of the products, they never contacted me again. But, I believe when you review products, honesty and credibility are everything. My readers trust me to tell them about my actual experience with a product. I don’t write reviews for the sake of my sponsors or to get more sponsors. I write them for my readers. In a way, I consider my reviews to be more like PSAs because I don’t want my readers to spend their hard-earned money on products that don’t work. I make it very clear to sponsors and vendors that I work with that my reviews will be 100% honest. They are welcome to provide with me product information, links, and photos to use in the post; however, the review section, the claim by claim results, as well as the overall Pretty Proof ranking will be written entirely by me or a guest blogger. In terms of compensation for sponsored reviews, I don’t charge a

standard fee. I tend to work that out on a product-by-product basis. Depending on the amount of time required to properly review a product and the expectations of the sponsor, the workload can vary greatly. For example, the time required to review a long-lasting lipstick versus an acne treatment is substantially different. It may only take a week to try and review the lipstick, whereas the acne treatment will probably require a minimum of four weeks to even see if the product works. If the value of the product is high, I may do the review in exchange for the product itself and nothing more. Whether a review is sponsored or for an item I purchased myself, Pretty Proof readers know and appreciate that they will always get an honest account of my experience.

Heidi Koffler

www.prettyproof.com Twitter: @PrettyProof

FEATURE


UNDERSTANDING YOUR VALUE TO BRANDS

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bout two and a half years ago I decided I wanted to do something with my free time. I was a stay at home mom to two little girls (who are now 3 and 5). I had always worked in the promotions and marketing fields, and even have my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. I was wracking my brain for something that I could do easily from home and the idea to start a review blog hit me. I never really thought it would amount to much, but I thought it would be fun to do in my down time. Because of my background, I love promoting things and being creative. I could never have dreamed of how far I would come in just a few short years! I started off small reviewing items like vitamin c serums and kitchen utensils—but I quickly escalated because of my dedication and hard work. I have put thousands of hours in to my website. It has definitely been more work than a full time job, but I love every second of it. I am blessed to say that I have worked with brands like LeapFrog, VTech, GeekFuel, LootCrate, Ninja, Shark, Dyson, Hasbro, and even Disney! Recently, I went on a complimentary Disney Cruise and it was the experience of a lifetime. I have moved to focusing more on Entertainment, Parenting, and Geek Culture, but I still review a bit of everything. I have decided not to take myself so lightly anymore. I ask for what I think is fair compensation and I stand my ground. My rates start at $150 for a standard product review package (depending on the value of the product) and I am usually not willing to negotiate. Companies tend to see that I go above and beyond and am worth my fee. The best return on investment that I tend to get is for Twitter and Instagram posts. If you had told me three years ago that I would be spending my free time typing away at the computer, editing photos and videos, and test-

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ing out products—all while making enough money to help support my family, I would never have believed you. I have actually sat in the same room as celebrities like Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner, I have walked TWO World Premiere Red Carpets, and I have attended many amazing events in order to cover them for my website. I never in a million years thought I would be able to do these things, and I am so thankful that MamaSmiths.com allows me to do them!

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Click here to visit and watch a MamaSmith's Video on Youtube.com

Tessa Smith

www.mamasmiths.com Twitter: @MarvelGoddess24

FEATURE


ALWAYS TELL A STORY: ENGAGING CONTENT

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y blog, Ever After in the Woods, is a place where I love to share great recipes; awesome DIY and fantastic travel experiences. I love that I can take the things that I am passionate about and create a career from them. For me it is all about a strong photograph - it can speak wonders. As I am still relatively new in the world of blogging, I can honestly say that I learn something new every day and I try to incorporate that into my next post. This can be as easy as what works for photographic backgrounds to when the best time of day is to post on social media. Keep trying new things until you see what works for you. I think what I do best is photography—and I say this because I enjoy taking pictures. Capturing photos from different angles, unique compositions and strong color is really important to me. There is nothing better than feeling accomplished after putting together a blog post. Always tell a story. Having a lifestyle blog where I incorporate product reviews can be tricky and when I first started I would just photograph a product, do a little write up and be done. But for me that didn’t feel right—I needed more and I found that by incorporating the products into MY STYLE, worked so much better. My best work is when I can seamlessly incorporate a product in a way that feels natural. So when receiving products and weaving them into a post it is important for me to number 1 actually like the product and number 2— combine it with a post that I would be doing anyway so that it doesn’t feel like a sponsored product review. This can be challenging at times, but I truly believe my readers enjoy more of what I am sharing when it comes from the heart. Videos are definitely the hot trend right now and I have not tried my

hand at publishing them into my posts on a regular basis yet, but it is on my to do list! I need to step way outside my comfort zone to have these videos of myself out there if you know what I mean and I have not gotten there yet! With that being said I still think a strong photograph can speak wonders. A little tip­—when working with sponsored content lately I have been using part of the money that is compensated for social media campaigns. For example, if I was paid $200 for a post, I use $5-10 for a sponsored Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest campaign. There are times where I think it is worth the extra effort and others where it falls flat. Again—everyday I am learning and trying to be better at what I do and I love every minute of it. It takes a village- I have learned so much from watching other bloggers, asking questions and being part of great forums where other successful mavens are willing to share, give advice and help. We are all in this together and there really is room for everyone to succeed.

Jenn Powell

www.everafterinthewoods.com Twitter: @everafterinthewoods

FEATURE


Feature

THE MAMA MAVEN

Nancy Johnson Horn has been a blogger since February of 2007, working for sites like People.com’s Moms and Babies and Baby Center. She started The Mama Maven Blog in fall of 2011, while still working on freelance projects for iBillage and BabyCenter and editing a local website. She’s written reviews and posted about breastfeeding, car seats, strollers, vehicles, tech for kids and parents. She’s also developed her own recipes for her blog and gone on press trips to fantastic travel destinations including Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, Beaches, and the Bahamas.

What has changed in the product review space? I’ve been writing products reviews for almost 10 years. Product used to be the only compensation. Now, everyone is telling a broader story, video is important and broadcasting on several social channels is a must. Facebook Live is a way to stand out these days. I still prefer reading a product reviews on blogs, but I know that isn’t the only way to review products or tell a story anymore.

How did you get started in the product review space? I joined a local playgroup when my oldest child was a baby, headed up by Danielle Tropea, who owned the Celebrity Baby Blog. She asked me if I wanted to review a stroller and UppaBaby sent me one to review. I wrote what I thought was a witty review. Danielle asked me to revise it, as she wanted a straight review from a mom’s point of 34

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view—just the facts and my opinion. I started writing reviews regularly. Danielle sold ads on her site, but I wasn’t paid for reviews. When I became pregnant with baby number two, Danielle connected me with Whitney of Mommies With Style. I was writing reviews for both sites. In 2008, People.com bought the Celebrity Baby Blog and we started getting PAID for our reviews (even though it wasn’t much). Things started changing in 2009, when brands started having blogger events. I started meeting other bloggers like Kim Coleman of Mom and the City and Esti Berkowitz of Prime Time Parenting. I finally left People.com and Mommies with Style in 2011, when I started freelancing for other sites. I knew if I wanted to really make my mark, I needed my own blog, so I started The Mama Maven Blog in Sep-


“I’ve been writing products reviews for almost 10 years. Product used to be the only compensation. Now, everyone is telling a broader story, video is important, and broadcasting on several social channels is a must.”

tember of 2011. In 2012, I found freelance work in blogger campaign management, which I still do today. In 2013 I started joining blog networks and getting small payments for reviews. I got on more social networks and learned how to edit video. I also expanded beyond reviewing and added more tech, entertainment and travel posts. I added writers who did baby, toddler, and toy reviews. I realized that I loved crafting recipes and video and enjoy working with food brands.

Has a brand ever provided you with negative feedback after providing an honest review with your own true opinions?

! Click here to visit and watch The Mama Maven's videos on Youtube.com

time crafting my post and share on my various social networks. I am professional about it.

What price range would you charge for this type of standard product review package? I charge between $250 to $300. More if a video or event attendance is requested. I share between 7 to 10 times. I go above and beyond so I am hired again. Sponsored recipe posts do the best for me. Yummly and Pinterest are my biggest referrers to my blog.

No, but I choose products that I knew I like. Certain blogs required me to put a negative in, but it was always something minor.

Do you feel the compensation is fair for the work you do in a sponsored review? Yes, I am hired to tell a story. I make sure my images, which are taken with my DSLR, show off the product. I shoot video. I spend

Nancy Johnson Horn www.themamamaven.com Twitter: @themamamaven

FEATURE


Feature

MAXIMIZING REVIEWS: EARN READERS’ TRUST

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et me ask you a question. If you were interested in a particular product would you ask a friend about it, read the reviews, or trust the company to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly? In most cases, people ask friends or read online reviews. That is what’s so great about being a blogger; we become a friend to our readers and they trust our opinions. It seems as if both large and small companies have begun to realize that too. We are the new breed of influencers which is an honor and a huge responsibility. On average I review six pet-related products each month. I really enjoy introducing new dog toys on my blog because the photo shoots are such fun. It is nice to be able to share start-up businesses with pet parents. Many reviews such as these are in exchange for a product that I want to try and the companies contact me directly. The majority of my paid posts have come as a result being a part of the of the BlogPaws™ community. They provide various sponsored campaigns and if the company feels that you’d make a good partner, you are selected. I have also joined Hubba which has put me in contact with many new brands. When I began my career as a blogger, it was a personal choice not to publish negative reviews. If there is a problem with a product or my dogs and I don’t like it, I contact the company to let them know. This has been met with appreciation and led to additional work. Fortunately, I haven’t been faced with this very often. I’ll point out things that I like or dislike in a review. It’s my goal to share products or services that my audience will enjoy knowing about and make sure they have a pleasant visit at my website. It takes a lot of time to pen a review that will hold your readers’ interest and have awesome photos. I’m lucky that my husband does the camera work but that also means that companies are getting two people working

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on their campaign for the price of one. We spend at least one day per review from concept, photos, writing and editing. That is just to get the review ready to publish. Afterwards, there are social media shares to promote your post. This is why it is important that we are compensated fairly for our work. If you begin accepting reviews for product only, it can be difficult to start asking for payment. It is a twist on “Why buy the cow if you get the milk for free.” The majority of compensated reviews that I’ve written were for a predetermined amount set by the company. Payment for a 300-500 word post, photos, and social media shares ranges from $100 - $350 depending on the campaign. When you work directly with a company or a PR firm, costs can vary depending on your audience size and social media following. There are so many places to share your work nowadays but I still get my best return with Twitter and Facebook. Videos are becoming a very popular avenue for reviews and you will notice more bloggers embedding videos in their work. This is something that I am learning to embrace. At the end of the day, writing reviews is a personal choice. The most important thing to remember is that your readers trust you and we can never take that for granted.

MK Clinton

www.mkclinton.com Twitter: @mk_clinton

FEATURE


Feature

THE HEALTHY VOYAGER

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton is a Latina holistic nutritionist, vegan chef, cookbook author, speaker, show host, consultant and healthy travel and lifestyle expert. From video web series and travel articles, to product reviews and healthy, vegan and gluten free recipes, she shares a lot of options for a happier, healthier and greener lifestyle on her site, The Healthy Voyager.

What has changed in the product review space? Now I think there are a lot more opportunities in the space than they used to be but also that means there needs to be a bit more selectivity! I see a lot more sponsored reviews now, but for me, I still really love finding hidden gems and debuting them to my audience.

Do you feel the compensation is fair for the work you do in a sponsored review? Yes, especially for video reviews. This is my full time job and it takes time to craft a post or video, amplify it to my audience and then again, I have a large audience which is valuable.

What price range would you charge for this type of standard product review package?

How did you get started in the product review space?

I charge an hourly rate for all my work so a review would be about 4-6 hours from using the product, writing the post and amplifying. For a video review it goes up to an 8-12 hour rate as I have to roll in set up, shooting, editing, etc. If it’s food/recipe, that’s on the higher scale for sure! Example: Blog post, 30-second video, social amplification through tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

Basically as a resource for my audience to help them find the best and newest products in the healthy and green living space

What type of post had the best ROI for you?

Has a brand ever provided you with negative feedback after providing an honest review with your own true opinions? No, I actually don’t review something if I don’t like it. I keep my reviews positive as it is such a subjective thing to do, review. What I may like others may not and vice versa. So I try to find the silver lining and unique things about a product or I just don’t review it at all.

It really depends on the product but you know, posts with giveaways do really well!

Carolyn Scott

www.healthyvoyager.com youtube.com/healthyvoyagertv

FEATURE


WOMEN AND THEIR PRETTIES

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first started blogging as a way to distract me. I had just graduated college and quit a job at a place that, frankly, I hated. I needed a break in between school and beginning my new career. I found solace in writing. I began writing about what I loved the best – shopping. I started with written and video hauls/reviews. I was in a community of ladies who were just as passionate as I was about fashion, so my blog was basically a place for women to visit when they wanted to know about the best handbag or necklace. My blog name, Women and Their Pretties, originated from that group of women. We called our handbags and jewelry our pretties. The name stuck and so you have it – Women and Their Pretties. At some point I joined a blogger network that offered free products to review. I use the term “free products” very lightly because reviewing products is work. We are committing to offer our honest opinion to brands in exchange for their product as compensation. The keyword in that sentence is honest. At times, brands forget that the point of working with bloggers is to give their customers a true experience with their products. I must mention that I never have and never will bash a brand, product, or company. It’s not how I roll. If I have a bad experience, I explain it in a way that reminds readers that it’s my opinion – their experience could be totally different. If I were reading a review and the writer seemed hostile or pessimistic, I wouldn’t take them very seriously. Would you? Let’s talk about those bad experiences for a minute. Out of the hundreds of products I’ve reviewed in my 2 years of blogging, I’ve probably given 10-15 bad reviews – and by bad I mean not 5 star. There’s probably about 3 products that I completely hated. You see,

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I try to find the good in everything. For example, one function of a hair straightener may not be the best, but another function is superb. I take every factor into consideration when writing honest product reviews. That doesn’t stop a brand from asking me to remove the negative portion of my reviews, though. Not only have I had brands ask me to change my less-than-5-star experience, but I’ve literally been bribed to write a positive review or to completely remove my review all together (insert gasps here). Sadly, it’s not that uncommon to be asked something so ludicrous. I’ve never given in, though. I stand firmly by my reviews. Plus, I refuse to be bullied into removing something from my blog. My blog is my brand, my outlet, my pretty – you see what I did there? Maybe it’s the rebel


“My best advice for other bloggers is to stand by who you are. Never lose your voice, your truth, or your dignity. Your readers love you for a reason! The day you start changing who you are is the day that your readers will drop.”

in me, but I politely say, “I do what I want and post what I want.” Okay, I’d never say that to a brand, but it is how I feel. I didn’t get to where I am today by being told what or how to write. If a brand asks for my opinion on their products, it’s because they like my voice and they trust my judgment. I know how to talk to my readers and refuse to change because it isn’t 100% favorable to the brand. I stay true to myself and to my fans and that’s why I’m successful. So, how do you stay true to yourself and your audience? First of all, you need to find your voice. Find your niche. If you become giddy when you write about something, then go with it! Be real with your audience. If you’re sarcastic, let that shine through your writing. If you’re awkward – be awkward! The more consistent you are, the more loyal your fanbase will be. There’s always room for improvement and it may take a few tries to get it just right. There is absolutely no shame in that. When I decided to focus more on lifestyle and less on reviews, I mapped out the type of audience I wanted. To begin, I developed an ideal character for my blog: age, lifestyle, hobbies, relationship status, even her favorite show. I started writing as if I were writing specifically for this woman (her name is Naomi). If something comes along that wouldn’t be of interest to Naomi, then I pass on it. Yes,

that sometimes means turning down a paycheck. I don’t ever want to disappoint Naomi, so I don’t confuse her with content that isn’t relevant to my blog. I give her my honest opinion, tell her relatable stories, and keep her updated on the latest pop culture trends (she’s a huge pop culture junkie in NYC). I am loyal to my audience and they are just as loyal to me. My best advice for other bloggers is to stand by who you are. Never lose your voice, your truth, or your dignity. Your readers love you for a reason! The day you start changing who you are is the day that your readers will drop like flies. The moral of the story is that there isn’t a right or wrong way to blog. Your blog is a representation of who you are – be real, be passionate, and be you.

Joyce Duboise

www.womenandtheirpretties.net Twitter: @JoyceDuboise

FEATURE


STEADY GROWTH LEADS TO REVIEW SUCCESS

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ome people call me a review blogger. Others a social media influencer, I call myself Betty Bite. When I was struck with a debilitating illness and could not leave the house I wanted something more than just cleaning, I wanted to contribute to my family. I started Bites Reviews You Can Use in 2014 in hopes of craving a little bit of emptiness that I had. When I started my blog, I had no clue what I was getting myself into, and at times (not going to lie) I wanted to quit. With so many review blogs that pop up daily, it is a very scary venture. Being totally lost that first couple of months when I started blogging, I headed to what I thought at the time was a honey hole, Tomoson. Let’s just say those first couple of months was filled with reviews of face serums, washes, and scrubs. To the point where I thought my face might just melt off. I used them all!! We all have to start someplace, and this is where I started. I did not work with brands directly until about five or six months later. That first pitch letter was the best feeling I could ever have. Talk about doing a little wiggle dance in the kitchen, yup, I used my kitchen table as my office at the time. I knew that I just might make it in this crazy blogging world. As soon as I had my pitch letter designed I left Tomoson and went out into the big world with my eyes wide open. It seems like forever ago when that first pitch from a brand came across my email. I have seen so many review blogs come and go as well as how trends have changed. I search the web during the evening and check out different review blogs. When you are a review blogger, you have to check out different blogs to find out what is trending, what is working and what is not working.

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One huge difference from when I started till now are the images. I feel that there is a trend in making your images beautiful, bold and well thought out. These trends include flat lays and styled images.


“It is important to take as much time on your images as you do the actual posting. I am still learning how to get that perfect photograph, but I get so many compliments on my images from companies.”

I have started to see them everywhere not just Instagram. It is important to take as much time on your images as you do the actual posting. I am still learning how to get that perfect photograph, but I get so many compliments on my images from companies. I no longer work out of my kitchen because my husband who has been so supportive through all of this built me my own personal space/office. Included was lighting so that I can do the best I can with my photographs. It is important, I feel, that you have a good support system. I can’t thank my husband and family enough for sticking with me through the rocky first couple of years. My images have actually turned into a money making business for me. I get tons of offers for my pictures I use in my postings from the companies that I blog for. Selling my images is the primary source of my income as well as affiliate links on my blog. Talking about money, this is what makes the world go round, right? Wish it didn’t but “gotta pay those bills.” I do a lot of Sponsored postings, and it is like pulling teeth sometimes to get compensation. Once you are settled into your new space on the web, I highly recommend checking out sites like Social Fabric. They have fantastic opportunities to work with brands and receive compensation. I feel that if you have the passion for learning and the willingness to

put yourself out there, you can succeed in being a Review Blogger. I had to work many long days and still do all these years later. Know that it is not easy, and you will continue to learn and grow year after year, but there are so many beautiful people (including myself) that are always here to help you when you need it. Just roll up your sleeves and dig in.

!

Click here to visit and watch Bites Reviews videos on Youtube.com

Jaclyn Dryden

www.bitesreviewsyoucanuse.com Twitter: @BitesReviews

FEATURE


INSTABLOGGERMOM

H

ello, I’m Michelle of Instabloggermom.com. I am a full time healthcare director, full time PhD student, mom of two, and lifestyle blogger. About six months into blogging about nail polish, I figured that I had a unique gift of having worked in marketing before. So I started reaching out to companies and PR firms to establish relationships. In my eight years of blogging, the review realm has changed a bit. A few of the companies I used to work with went from sending out samples to sending out information only. There are select elite bloggers or instagrammers that get those samples, now. Fortunately over the years I have built some good relationships with brands and PR to keep a good flow of products for review. What I see right now as a trend is blogger events. These are something I may never get to partake in due to my work/life schedule. However, it is fun to see the highlights through other bloggers' and brands' social media. For me, I like to see quick and clean reviews. I don’t need a how-to video or a back story of the brand or user. Show me a few good quality pictures and tell me what you HONESTLY thought. Those make the biggest impact on me and is what I try to use as my own rule of thumb when reviewing. I’ve never had a brand send me negative feedback, but I have sent a brand negative feedback. If I don’t love a product I know it may just be me. Most of the time it is user error, such as fake eyelashes. I can’t figure out how to apply them to save my life. So instead of embarrassing myself or the brand, I let them know I’m not comfortable posting a review. It doesn’t happen often. Sometimes the content that works best will surprise you. I had a Pinterest post that contained a collage of work basics wardrobe that I put together on Polyvore and it got pinned 10,000+ times. When I did that I was primarily a beauty blogger. That’s when I realized I needed to break out of that niche.

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When it comes to compensation for sponsored posts, I feel like pricing is all over the place. I get emails that have three campaigns for the same brand and the expectation is pretty similar for all three. However, the payment is not even close to one another. You just scroll down the list and the numbers get smaller. I don’t have a lot of spare time and I don’t expect a lot, but I feel there should be a greater sense of equality. I know my blog is not massive, but I think that if I am spending a couple of hours taking photos, shooting video, editing, writing, scheduling and promoting there is no reason why I should not make three digits for my time and effort. I say this because I don’t expect my blog to be my job. I want it to be fun, but I put what little spare time I have into it and would like for it to be rewarding in a way that allows me to continue the passion I have for research, reviewing, and promoting great brands that share the same values as I do.

Michelle Miller

www.instabloggermom.com Twitter: @ instabloggermom

FEATURE


PEYTON’S MOMMA

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started writing reviews shortly after my daughter was born in 2010. I found myself trying out so many new products and seeing that the reviews were few and far between or they were so short it did nothing to inform me of what I wanted to know. So, I started writing reviews about baby products I had tried to help other parents make purchase with confidence and have some questions answered. Then from there it evolved into our blog and before I knew it we were writing review articles as well as sharing stories about our life and our experiences. Things have definitely changed from when I first started reviewing items. In the beginning I did it for me because I wanted to share my experiences. But as I was approached by more and more companies they start to put requirements on them. The review has to be so many words, have certain links and mention certain points. It’s fine when I use it as a guideline but sometimes working all the requirements into a post and still have it sound natural and like my voice can be a challenge. So far, I have had no complaints about my finished articles. Yes, I have request to change up links or to shorten paragraphs but nothing negative, just minor touches here and there. I’m still navigating the world of what I charge for my services. I really think it depends on what the brand wants me to deliver and what the item is. If it’s a high priced item, I’m going to charge a smaller fee. But if it’s a smaller item and they want an article, social media shares, original photography and more then I’m going to charge accordingly. I feel like each agreement is an opportunity for negotiation. There really is no cookie cutter template for me. I love writing and I love sharing our life with my readers. I think it

comes across online when you are writing about something you are truly passionate about it just flows. This is also something I can do with my daughter. She loves spending time helping out with the website. I see my biggest return on my work when I decide to write about something I love. If I am passionate about my topic or product I am reviewing it will show and my readers will feel it. Then they will be excited too. I have found that using a combination of platforms to promote my articles works well. I like to use an eye-catching photograph that is consistent throughout all my platforms when I am promoting. I also like using different platforms depending on what I am working on. I really like using Instagram to share experiences immediately. Like if we are at an event. Pinterest is great for recipes and DIY projects. It just depends on what I am working on.

Shanna Gebhard www.peytonsmomma.com Twitter: @peytonmomma

FEATURE


Branding

STAY TRUE TO

YOUR BRAND K

eeping up with new trends in the digital space is like playing an endless game of whack-a-mole. There’s always something new. As an agency owner who works with brands, we see the trends and the desire to capitalize on them pass with dizzying fashion. Yesterday, everybody wanted YouTube superstars and today it’s millennial Snapchatters. Everywhere Agency is adept at responding to trends in the marketplace—hesitant to act on every new flash in the pan but open to exploring platforms that show strong resonance with our clients’ audiences. We have found though, that at the end of the day, the key to successful influencer marketing for our agency is creating relationships between brands and influencers to tell stories in authentic ways. We know that’s our sweet spot, and we use that as our “brand barometer.”


Brands and influencers face the same conundrum when it comes to becoming early adopters. Do you join the latest trend? Will your brand get left behind in an extinct Myspace-esque landscape? But before you jump on the latest craze, you have to stop and ask yourself, what are you really passionate about? Do you love to write long form narratives about your life’s adventures? Then explore that passion and continue developing good, rich content for your blog. Does Snapchat thrill you with its ability to weave stories together in 10-second increments? Play around with the medium and see what kind of masterpieces you can create. Have you discovered that you’re a better visual storyteller than writer? Instagram is the medium for you. When influencers ask me “What should I do next to build my brand?” I always say, “Do what you love and stick to what you’re good at.” Writing and content creation can be a lonely business, and if it’s not driven by real passion, the struggle will be obvious in your end product. Remember when Garth Brooks decided to detour from country music to pursue a career in rock and roll under the pseudonym Chris Gaines? People were not buying it and for good reason. This was a man who built his brand on 10-gallon hats and rodeos. No one wanted to see him in black leather and a goatee. The definition of the bandwagon effect is: A psychological phenomenon in which people do something primarily because other people are doing it, regardless of their own beliefs. The bloggers and influencers I know started creating content because they had something unique to share, not because they wanted to just

“YOUR BRAND IS JUST AN EXTENSION OF YOUR PERSONALITY, YOUR INTERESTS, AND THE STORY YOU HAVE TO SHARE.” be a lemming or follower. As you grow, it’s vital to constantly evolve and experiment, but staying true to your brand will keep your content strong. So, next time you start to have personal brand burnout, ask yourself these five questions to revitalize your brand. 1.

Why did I start blogging/creating content in the first place?

2.

What was the passion that fueled my initial fire?

3.

What is the core message I want to share with my community?

4.

What do I have to offer to my readers and followers? Is it humor? Advice? A different way to look at the world?

5.

Looking back at the full history of content you’ve created, what’s the story you’ve consistently told, and did it resonate with your audience?

Your brand is just an extension of your personality, your interests, and the story you have to share. Being authentic and true to your

“STAYING TRUE TO YOUR BRAND WILL KEEP YOUR CONTENT STRONG.” Danica Kombol EverywhereAgency.com Twitter: @DanicaKombol

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BRANDING


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Hot Topics We're excited to introduce Hot Topics content in each issue of iBlog to ensure that you are receiving cutting edge news and tips from experts to help you determine the importance of new trends and technology to your business success. We sort through 1,000's of social media and content marketing articles to find article's we feel will contribute to your understanding of where the industry is trending, what effect will it have on your business and to help you watch for new opportunities to capitalize on. Hot Topics may provide insights to new technology, social platforms, changes in content marketing tactics, affiliate sales practices and more. If you have a "Hot Topic" that you would like to share with our readers, please let us know!

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360 Degree Storytelling The latest on virtual reality and augmented reality

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9 Ways To Use Webinars Grow and scale your business through the power of webinars

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Facebook Live This holiday season and beyond


Hot Topics

360 Storytelling THE LATEST ON VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY

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mmersive experiences that alter our reality aren’t new… In 1957 Morton Heilig invented the Sensorama Machine, a simulator that provided the illusion of reality thanks to 3D video, artificial smells, stereo sound, seat vibrations, even fans to create windblown hair. This “experience theater” for 1-4 people set the stage for the wide range of virtual and augmented reality applications we see today. While the video game industry is a huge market for VR, everyone from big brands to digital media, sees the value of investing in this type of storytelling to reach broad audiences. The New York Times just bought Fake Love, an experiential design studio with a focus on virtual reality and augmented reality, to expand the capabilities of T Brand Studio, the Times’ internal marketing unit that creates multimedia con-

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tent including virtual reality films, data visualizations, and animations. The possibilities are endless, which is why it’s growing at such rapid speed. Auto makers like Audi and Volvo offer VR test drives with technology from Oculus Rift and HTC Vive to give customers the chance to drive different models, experience the vehicle’s details, and hit the road in various driving conditions. Marriott offers “in-room” virtual reality travel experiences to inspire guests’ next vacation destination. VR has helped paralyzed patients learn to walk again. Coca-cola took people on a magical virtual reality sleigh ride. Even the First Lady is getting in on the action— she filmed the first ever 360-degree video interview. At SXSW this year, VR was the hot topic—McDonald’s gave attendees a chance to get into a Happy Meal Box and paint it.


“While the video game industry is a huge market for VR, everyone from big brands to digital media, sees the value of investing in this type of storytelling to reach broad audiences. “ Rather than just reading an article or watching a video, we can now become active participants in the story. Devices like the Samsung Gear VR transport us into worlds we’d otherwise never step foot in. For example, Clouds Over Sidra, a virtual-reality film created by the United Nations and Samsung—followed a 12-yearold girl in a Syrian-refugee camp in Jordan —raising awareness and fostering emotional connections beyond what traditional media could accomplish. Current Landscape: Right now, virtual reality and augmented reality marketing is being used by big brands with big budgets. And unless you’re a serious gamer, you’re probably not investing in an Oculus Rift to have at home. But companies like Google, Microsoft, and Mattel continue to explore more mainstream possibilities. (If you just want to check things out and watch cool 360-videos on YouTube, Google Cardboard and Mattel’s View-Master are more affordable options and compatible with more devices.) Sometimes, all you need is a smartphone… You can’t go anywhere without seeing someone on the hunt for Pokémon. If it hasn’t already consumed your life, Pokémon Go combines your phone’s GPS with augmented reality and once you start, it’s hard to stop. For those more serious about AR and VR, you can shoot your own 360 live stream video to share what’s going on anywhere in the world.

KEY TAKEAWAYS Brands are getting creative and using it to promote products, take customers on virtual in-store adventures that impact purchase consideration, and deliver memorable immersive experiences that foster brand loyalty. When wearing a headset, the user is hyper-focused on what they’re experiencing. They’re not being bombarded with tons of other messages. Feeling like you’re “in it” creates a much more emotional experience. And since it’s not something being done by everyone yet, the brands that do it right are getting more traction and buzz. VR and AR technologies are quickly advancing and gaining more widespread popularity. But there’s still a lot to learn. Brands shouldn’t use VR or AR just to “try” it. Content (whether 360 or not) still needs to be useful, captivate an audience, and meet their needs. So, before you invest, you need to consider, “Is it an experience worth experiencing?”

Tracey Harrington McCoy MtoMconsulting.com Twitter: @MtoMConsulting

HOT TOPICS


Hot Topics

9

Ways to Use Webinars TO GROW & SCALE YOUR BUSINESS

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he concept of webinars are nothing new, but for the most part, they are only being used at a mere fraction of what their true potential is. When you think about the word ‘webinar’, you might think about a salesy video marketing method that online brands and marketing promote to your Facebook feed. In truth, webinars are actually much more — but this method is one that has saturated the online marketing space as of lately. We’ve actually seen

webinar usage increase during 2015 more than in previous years. The reason for this? Webinars work! Let’s take a look at nine different ways entrepreneurs, brands, influencers and businesses can start using webinars to not only generate revenue for themselves, but also increase awareness, gain trust from their audience, cut time, minimize costs and scale their business to levels they never thought possible.

1 Grow and Clean Your Mailing List

Webinars are an excellent for growing mailing lists. You likely already have a mailing list of your own, but how many of them are actually responsive? If you wanted to clean up your list and get all of the emails of the most response people, simply start a webinar and have a new list created from everyone who attends.

2 Building Brand Awareness and Trust

Content creation is great, but it’s usually a one-sided conversation with you speaking to your audience. With a webinar, your audience is watching live video and they are engaged throughout the whole process. One of the best ways to sell to an audience, is to gain their trust and show your real value.

3 Pre-Sell Your Next Project in Advance

Over the past several years we’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs come out with websites and blogs of their own, only to come out with a real product or service later on. Through the use of webinars, you could hold “free events” and learn what your audience is in need of, then sell this product to them before it’s even created. Not only is this a great way to generate revenue, it’s also a perfect way to confirm there is a demand for your product before even making it.

4 Becoming a Better Speaker & Presentation

One of the most common fears in the world today is public speaking.

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“We’ve actually seen webinar usage increase during 2015 more than in previous years.” Even though you are still behind a computer screen when running a webinar, it’s still challenging to get on the mic and talk to a live audience. However, this is something that you will improve with over time. The more webinars you host, the better a speaker and presenter you will become over time.

5 Co-Host and Interview Authority Experts

A great way to show off your own expertise and authority, is to associate yourself with other experts within your niche. A great way to accomplish this is by doing a co-hosted webinar with other marketers or experts online. There are many opportunities like this out there, it’s simply a matter of you finding them. Some will even do a rev-share with you where you earn a commission on any sales generated from your webinar.

6 Eliminate Wasted Time for In-Office Meetings When it comes to running a business and working in an actual office, one of the biggest time wasters throughout the day are meetings. It’s not just the concept of meetings, it’s also the planning, attending, note taking and everything else in between. Through the use of enterprise video conferencing solutions for IT by companies like BlueJeans, businesses and organizations of all sizes can effectively cut down on wasted time and costs that in-person meetings generate. Just like how live webinars are created for interacting with audiences around the world, the same approach can be taken with in-office meetings and management.

need to build a relationship. This is exactly what is accomplished during a 60 minute webinar. The end result is likely a 5-10% conversion rate from your webinar audience… multiple times higher than what you would see from a typical email send out or basic landing page.

8 Save Time with Automated Webinars

As amazing as webinars are, they are definitely time consuming. Every time you want to run a webinar, you are looking at anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes of pre-planning, setup, speaking and Q&A afterwards. After you’ve done your first webinar, see if you can automate the process by playing that same webinar to new audiences in the future. Depending on the webinar provider you go with, this may already be built into their system.

9 Reach New Audience and Increase Revenue with JVs Once you’ve mastered the art of running your own webinar and know that you have a product that sells, a great way to massively scale your reach, audience and revenue is through joint-venturing with other online marketers and site owners. A good example of this would be if you did a rev-share with another big site. You would setup the webinar (content, service, sales), then your JV partner would provide the audience. Not only are you looking at getting a bunch of sales, you will also grow your mailing list by hundreds (or even thousands) in the process. Repeat this model and see how you can massively grow your business in a short period of time.

How to Start Using Webinars for Your Brand or Business As you can see, webinars are a whole lot more than just selling products and services to an audience. Whether you are trying to build a personal brand, sell high-ticket items or are just an organization that is trying to cut costs and connect with each other through live video… webinars are simply the best way to go. Your competition has been using webinars for years… why are you?

7 Increase Conversions on High-Ticket Items Webinars have proven to be extremely effective when trying to sell high-ticket items. In the past, we have seen long form sales pages work extremely well for $97 ebooks and products, but if you want to sell big ticket items in the $499-$999+ range, you are going to first

Zac Johnson

zacjohnson.com Twitter: @ZacJohnson

HOT TOPICS


Hot Topics

Facebook Live THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AND BEYOND

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ith Halloween still a few weeks away, brands and influencers are already thinking about their holiday content. Those looking for innovative ways to reach their audiences have already begun seeing the endless possibilities of incorporating Facebook Live into their content mix. Influencers are still experimenting with Facebook Live, and brands are cautiously optimistic about realizing a return on investment for this format. A lot of value exists in live interaction with an audience, and the authenticity of live video is compelling, especially since Facebook is where a lot of consumers live online and consume video already. Here are some strategies and tactics to make sure your Facebook Live campaigns, when working with brands, are a success. Those who are able to demonstrate results will be in higher demand in 2017.

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“A LOT OF VALUE EXISTS IN LIVE INTERACTION WITH AN AUDIENCE, AND THE AUTHENTICITY OF LIVE VIDEO IS COMPELLING.” Storyboard Your Facebook Live Experience in Advance Sure, unscripted and unrehearsed live video streaming gives an audience accessibility that feels real and authentic. However, it’s important to have in advance a plan for what you’re going to do and say. Determine the length of time you plan to run your video and then map story points to fit within the timeframe. Doing so will not only increase your confidence when the camera is rolling, it will also prevent awkward pauses while you think of the next thing to say. Every Facebook Live video should include the following components: • Welcome • Introduction of Product • Demonstration/Interaction • Q&A • Call to Action

Invite People Ahead of Time to Maximize Your Audience Even if you have a lot of people who like your Facebook page, you might not get a lot of live viewers if you don’t let people know about it ahead of time. And if you work with a brand, you’ll want to demonstrate your ability to engage a lot of real-time viewers. This also gives you more to add to your portfolio for even more Facebook Live opportunities. Consider creating an “Event” on your page one week ahead of time and invite your audience so that they can RSVP. Then, send a reminder an hour before show time. Creating an “Event” on your Facebook page is also a fantastic way to promote other campaign assets if it’s an integrated campaign for the holidays. If you work with the brand to promote coupon codes, special holiday shopping perks, or other assets, this is an incredible way to maximize the results. You can also increase your Facebook Live following by promoting the “Event” link across your other social channels.

Consider Enlisting a Moderator If you use Facebook Live to simply give people a candid glimpse into your life, then you won’t find a lot of moving parts to manage. However, if you’re being compensated by a brand to host a Facebook Live video, then there’s a lot more involved logistics-wise. Consider asking the brand or agency you’re working with if someone can help moderate the comments for you. Some will likely incorporate this and dedicate someone on their team to attend your Facebook Live event and provide support. Using a chat platform in another window, your moderator can flag questions to answer and if people are shy about asking questions, the moderator can help get things started. By doing this, you can focus on creating a compelling experience and not get flustered by managing the technology and your video presence at the same time.

Test and Rehearse Whenever a new platform starts to get traction, there’s always the chicken and the egg conundrum. Brands and agencies are looking for influencers with experience, and many influencers are looking for that first opportunity to give them that said experience. If you’ve never done a Facebook Live video and don’t really want the whole world to see you as you test the waters, use Facebook Live on your personal profile and change the private settings for your broadcast to “Only Me.” This is a great no-risk way to practice. If you end up loving one of your broadcasts enough to share it with your page, you can always upload it after the fact – it just won’t be live. Once you become comfortable broadcasting live, consider sharing a recipe or a seasonal experience to demonstrate your expertise. You can then send links to your Facebook Live video to the brands and agencies you already work with so they can reference for future campaign consideration.

Be Mindful of Who and What You Broadcast As more people embrace Facebook Live, it’s important not to forget best practices when it comes to video, in general. If you produce Facebook Live content for a brand, be sure that if you include other people outside of your family in the video that you have their explicit, and ideally written, permission. If you capture your experience instore, make sure no one recognizable appears in the background. The last thing you want to do is create an awesome live video experience only to have to take it down because someone discovered they’re in the video and takes exception to the fact. Make sure to ask the brand or agency you’re working with for any photo releases or rules of engagement beforehand. Brands will look for new and inventive ways to engage with audiences during the holiday season and beyond – and they will increasingly turn to Facebook Live. Influencers who can master this platform in an innovative and creative manner will see lots of opportunity for work. At Influence Central, we are working with our clients and influencer community to bring this to life.

Jessica Smith

Influence-Central.com Twitter: @InfluenceCentral

HOT TOPICS


Affiliate

GENERATING AFFILIATE SALES AT THE HOLIDAYS

“Now is the time to create the blog posts which can make all the difference in your results by doing what you do best: providing help.”

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“If you already have advertisers which are popular with your readers, reach out to the program’s affiliate managers and ask for recommendations.”

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egardless of your blog topic, Black Friday can be just as good for you as the retailers, provided you offer your readers ways to shop for the items they really need or want. The easier you make the holiday gift giving process for shoppers, the more you’ll succeed personally as well. Now is the time to create the blog posts which can make all the difference in your results by doing what you do best—providing help. Two of the biggest dilemmas at the holidays is “what to get the person who has everything” and “what to get for the person you don’t know well.” Having answers to both of those questions will make you a hero to your readers. The easiest way to share those ideas is via a gift guide. Pick the top 6-10 products that will fulfill a specific goal and share both why you love them and what their weaknesses might be. It’s okay if you don’t get to personally experience each one—you’re offering suggestions here, not recommendations. To fully take advantage of this strategy, create multiple guides—perhaps one for your girlfriends, one for kids, one for co-workers, one for gift exchanges—you get the idea! The first challenge, of course, is finding the products to include. Your family and friends could probably provide a long list of

suggestions, and so can Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. One other way to identify the latest hot products is via emails from various advertisers—Etsy offers some great ideas each week, and you’ll find other ideas from Living Social, Groupon, Fat Wallet, etc. Even if the specific product offered doesn’t fit the bill, wandering through the advertiser’s site most likely will reveal a wealth of other great ideas. Odds are that if the items are offered through any of those companies, there’s an affiliate program available as well. When creating the post, try to: 1. Deeplink to each product—nearly every advertiser permits deep linking. 2. Include an image of the product—good quality, approved images are usually available through the advertiser’s datafeed, which you can usually download as a csv file. 3. Summarize any ratings you’ve found on the product—“this handy device earned four stars from Consumer Reports.”

4.

Incorporate keywords into the description, but keep the copy friendly and just leave the hard-selling up to the advertiser.

If you already have advertisers which are popular with your readers, reach out to the program’s affiliate managers and ask for recommendations about popular season products, anything which tends to sell well as gifts, or hot new items they think will do well for the holidays. It is important to understand, however, that some advertisers won’t reveal that information until very close to Black Friday, so you may want to be prepared for a last minute “hot deal” addition to your post. During Black Friday, 2015, $7+MM in commissions were earned in one day. Make sure you are a part of that in 2016!

Jeannine Crooks AffiliateWindow.com @Jeannine_Crooks7

AFFILIATE


Business

Kim Beasley KimBeasley.com @kimbeasley

FRESH BOOKS the best online accounting software

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reshbooks is practically the best online accounting software available for small business owners. I must admit, I am not exactly the most organized person in the world. And although I love my business, the documentation and invoicing process is probably the most tedious part. So when I started looking for an app, software, website or anything that would help, I wasn’t really sure what exactly I would need. Luckily, I found Freshbooks.com, and I have to say that so far it definitely is the perfect tool for me.

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AN ONLINE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE THAT TAKES CARE OF THE INVOICING First of all, I get to create high quality custom invoices for my clients, complete with my brand logo, within minutes. I can create quotes and estimates, account for my billable hours, send the invoice via email and even get to know when it is viewed by the client. The time tracking feature helps in understanding exactly where I have room in my schedule. Most of my business is operated online and being able to accept credit card payments from my clients online has been a godsend. Clients love the convenience of paying me directly from the invoice, even when they are using their cellphone! This is a prime example of a great online accounting software that has a mobile app associated with it.

FRESHBOOKS CAN ALSO MANAGE FINANCES Another important feature of Freshbooks that I found indispensable is their expense tracking with is a good addition to an online accounting software. Now, most of the apps out there simply replace the effort of storing receipts by the effort of manually typing the expenses out on the device. All Freshbooks needs is a picture of your business finances and it is taken care of! Not only does the app allow you to keep an eye on your spending, it also generates a number of financial reports that give you an overview of your business’s performance. I have everything from profit and loss statements, expense reports, tax summaries and collected payments generated by Freshbooks.com, which made it easy for my accountant to make sure that business was thriving! The financial reporting feature also has a useful trick that allows you to see which of your clients are slow to pay.

“Most of the apps out there simply replace the effort of storing receipts by the effort of manually typing the expenses out on the device. All Freshbooks needs is a picture of your business finances.” AN UNEXPECTEDLY GREAT ACCOUNTING RESOURCE I did not expect to find an online accounting software that offered so many features while also being easy to use, but I did!

Freshbooks helped me save a great deal of time, money and energy so now my business is running more efficiently than it ever was; and I couldn’t be happier! I’m definitely adding it to my Business Resources list.

BUSINESS


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The Reviewers Issue.

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