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Thank F*sed7 it’s Friday: Learn the Basics of Influencer Marketing

July 6, 2018

Blogging has evolved dramatically since the very first post in 1994. It started off as an online diary-writing platform. Yet in under twenty years, it’s snowballed into a powerful tool of influencer marketing.

The benefits of blogging are widely publicised, such as increased web traffic and effective brand promotion, which all result in higher sales. It’s the strong influence that bloggers have over their readers that makes it such a powerful tool.

Keep reading to check out the history of blogging and dig deeper into influencer marketing so you can get the best results from your blog collaborations.

Blogs Then and Now

Blogs have changed a lot since student, Justin Hall, created what was to become known as the first blog in 1994.

Here’s a timeline of the key events in the history of blogging:

  • 1994 – Justin Hall creates his “personal homepage”, which is now generally recognised as the first blog – you can still read Hall’s blog here
  • 1997 – the term “weblog” is established
  • 1998 – first blog on a traditional news site is published (Jonathan Dube for The Charlotte Observer)
  • 1999 – the abbreviation of “blog” is coined
  • 1999 – the platform that’s now called Blogger is established
  • 2001 – “meta blogs” emerge (blogs about blogging)
  • 2002 – Gawker launches, which is the first major gossip blog to do so
  • 2002 – TheMommyBlog is founded, which is one of the first “mom blogs” to do so
  • 2003 – AdSense launches, which is the first ad program to match ads with blog content
  • 2004 – the term “Web 2.0” is popularised (websites with an emphasis on user-generated and collaborative content)
  • 2005 – it is reported that over 10% of all Americans read blogs
  • 2007 – Tumblr launches, which is the first major microblogging site to do so
  • 2010 – it is reported that 11% of bloggers earn their main income from blogging

SOURCES: A Brief History of Blogging and A Brief Timeline of the History of Blogging

You can really grasp the huge growth of blogging over the years when you look at the figures.

Numbers of blogs on the internet:

  • 1999 – 23
  • 2006 – 50 million +
  • 2013 – 152 million +
  • 2017 – 350 million +

SOURCES: A Brief History of Blogging and How Many Websites and Blogs are on the Internet?

The Unique Qualities of Blogs

There are a couple of unique things about blogging that make it a great platform for influencer marketing.

Blogs can influence consumers’ purchases

When making purchasing decisions, individuals compare themselves to others who they consider to be similar, as explored in social comparison theory.

Because readers follow blogs according to both personal taste and a genuine liking of a blogger’s personality, there is huge potential for influencing consumer purchases through blogs.

Blogs are often trusted more than traditional media

Blogging uses practices including first person narrative and conversational writing style to make content highly personal. Stories are often told like a friend chatting to the reader over a coffee.

This develops emotional connection and engagement that results in influencers being considered not only as peers, but as friends.

Consequently, bloggers are often perceived as more credible than traditional media.

The Promotional Side of Blogs

Blogs were not commercial to begin with, but at least half of all blogs today have brand collaboration or some form of sponsored content.

Today’s influencers willingly engage in paid promotion, openly inviting collaboration proposals on their contact pages. Contracts and sophisticated pricing structures have been developed, indicating that blogging isn’t much different to any other profession.

Despite an eagerness to engage in paid promotion, influencers follow a strict selection process for collaborations. Failure to do this can result in loss of credibility and readership, which in turn reduces the marketing value of a blog. Key points that bloggers consider are:

  • brand values
  • brand aesthetics
  • whether there’s a high level of creative input
  • whether there’s a general relevance to the blog content

Sponsored content vs unsponsored content

Blog posts are carefully tailored to attract more readers, yet there’s a conception that people have negative connotations with sponsored content.

It’s half and half when it comes to blog posts being marked as sponsored content in a clear way. And that’s why the line between commercially-oriented activity and the personal preferences of influencers can appear blurred for readers.

Blogging is still largely unregulated at present. Because of this and fear of poor reception, some influencers publish sponsored content without signalling it to the reader.

Hopefully some of these bloggers will check out this post, as research has revealed that readers value honesty, and will accept content as long as influencers aren’t trying to hide the fact that they collaborate with brands.

With this knowledge, it’s easy to see why honest and relevant blogs become very credible and influential distribution channels.

The future of influencer marketing

Currently, brands tend to pay bloggers according to numbers of followers. But as influencer marketing grows, we’re likely to see a pricing structure based on engagement. This will make the promotional aspect of blogs more streamlined and divide risk more evenly between brands and influencers.

The Potential of Blogs

Blogging can be seen as a pioneer of influencer marketing, born with the introduction of Web 2.0 and evolved through commercial engagement.

It’s become an accessible platform with potential to gain substantial audiences. By following strict collaboration guidelines and being honest about sponsored content, brands can enjoy enormous scope for disseminating information through credible influencers.