TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY
While cashing in on the popularity of bloggers is a common practice for brands, paying them to do so is not! The reason, as indicated by most brand consultants we spoke to, boils down to the fact that the moment you pay a blogger to review a restaurant, or any other brand for that matter, there is a chance it could lead to a biased review. Rohin says the popularity of Zomato has, in fact, also led to some biased content. “We would like to believe that it isn’t a common practice to pay food bloggers for their review of a restaurant, and that there are bloggers and non- blogging active contributors, who do this out of genuine passion. Having said that, with the growing popularity of our platform, we have noticed a rise in the number of people tr ying to generate biased content in the industry — blogger or otherwise. We strongly discourage the practice of paying anyone to generate a positive review or rating.” However, many bloggers often liaise with brands to create a campaign for the latter that can appeal to their followers and are often paid for these services. The transactional nature of the collaboration is usually meant to be disclosed to the followers of the blog.
But if the blogging model is to be devoid of any financial gain, what exactly can a food blogger look forward to in terms of more tangible returns apart from creative fulfilment? Anthony offers what is admittedly an “unpopular opinion among digital influencer agencies, but is mainstream among most marketing agencies and brand managers”. Putting it succinctly, he says, “An influencer is good for your brand, but you don’t ‘ need’ one. Your customers are your biggest influencers. One happy customer will do far more good to your social clout than an influencer you pay thousands of dollars to. I would personally, as a branding professional, create a more integrated buyer journey that includes unpaid influencers ( my happiest customers who are fairly active on social media), perhaps one paid influencer who has significant clout in my industry and the remaining channels in my marketing mix. It is about ensuring the customer sees a full, clearer buyer journey using various channels and touchpoints and not just one high- profile person saying, ‘ Buy this, it’s good because I say so’.”
An array of industry perspectives indicates that it is not all roses and peaches for the influencer marketing model yet. Are brands testing the waters? Or can influencers truly redefine the way brands market themselves? As the cliché goes, only time will tell!
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