Last weekend, Julie Pippert and I had the honor of spending quality time with some of the most amazing women in the state of Texas at the third annual AdventureCon conference at SeaWorld San Antonio. This conference, which Zoetica helped found in 2012, has grown to about 30 bloggers, including the SeaWorld Wildside bloggers, who are competitively selected each year. This is one of the few conferences that is designed for families, and as a result many bring their entire family to attend, bring the total attendees to about 150.
While bloggers learn tips and techniques to improve their blogging in the morning, the families take special tours and learn about animals and conservation efforts at SeaWorld. Since the conference is intimate and personalized, the bloggers walk away feeling like they've made lifelong friends and learned exactly what they needed to make their blog better. Plus, they have a fun-filled family vacation.
Building Long Term Relationships with Influencers
I wish that more brands were interested in building these types of long-lasting relationships with influencers. This type of group goes far beyond simply pitching and paying for content. In fact, SeaWorld doesn’t really require its bloggers to create anything. They do create though, lots of stuff. The photos above are of the glasses that were given to the bloggers at the conference. One blogger, Kristin Barclay, from In Deep H20 lamented that they didn’t get a chance to take a photo with the glasses on, so the #blueglasses #adventurecon14 hashtags we employed to extend the experience beyond the conference.
This is Kristin Barclay
What You Need to Build a Strong Influencer Program
I have been asked by clients and other practitioners how to build a strong influencer relations program. Zoetica has built a number of these programs over the past few years. The Wildside program is going into its sixth year. Here are five qualities that we believe must be in place;
- Long-term commitment by the brand. Strong influencer programs are not built one campaign time. If you want to have a relationship blogger, you have to commit to working with them over a longer period of time.
- Strong management. A team of influencers need to know that they have a just right person with whom they can connect. Hiring an agency can work, but the brand should have someone that can provide continuity over time. Some agencies have relationships with bloggers that they can pitch to different clients. In this case, the agency owns the relationship with the bloggers. This can be either good or bad, depending on what kind of brand and product you have. If you don’t have the kind of brand that can hold a bloggers attention over time, this may be the type of approach you would take to influencer relations. In any case, SOMEONE has to have a long-term relationship with the influencer.
- High standards for team members. The selection process for influencers needs to be competitive. Bloggers will sometimes stop blogging, or move onto something else. Bloggers notice who you choose to represent your brand and make choices about if they want to be associated with the program based on that, as well as your product or service itself. Make sure you have a standard and stick to it. A good tool to check out bloggers is InkyBee.
- Interaction between the bloggers. One of the biggest benefits of being a part of an influencer team for a brand is that you meet and get to know other bloggers. These relationships can truly be the catalyst that can launch a blogger to higher levels.
- Open process and inclusiveness. One of the reasons that we launched AdventureCon was to allow bloggers who are not part of the official brand ambassador team a chance to come and meet the brand and other bloggers and to grow their skills as a blogger. Many of the Wildside team have attended an AdventureCom event as a paid attendee and went on to be competitively selected.