Now that the dust has settled from “bloggergate,” let’s take a look at how the woman at the center of the controversy (I refuse to use her name since I don’t want to give her any more marketing reach than she’s already received) could’ve handled things differently… and in my professional opinion, more professionally.
1. How could the blogger involved in “bloggergate” have better marketed herself?
She should have introduced herself to the owner of the Charleville Lodge and asked if she could interview him for a blog piece she was working on. That would have established a fruitful relationship without her having to so brazenly ask for FIVE free nights stay exchange for favorable online PR. For starters, 5 nights is a pretty big ask. But to ask something like that when there’s know prior relationship is insult to injury.
Most importantly, however, she should have done her research on the owner of the lodge, who is a notorious social media master who uses both negative and positive publicity to the advantage of his business.
My suspicion is that this whole thing could be one giant publicity stunt, because “bloggergate” has brought tons of free promotion to the blogger, and of course to the lodge itself. We can’t forget that social media viral campaigns are all about grabbing attention by any means necessary, and even the negative brush with which the blogger is being painted has already boosted the number of her followers who are curious about her. Personal branding for a blogger is different than branding for a business. You can survive a negative incident if you respond to it swiftly as the blogger – which in this case, she did – and continue to be contrite for several months after.
2. What are some ways influencers can grow their brand (and revenue) without seeming entitled?
There’s no magic bullet to influencers growing their own personal brands, other than to write great content, build up their credibility, then reach out to business’s they respect to inquire about partnerships that could include sponsored social media posts, sponsored blog posts, or even a collaboration to create new products or services.
At the end of the day, free is never really free, which is something that Charleville Lodge was quick to point out. And asking for free things when there’s no prior relationship – especially in this magnitude – at least in my opinion, is something that more and more businesses are going to thumb their noses at as he number of “influencers” on platforms like Youtube and Instagram continues to increase, since people are constantly going to be reaching out with the same canned pitch.
Creativity in any sort of branding is key, and the most successful influencers will find ways to better engage with businesses so that it doesn’t seem so self-serving, but that it comes across as a genuine win-win for both parties involved. And THAT is the key to growing influence without coming across as entitled.