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How to Drive Better Engagement from Sponsored Blogging

Christian Hughes, Vanitha Swaminathan and Gillian Brooks

Listen to the authors present their findings (source: August 2019 JM Webinar)

Influencer marketing has become an important component of firms’ digital marketing strategies. Nearly 75% of marketers today use influencers to spread word of mouth (WOM) about products and brands on social media. Some 65% of multinational brands plan to increase spending on influencer marketing, with spending expected to reach $10 billion by 2020. However, despite the explosion of these social influencers, their effectiveness is still low: For an influencer on Facebook, the average engagement rate per post is .37%; on Twitter, it is even lower at .05%.  

Our Journal of Marketing study explores the effectiveness of sponsored blogging, a large and important category of influencer marketing. Companies are increasingly soliciting bloggers to write about specific products and brands, in what are called “sponsored posts.” Bloggers can help generate WOM about a brand, product, or service directly through the content of these sponsored posts. Firms have deployed sponsored blogging both successfully (i.e., Nokia’s camera phone campaign in Finland) and unsuccessfully (i.e., Dr Pepper’s “Raging Cow” campaign). However, the field needs to develop a better understanding of what drives the success of influencer marketing as a whole and sponsored blogging in particular.   

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Our research team provides a comprehensive framework that examines the drivers of sponsored blogging strategies, including blogger characteristics, content characteristics, and campaign incentives. We use real in-market customer response data and sponsored blogging campaigns and link these to concrete brand engagement outcomes. Our findings show that in a blog context, blogger expertise, campaign intent, hedonic value of post, and campaign giveaways are key drivers of online brand engagement. In addition, blogger expertise exerts a greater impact in awareness (vs. trial) campaigns. On Facebook, hedonic value exerts a positive impact, and trial campaigns benefit more from the use of hedonic content. Campaign giveaways exert a negative impact, highlighting the potential cannibalizing role of one platform on another (blog vs. Facebook). Taken together, the findings shed light on various factors that govern how influencer campaigns elicit consumer engagement across multiple platforms.

This study examines how social influencers can affect consumers at different stages of the consumer purchase funnel and suggests that the type of social media platform moderates the impact of social influencer and post characteristics. We develop a framework of strategies based on the social media platform in use and the firm’s campaign intent to inform practitioners about the type of content and influencer to use under each condition. The findings have implications for practitioners who want to employ influencers and show that the choice of bloggers should be guided by campaign intent. 

Read the full article.

From: Christian Hughes, Vanitha Swaminathan, and Gillian Brooks, “Driving Brand Engagement Through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns,” Journal of Marketing, 83 (September).

Go to the Journal of Marketing

Christian Hughes is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame.

Vanitha Swaminathan is professor and Robert W. Murphy Faculty Fellow in Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business.

Gillian Brooks is a Post-Doctoral Career Development Fellow in Marketing, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.