Featured in Bizwomen – A case for the middleman: building a business uniting big-time brands with big-name bloggers

In a recent Bizwomen profile, Danielle Wiley shares Sway Group’s origin, goals and growth, as well as the evolution of the blogging industry. Below is an excerpt.

“Bloggers are like a trusted voice or a friend to loyal readers. So an endorsement on a blog can do a lot for a brand looking to reach a very specific audience. And as the blog space has continued to explode, sponsored content like what Wiley wanted to create has become a more effective alternative to traditional advertising. Need proof? Sixty-one percent of U.S. consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post, and 82 percent of consumers enjoy reading content from brands, according to an infographic produced by Ignite Spot.

Seeing that possibility, Wiley realized that the current model wasn’t working. Agencies were struggling to coordinate with influencers, and the bloggers wanted to focus on creating content and communities. They didn’t want to waste time negotiating with agencies. So you had two groups who could be very effective if they came together, but they spoke different languages and were motivated by different factors. Many great businesses — from consultancies to recruitment firms — have formed on the basis of helping two disparate groups come together. And Wiley knew she was on to the next big idea.”

For more on the Sway Group story and future plans, you can read the feature here.

Celebrating One Year of Massive Sway with Viral Content

As we celebrate the one-year mark of our acquisition of The SITS Girls and the creation of Massive Sway, we reflect back on 2014 and couldn’t be happier with the results. By expanding our audience reach and engagement, Massive Sway has effectively made our organization an unparalleled source of opportunities for brands looking to work with online publishers.

Proving the longevity and lifespan of online campaigns, the below viral content developed by Massive Sway bloggers recently received attention on mainstream media outlets.

Healing Tomato’s Brussels Sprout Grilled Cheese developed for Sara Lee made Mashable’s list of 10 delicious hangover foods that won’t break your New Year’s resolution.

• The Baked Arancini recipe Anita Schecter created for Minute Rice was featured on The Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen on New Year’s Day. Her Savory Cheesecake with Honeyed Walnuts developed for Mirassou was also featured on the site January 5.

We are proud of the work we’ve done together in just one year’s time on behalf of great clients and innovative brands. Cheers to 2015 and a GREAT year ahead!

Sway Group Profiled in Adweek, Finds Social Influencers Who Get Results

We’re thrilled to share our recent feature in Adweek – a portrait piece highlighting our network of social influencers and ability to deliver highly targeted impressions.

Sway Group captured Adweek’s attention for our work with big name companies and small businesses creating more than just digital buzz, but results from the lucrative and coveted millennial demographic.

With every campaign we execute, it is our goal (and has been from day one) to elevate sponsored content. If sponsored content is well-written, compelling and fits in with the overall brand and feel of a site or platform, that’s a win for everyone – brands and consumers alike.

So thankful for the amazing clients and dynamic influencers we work with everyday to deliver groundbreaking results! You can read the full article here.

sway-portrait-01-2015

Good Content is Still King

As we look ahead to 2015, marketing trends will continue to evolve. We’ll see more real time marketing, raw footage and digital integration, combined with a focus on native advertising and new influencers. Yet as much as things change, one thing will remain the same. Good content will always be good content that people want to read. Below are Sway Group CEO Danielle Wiley’s five tips to generating compelling sponsored content.

1. Find the right influencers for your brand
Your brand ambassador is out there; you just need to find her. Do your research to understand an influencer’s past posts before reaching out to engage. A vegan food blogger won’t be interested in a new fast food chicken wrap but a food blogger who has written about quick and easy family meals may be a fit.

2. Let the influencer guide the story
Giving the influencer creative freedom to write about the brand will generate a genuine post, in their voice, with their perspective. The content becomes more than a PSA and builds credibility to further engagement.

3. Let the influencer guide the engagement
Speaking of engagement, allowing your influencers to interact with their followers in their own way is what makes the relationship powerful. An influencer has built up a trust with their community. Trust in that relationship.

4. Build a deep and lasting relationship with the influencers you work with
Making an impact with an influencer can evolve into ongoing communication. By working with an influencer long-term and on a consistent basis, you can create a deeper connection that will work harder and come in handy in times of crisis (such as a product recall, etc.).

5. Develop different programs for different KPIs and then measure against each of them
Impressions, sales, engagement and social media “likes” are a few examples of metrics to track. Be sure to set these forth PRIOR to the start of a campaign.

If you follow the above, it will be reflected in the quality of content developed. Sponsored does not have to be a dirty word, and if done well, won’t hurt your SEO or brand image.

Eight Instagram Tips for Insta-Success

Instagram is an undeniable marketing channel if you’re looking to target Gen X and Millennials, as two-thirds of the platform’s users are between the ages of 18 and 44, and most are women (Source: eMarketer). Millennials spend more than 5 hours a day on social media viewing User Generated Content (UGC) – which is 20% more influential when it comes to purchasing and 35% more memorable than other forms of media, according to a study by Ipsos.

Social media measurement start-up Simply Measured’s analysis of brand research shows 86% of top brands incorporated Instagram into their marketing strategies during third quarter of 2014, representing a 15% year-over-year increase. Cool fact: Forrester Research, Inc. reports ‪Instagram receives almost 60 times more engagement than Facebook and many brands are shifting their social media strategy to keep up.

Sway Group CEO, Danielle Wiley, recently spoke at the SMX Social Media Marketing Summit to share Instagram tips and best practices for brands to succeed in Instagram’s visually oriented social network. Below are her eight tips with examples of brands getting it right. View her full presentation here for more insight and illustration of the examples mentioned below.

Eight Instagram Tips for Insta-Success:

  1. Encourage participation from your community
    • @food52 does a nice job of this by encouraging fans to share their own photos with a tag for a chance at a regram on the popular site.
  1. Engage influencers to post on your behalf. The trust and engagement that they have with THEIR audience will almost always trump that of a brand.
    • @ShopYourWay is an innovative shopping community built around an individual’s social network. By tapping in to teen influencer, Ricky Dillon’s social network, Shop Your Way created organic reach and buzz among a new target, driving traffic to their website.
  1. Focus on post tagging and caption content.
    • Especially now that you can edit your captions, take advantage of your keywords by adding hashtags. @wholefoodsmarket uses multiple hashtags, including location and popular products to attract new followers.
    • Viewers will also tag one of their followers in the comments as a form of forwarding an FYI. Consider posts that your followers will be inspired to tag others.
  1. Speaking of hashtags, consider using meme tags or tags that are trending to capture more eyeballs, as appropriate.
    • @NBC recently utilized #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) to promote the female stars of its Wednesday night line up. Note: The hashtag must make sense for your brand. Don’t jump on the bandwagon as a purely promotional tactic.
  1. Balance fun with business.
    • @anthropologie knows their viewer well and posts cute puppies peppered in with pictures of the new denim collection to bring personality to their feed.
  1. Posts that include another user handle in the caption receive 56% higher engagement.
    • @designaddictmom’s photo of her child’s room skyrocketed in views when she shared with @ikeausa and they reposted.
  1. Reward followers with Instagram-only promotions.
    • The #ExperienceMichelin campaign is a recent example of contest based only on a photo submission to the platform.
  1. Never forget that Instagram is a visual Enhance your photos with photo-editing apps to make your photos work as hard as they can.
    • A few examples to try include, PicPlayPost, Instasize, Afterlight, PicsArt, LineCamera and Moldiv.