Sway Group CEO at Marketing Land: “Why Brands Should Turn To Bloggers Instead Of Celebrity Spokespeople”

Sway Group’s CEO Danielle Wiley is a featured writer for Marketing Land (don’t miss her article on “How To Market On Pinterest And Instagram — Even If You Don’t Have A Branded Account”), and her most recent contribution just went live this morning. In “Why Brands Should Turn To Bloggers Instead Of Celebrity Spokespeople,” Danielle shares her thoughts on adopting a broader definition of what makes an effective spokesperson.

how to influence purchase

For some companies, it’s far more valuable to hire an affordable spokesperson with a track record of good ROI. Someone with a built-in community, social reach, and real world expertise in brand collaboration.

That’s where online publishers come in. It may seem far-fetched that a blogger has the potential to wield as much influence as, say, Bill Cosby — but the fact is, times have changed. When it comes to influencing purchasing decisions, celebrities simply don’t hold the sway they used to.

Danielle covers the power of blogger endorsements, the research that indicates blogs have become one of the most influential digital resources when it comes to buying goods and services, the pitfalls of using traditional celebrity spokespeople, and how to create brand passion among online communities.

Read her entire article here, and follow Danielle’s future Marketing Land articles for more advice on content marketing, social media, and partnering with online publishers.

Storytelling Week: Sway Roster Shares Powerful Blogger Stories

Each of our bloggers know what it’s like to write something that truly resonates with their audience. Maybe it’s a piece that generates a lot of comments, or results in some meaningful email conversations — or maybe it simply lingers in a reader’s memory, long after the words are published.

In honor of National Storytelling Week, we asked some of the folks from our Sway roster to tell us about a time when they were particularly moved by a blogger’s story. Here’s what they shared:

nsw_logo

 

“The Logic of Stupid Poor People” by academic/blogger Tressie McMillan Cottom has stuck with me because I am intimately aware of being on both ends of the spectrum of economics: very wealthy growing up, losing it all, being affected by Reagonomics, and then ending up homeless and on welfare with a child to raise at 15. I knew people judged me, but I didn’t know why I felt the need to spend money on looking presentable. I just knew I didn’t want to be an Other. This stuck with me longer than I ever expected. — Kelly Wickham of Mocha Momma.

Why do poor people make stupid, illogical decisions to buy status symbols? For the same reason all but only the most wealthy buy status symbols, I suppose. We want to belong. And, not just for the psychic rewards, but belonging to one group at the right time can mean the difference between unemployment and employment, a good job as opposed to a bad job, housing or a shelter, and so on. Someone mentioned on twitter that poor people can be presentable with affordable options from Kmart. But the issue is not about being presentable. Presentable is the bare minimum of social civility. It means being clean, not smelling, wearing shirts and shoes for service and the like. Presentable as a sufficient condition for gainful, dignified work or successful social interactions is a privilege. It’s the aging white hippie who can cut the ponytail of his youthful rebellion and walk into senior management while aging black panthers can never completely outrun the effects of stigmatization against which they were courting a revolution. Presentable is relative and, like life, it ain’t fair.

(Read Tressie’s full post.)

I love Shana from aintnomomjeans.com. She is a fashion and style blogger that doesn’t turn me off for being a fashion and style blogger. Instead, she makes it seem like every woman has an inner Wonder Woman just waiting to be shown. In her post titled “Post-Chemo Recovery Update (aka IS YOUR HAIR GROWING YET, S?)”, she shares her vulnerability and reflects on her hair growing back after her recent battle with breast cancer. Gulp. Love her. — Heather Gibbs Flett of RookieMoms.com.

I’ve never been so excited to shave my legs.  HA!  Add that to things I never thought I’d say. But this process is weird.  I mean my hair is growing back, but my eyelashes have never looked worse.  And half my eyebrow fell off the other day.  Seriously.  I took a shower, then toweled off and looked in the mirror- BAM.  Half an eyebrow.

(Read Shana’s full post.)

Amanda’s writing is always honest and raw, but this particular post, called “Staging Happines,” about being in the wings, both literally and figuratively, struck a chord. It’s a reminder that we’re not perfect, we’re all struggling with our own forms of inner demons, and that sometimes the “happy ending” is just realization, acceptance, and readying ourselves for what tomorrow brings. — Kristen Chase of Cool Mom Picks.

Getting lost in managing other people’s details is a very real problem, a routine scenario even, when it comes to moms (or at least this mom). I understand the role I had in disappearing.  I  want to make sure that I use my voice. I need it for my sanity, for my family’s happiness, and ultimately, it’s my responsibility to give the girls a template for helping stage their own happiness as they go through life.

(Read Amanda’s full post.)

I loved this post by Tara that describes her first delivery as a midwife in Haiti. It’s a harrowing account of how fragile life is, and also a pointed reminder that childbirth can be a life-or-death situation for many women without resources. — Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan.

Morning light came, Stephanie had made some progress. She did some walking and stair climbing and took a shower in between her vocal exercises. She worked hard all morning and into the mid afternoon.  Her blood pressure was high and the appropriate steps were taken to manage that.  Stephanie said every hour or so, “I can’t do this anymore. I feel that I have suffered too much.”

That is an understandable way to feel. These are things women in labor say. When those things are said, we say, “di tet w, mwen ka fe sa, mwen gen fos” – “tell yourself I can do this, I have strength.”  These  are easily the most often uttered words during a labor at the Heartline Maternity Center. Di tet w – ‘MWEN KA FE SA.’

(Read Tara’s full post.)

Jessica Ashley’s storytelling in “The Day We May Have Seen a Man Die” took me on a journey. I could feel the sun and the sand and the gratitude and the confusion, the fear, the hope. Her post transported me to another place…to the ocean, but also to another quieter, less explored place inside. There were moments while reading that post where I held my breath. For the rest of the day, I felt like something had expanded internally. It was both unsettling and incredibly freeing. — Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks.

Jessica’s post drew me in from the first paragraph with sharp detail and a strong sense of place, and everything from the pace of the narrative to the dialogue had me right there on that beach with her. The conclusion is even better: lovely and heartfelt and bittersweet and very, very human. — Meagan Francis of The Happiest Home.

He was limp, ashen, water foamed from his nose as swimmers dragged him to a flat of sand and a lifeguard pressed air into his mouth. Right there, as the sky turned a golden blue and sun stretched its fingers from the horizon to the crashing tide. Right there, with the babies with hats and protruding, full bellies splashing birds and stepping tiny toes into the water. Right there, with kids surfing in unzipped wetsuits and a photographer gently moving a family posed on a blanket into the right light. And me and my love, taking pictures of each other and of the seaweed, walking and talking about the big, beautiful future.

Then and there, a man may have died.

(Read Jessica’s full post.)

This is a post that details the day Shannon left her abusive mother, never physically looking back, but revisiting it every year for the past 22. Her reflections on this day have evolved from vague and philosophical, to agonizingly detailed, to therapeutically humorous. This particular post is the most concrete, from the cold steel windowsill on the bus that represented the first step of a thousand, to her mother’s cruel laughter that evokes the kind of fear that paralyzes a 3-year old upon encountering his first Disney villain. To step into this post is to step into uncertainty, disgust and redemption all at once. — Jim Lin of The Busy Dad Blog.

I packed everything I could carry into the only luggage I had, my school backpack and two plastic grocery bags. That night she screamed at me from the bottom of the stairs, “You can never come back. Your brother can come back, but you never can. There will not be one trace of your existence in this house when you leave.”

And I’ve never spoken to her since. I burned everything of mine I could burn, I sliced or tore or cut the rest and threw it all in the dumpster outside our front door. Sixteen years of my life was buried alive in that dumpster, and I’ve spent the past 19 years trying to ignore its screaming.

(Read Shannon’s full post.)

Do you have any memorable blog post links to share? Let us know in the comments!

Sway Group CEO at Marketing Land: “How To Market On Pinterest And Instagram”

Are you a fan of Marketing Land? It’s a fantastic resource for news and information on internet marketing, marketing issues and the online marketing industry, and Sway Group’s CEO Danielle Wiley is one of the site’s latest expert contributors. Her current article is titled “How To Market On Pinterest And Instagram — Even If You Don’t Have A Branded Account.” She’s hoping to convince marketers to take a good look at what these networks offer, regardless of whether they have a brand presence or not. pinterest-explore-interests

Companies that don’t yet have profiles on Pinterest or Instagram tend to overlook these platforms when it comes to planning their marketing campaigns. After all, most social programs are designed with the goal of creating new fans and followers. On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make sense to invest the time and money in a network where there’s no official account to promote. The truth is, increasing a brand’s fan base via social media is just one benefit of many. Pinterest and Instagram are ideal for visual brands related to food, beauty, lifestyle, media and fashion — but both networks are still in their infancy in terms of being embraced by marketers. Those that aren’t expanding beyond the reach of Facebook and Twitter are missing out on some amazing opportunities. Visual Networks Have Valuable Demographics It’s becoming clear that Pinterest and Instagram are incredibly effective for reaching women (84% of Pinterest users are women) and younger audiences (over 90% of Instagram users are under 35). Additionally: • Pinterest is now used by more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults (21%), as well as a full third of U.S. women. • From September 2012 to September 2013, Pinterest drove more referral traffic to publishers than Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn combined. • The average Pinterest user has a household income of over $100,000. • Instagram’s user base “is largely made up of young, urban demographics, with a significant skew towards women.” • Over 1 in 5 teens (ages 13-18) use Instagram regularly.

Danielle covers Pinterest’s amazing conversion rates and documented success in first-touch marketing, using campaign metrics to make a case for a branded account, and describes some example tactics for getting measurable results outside the default goal of increasing social media followers. Be sure to follow Danielle’s future articles for more advice on content marketing, social media, and partnering with online publishers!

Sway Group Acquisition Announcement: Personal Thoughts from the Business Partners

If anyone’s wondering whether we’re still riding high from our announcement that Sway Group now encompasses Massive Sway, The SITS Girls, and Bloggy Boot Camp, the answer is a resounding HECK YES. It’s such a major milestone for our once-tiny agency: in just two years, we’ve grown from a three-person startup to a company that owns a 50,000-strong network of diverse female publishers, a thriving blogging community, and a fast-growing social media conference series.

We’re particularly enthusiastic about the fact that Francesca Banducci and Tiffany Romero, the amazing SITS Girls founders, have joined the Sway Group team. Sway’s new business partners have shared some personal thoughts about what this company expansion means to everyone:

I am super excited about this announcement for a number of reasons. First of all, the moment Allison and I started working with Francesca and Tiffany, it was clear that we were kindred spirits. We have always worked so well together and as the years pass and we get closer and closer, it is just an amazing feeling. Second, I think this will be so great for our clients and our influencers. We have more resources, more hands on deck, more MORE to be able to succeed and make our mark! — Danielle Wiley, CEO

I’m absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the new year with the much-anticipated news of our companies joining forces. From the beginning, Sway Group has been the industry leader in harnessing the power of bloggers, and now we have a broadly increased capacity to provide specific targeting and measurable results for clients of every size. Thanks to our ability to work together to grow revenue for both bloggers and brands alike, this organization has become stronger than ever. I have no doubt that 2014 will be a year that includes continued growth for all of our current offerings, as well as uncovering new and innovative ways to leverage social platforms. — Allison Talamantez, President, Business Development and Co-Founder

As a woman-owned start-up, the leap to one company illustrates not only how we have been able grow our business quickly and successfully, but also how we continue to offer influencers and brands even more ways to work together.  As a company and as a community, we’re smarter, leaner, and faster than we’ve ever been before.  If 2013 was any indicator of future success, then I expect nothing but brilliance in the coming year.  — Francesca Banducci, COO

The transition to one company unlocks limitless possibilities for the relationship between influencers and brands.  Not only are we able to better innovate and create smart sponsored programming, but also the sky is the limit when it comes to live events.  My favorite thing about the merger is that I am never the smartest person in the room. Danielle’s strategic instincts, Allison’s vision, and the power of The SITS Girls community make for the perfect trifecta going forward.  — Tiffany Romero, Chief Evangelist

Sway Group Announces Acquisition of Massive Sway, SITS Girls, and Bloggy Boot Camp Conferences

Today we have a big announcement to make — in fact, you might even say this news is MASSIVE. Sway Group has made three strategic corporate acquisitions that have greatly expanded our audience reach and engagement, making our organization an unparalleled source of opportunities for brands looking to work with online publishers.

We now own Massive Sway, a 50,000-strong network of diverse female publishers that span all parts of the country; The SITS Girls, a well-established blogging community; and Bloggy Boot Camp, a fast-growing conference series for women in social media.

From Danielle Wiley, CEO of Sway Group:

Since 2011, our company has grown from a three-person startup to a company of 15 full-time employees. Bringing Massive Sway, SITS Girls, and the Bloggy Boot Camp conferences under the Sway Group umbrella, along with its founders Tiffany Romero and Francesca Banducci, is incredibly exciting, because these fast-growing communities of talented publishers allow us to create a truly amazing variety of programs. Now we can offer brands and agencies an even broader scale of services and targeting capabilities, including the ability to drill down by region, demographic, content vertical, and social network.

Our newly expanded operations offer publishers and brands a wide range of partnership options, including sponsored posts, social media promotions, live events and more. Of course, we also represent an exceptional roster of 85 high influence publishers in a number of categories.

We could not be more thrilled to share this news, and we’re standing by to answer any questions or provide more information.