At the beginning of 2017, Curator initiated a pilot blogger ambassador program with Simon Property Group, a global leader in premier shopping, dining, and entertainment centers.
After seeing promising results from earlier one-off and ad hoc blogger activity, Curator proposed a strategy that paired one local blogger with a Simon shopping center in their area for a yearlong partnership. Before rolling this program out broadly, Simon wanted to test the blog ambassador concept on key shopping centers in the West Region, including Stanford Shopping Center, Brea Mall and Northgate Mall. We conducted in-depth research to identify blogger partners that aligned with each center’s key shopper demographic and had the right mix of followers and proven follower engagement. For some centers, the right partner was a mom blogger with credibility with local families. For others, it was a lifestyle blogger that inspires fashion-forward shoppers. For example, Stanford Shopping Center joined forces with the Bay Area’s incredible boss lady and mom, Jeanne Chan of Shop Sweet Things, to celebrate the holidays with family Santa photos and Jeanne’s gift guide recommendations. Additionally, Santa Rosa Plaza partnered with the gorgeous Sonoma County blogger, Erika Altes of Whiskey and Lace, to showcase chic back-to-school fashions for her and her preschooler.
The single-blogger ambassador model helped each center achieve longer-term exposure across the blogger partners’ digital channels throughout the year. Blogger partners became informal spokespeople for the centers, as opposed to the short-lived blitz of seasonal or initiative-based arrangements. Each blogger obtained an in-depth understanding of Simon’s brand and each shopping destination’s overall offerings. Ultimately, the content allowed Simon to promote its centers as more than shopping malls, but also lifestyle destinations that encompass shopping, dining and entertainment.
In total, these blogger partnerships yielded nearly 200 pieces of content and millions of impressions in 2017. Beyond these results, as part of our work as a lifestyle PR agency, the blogger ambassador program allowed Simon to cultivate deeper relationships with bloggers and their digital communities.
Some highlights of the yearlong blogger ambassador program include:
· Long-term partnerships maximized budget as many bloggers offered package rates due to the depth and length of the engagement.
· Simon was able to repurpose the beautiful images from blogger ambassadors for the social media channels at each shopping center to cross promote and fully leverage the content developed. Looking ahead, there are additional opportunities for this visual content with dedicated Instagram campaigns and email marketing.
· Events co-hosted with blogger partners can draw larger and fresh audiences. It also made event programming more interesting with bloggers serving as entertainers and emcees. This is a great experiential marketing tactic to incentivize attendance.
· While our partners created beautiful images in 2017, we’re working with ambassadors now to add more video into the mix. For example, Instagram stories are an important extension of Instagram posts and blog posts that enjoy astonishing engagement.