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Does it pay to sway?
by Benita Aw Yeong

You may be surprised by the amount of sponsorships bloggers get.

From dental treatment to pedicure, companies are sending free or discounted products to bloggers in the hope that they can influence their followers.

But beauty products are just the tip of the iceberg: Plastic surgery, trips around the world, birthday parties, the list goes on.

Ms Wendy Cheng, better known as Xiaxue, had her home renovation and wedding photos sponsored.

Another blogger, Miss Naomi Neo, who is just 18, receives up to $45,000 a year in sponsorships.

Ms Yang Hui Wen, regional director of blog advertising company Nuffnang, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "When advertisers sponsor bloggers, they hope to achieve 'organic chatter' among the online community.

"The sponsored product or service is often aligned with the blogger's image or personality."

She explains: "In return, the blogger uses the service or product and if she finds it useful, she may choose to review or talk about it."

Brands usually approach an exclusive and small group of bloggers and offer them what she calls "valued sponsorship opportunities".

These can pay up to hundreds of thousands an engagement, she says.

"On average, only about five bloggers a year have such opportunities," she reveals.

For bloggers who are not as prominent, there are also opportunities, although they are valued only at $6,000 to $10,000 per year for each blogger.

Ms Freda Poh, community manager at influencer marketing company Gushcloud, says companies within the fast-moving consumer goods industry, along with those in the beauty and retail sector are their biggest clients.

Hair salon Shunji Matsuo sponsors 28 bloggers as "hair ambassadors". They have to meet basic requirements such as having 1,000 Facebook and Instagram followers each and at least 100,000 hits to their blog each month, says a spokesman.

"We have been sponsoring bloggers since 1999. In the past, they used to write whatever they pleased, which was aimless and did not give us desired results. These days, we require them to come up with unique story angles," she explains.

The brand, which has its flagship salon at Ngee Ann City, offers its bloggers a treatment worth at least $300 each time.

One skincare company, Skin Inc, has resisted outright sponsorship. Instead, the brand sends out complimentary products to the media and select influencers whenever there is a new launch, says brand manager Jeneen Goh.

"Any coverage we receive is up to their discretion," she says.

Says a Shunji Matsuo spokesman: "I think bloggers are dying off... these days we find it's more effective for us to hold competitions open to the general public, hosted on Facebook, in order to raise brand awareness."

This article was first published on August 17, 2014.
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