So here we are at the end of 2017 and on the cusp of another year – welcome 2018. So, this is normally the time when we start predicting what’s ahead, what’s new and what’s dead in the waters of 2017.
We are no trend setters (we are in it for the long term folks) and don’t profess to have the insights into what’s hot and what’s not (hello WGSN, Gartner and all). However, what we do here at Antelope is try and keep our finger on the pulse of how to talk to customers, how to speak to them in a way that they might respond and how to help our clients understand what these ways might be.
2017 has been an interesting year for those talking about brands. To us it seems to have been the year that bloggers became the main gang to be in. The year that instead of writing about products, writers are writing about bloggers writing about products and services (get that)? A casing point was The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine running their Xmas cover of the year with three influential bloggers on it (Freddie Harrel (www.freddieharrel.com), Kat Farmer (doesmybumlook40) and Erica Davies (the-edited). Great feature and some truly brilliant bloggers mentioned (personal faves of ours included Style Memos and The Frugality). Some of these bloggers were once journalists and now are bloggers (so effectively created a larger platform to reach people than the people they once were employed by have achieved) and most of them have agents to manage their profiles, partnerships and PR.
Sure bloggers have been blogging for a long time now. As soon as social media showed its capacity to spread word of mouth so effectively, bloggers realised the power of their own brand. What has become more and more apparent this year is that brands are courting bloggers more than magazines, papers and traditional media outlets. The rise of the influence of the blogger comes as no great surprise to us. Bloggers by nature of the fact they blog about themselves embody the best of a good brand.
- They totally understand their audience. They have thought about their blogger profile and who they want to read their blog and therefore are building their social audiences accordingly. They can request those who they want to read their blogs to interact with them (by following them on social media) in an attempt to build a relationship, and build a brand.
- They feed this audience regularly. Even if they are not blogging every day, they are normally posting photos on social media. This, in turn, continues to fuel their relationships with their followers (who of course are potential clients).
- They build their brand around a lifestyle. It is not a hard sell of a product or a service. They are selling you their life. Be it their gorgeous hair, house or family and friends.
- They engage with their customers. Bloggers thrive off engagement - so they will answer comments to generate more. This makes bloggers happy as they are judged on number of interactions, and makes their followers happy as who doesn’t feel loved when their comment is replied to?
- They are trusted and transparent. This is an interesting one and definitely where the tides have turned in 2017. From the days of bloggers being mouthpieces for products and brands as the trade off for freebies, they now hashtag “gifts”, are open about press previews and trips and normally state in small print about “earning” from cookie click throughs from website to website.
So, what does this mean for brands who don’t have the big bucks of those market leaders to attract their favourite blogger? How do you get your 15 mins of fame on their Instagram feed? Well for brands big and small the rise of the influence of a blogger is a great thing.
- They are accessible. Even if they have a management agent on their websites, you can normally tweet/message them on IG to reach them directly.
- They are all looking for new and interesting products to differentiate their feeds from their fellow bloggers.
- They like independent brands and often will hero those smaller, less known brands.
- They aren’t tied into The Man. So although often are “gifted” products they write what they like and even if writing a paid for partnership are in the majority unlikely to write about something just for the money (as remember they are their own brand so are more likely to not dilute their brand with a partnership not in line with their brand values).
- They are like you and me and normally their blogs have grown out of a lifestyle and therefore if your brand is really of benefit to your target audience and you have targeted the right blogger, you have a good chance of them being interested in testing and possibly featuring your brand.
We think there is a place for everyone in the world of content. Whether bloggers, journalists, reporters or commentators, they are all writers. It is all about understanding your audiences and ensuring that you talk to those audiences in a way that resonates with them. This applies from the brand to customer and from the brand to the blogger/journalist/writer. Selling (be it a product or a service) is more than a transaction. It is about building relationships and this is something that the bloggers know and get right post after post.