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Are you really bloggered? | Working with influencers by John Dugdale

by Sarah McManus - September, 2015

Hi Guuuuuuuuuuuuuys!”

Hear those two words and, nine times out of 10, a bubbly, young, chirpy, mildly nauseating, girl blogger comes to mind.

Watch as many video blogs a day as I do, and they are the synonymous opener that captures audiences of millions from far and wide in a myriad of uploaded watch-me videos. Be they talking about their latest hauls, products they like, or just rants about no subject in particular.

Zoella has so much to answer for. She and her jolly band of Brighton-based bloggers are the first generation to turn what was once a bedroom hobby, into multi-million pound careers. And this has encouraged many others to think that replicating their success is a simple walk in the park.

Many imagine they too will be launching books and fashion lines by the time they’ve collected 18,000 subscribers, let alone the millions that Zoella, Tanya, Jim and the others attract.

All hail the influencers.

Video blogging has seen unprecedented success, the biggest probably since the launch of TV spots. Brands now clamour to work with these new “celebrities”, knowing they engage directly with the audiences they need. Combine the subscribers, with video views, Instagram, Twitter and any other social media channel you can think of, and the opportunities to see far outweigh the circulation figures of the glossies.

It’s these figures that attract me to ensure my clients’ budgets are going to secure the biggest reach possible, with as much emphasis on promoting the product as possible, without it coming across as if the blogger’s palm has been greased to read a script and hold up the product.

Don’t get me wrong; for every blogger that has strict brand protocols, there are many who do just take the money, but then it’s doubtful that their 12,000 odd subscribers will be that engaged.

To achieve a balance of authenticity, it’s important that bloggers genuinely want to work with a brand, can engage their audience with it and leave the viewer with the impression that long after the video is consigned to the archives that the influencer is still genuinely using the product they have pedalled.

Many a time when I’ve approached a “name”, and, having given them time to review the products and secured the budget to meet their rates, they’ve eventually turned me down.

They believe in their brand equity and their followers, who have been instrumental in helping them get to where they are, so they’re not about to jeopardise that for a quick buck.

In most cases, many have other brands waiting in the wings that fit their profile to a tee.

Back in their salad days, video bloggers were a novelty most brands wouldn’t dally with. Nor did young, green, interlopers didn’t have a posse of agents, handlers, PAs and other professional do-ers to massage their brand value.

Fast forward three years and they have all the aforementioned trappings and more, morphing their personalities into recognisable, professional media brands with inflated price tags to match.

Celebrity endorsement is no longer the currency of popstars, comedians, film stars and Z list Big Brother housemates. Many of the first gen vloggers now have books; make-up lines, a fashion label, and broadcast careers as a result of hard investment in their status as experts who are worth listening too.

Audiences today aren’t gullible or stupid, recognising the authenticity of a girl from Sheffield who endorses a product, as opposed to yet another soap star cashing in on their fame to double as an (over)paid mouthpiece.

Chances are if a favourite beauty influencer recommends a new lipstick or foundation, the fans will trot into the nearest Boots on their next pay day to buy it.

Question is, where is the tipping point for all this?

Well, the net will get more saturated with more wannabees badly emulating something which is at its peak, but unless they discover a unique twist on a theme, they ‘ll get lost in the general morass.

Whereas the stalwarts and more original content providers will keep the lights on.

The challenge for the next gen is to invent a niche to secure a solid, repeat, engaged audience. What that niche will be in this age of instant gratification is anyone’s guess, but it’s going to have to be something the rest of us haven’t thought of yet……………