Bloggers, influencers, social commentators, however you want to describe them, there is no denying the power they hold in modern marketing. From the Instagram famous to the YouTube Vlogger, it seems what was once a hobby is now becoming a fully-fledged career for all generations.
And with anything that peaks in popularity the inevitable controversy follows. Bloggers have come under a whole wave of debate recently with popular YouTube star, Logan Paul, pushing even his own questionable boundaries and blogger, Elle Darby, being “exposed” for requesting a free hotel stay in exchange for a favourable review on her channels.
There is no denying that the recent wave of influencers are, well, deeply influential and when done right it can be mutually beneficial to both brand and blogger. However, it’s relatively new territory for marketing professionals, the Advertising Standards Authority and even the legal industry, and the waters on what is fair and what is moral are becoming increasingly muddied.
In the case of Elle Darby, it’s clear that people have strong views on either side of the fence, and thanks to social media these views can be clearly expressed. The White Moose Café, after all is no stranger to hitting the headlines. It is often one to court controversy after barring vegans visiting the café, so there is no doubting Elle Darby has fallen victim to a PR storm orchestrated by the hotel’s manager, Paul Stenson.
Perhaps Elle was somewhat naïve in her approach to the hotel and others would argue that she’d picked the wrong hotel to mess with. In terms of her pitch she was polite and clearly outlined what she hoped to receive, and in the case of most professional outlets, either a simple no or a request on how it could really work for them would have sufficed.
However, what her approach did lack was how she could really deliver tangible results. Relying simply on the number of followers and potential reach isn’t enough to showcase how a blog, Instagram post or vlog could influence visitors or convert into further bookings for the hotel. Unfortunately, anyone can now buy thousands of followers, you can even purchase them from a vending machine in Russia! So bloggers and brands alike need to become savvier.
All social media platforms and blog hosts allow you to dive deep into a page’s analytics and can reveal things about followers that could prove beneficial and reach a brand’s key target audience. Such things as age, gender, location can all provide some insight, along with how campaigns have worked, and delivered, in the past. By building long-lasting relationships with influencers and brands, future campaigns and strategies can be crafted based on solid evaluation, not by simply how many people may have potentially seen something.
What has also been highlighted is the dark side of blogging and whether there is a true authenticity in what influencers are sharing. This is why it’s key for brands to have complete confidence in the product they are offering and selecting bloggers that are in keeping with their brand strategy.
There is no question that bloggers and influencers absolutely do have a place in modern marketing, and these latest examples show that there is a lot of education needed across the board. Blogging started as a somewhat unregulated industry that is making up the rules as quickly as it can keep up, so it’s not surprising clear lines are now being crossed.
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