The power to publish is distributed with abandon across the modern digital space; today’s digital natives have never known a world wherein the capacity to share knowledge and opinion is controlled en masse by newspaper magnates or broadcasting groups. Over the last couple of decades there has instead been a shift in focus, with the emerging heights of the communications industry interested solely in providing a platform that allows user-generated content to flourish, and not in producing content directly. When the inevitable remake of Citizen Kane rolls around, no doubt Charles will be recreated as a web developer.
In this context, anybody with an opinion and a laptop can be a publisher: we’re all columnists now. As the more successful bloggers have accrued followers, readers or viewers in some considerable volume, the power of this sector to influence opinions and drive buying decisions has grown massively. Further, the relationship that these people are able to establish with their followers is often substantially more powerful and emotive than we might have with a radio station or a newspaper, giving them even more capacity both to raise awareness and generate intention to purchase. This is why they should matter to the marketer.
Space and Time already has some considerable experience in this emerging sector; helping our clients to select and forge a strong, lasting relationship with bloggers and vloggers whose tone, content and audience are a good match for the brand or product being promoted.
Recently we held a workshop to show some local businesses how this powerful new opinion former could be harnessed to their benefit. Our resident outreach expert, Alex Fisher, offers her view of the day and a case study of one of her clients….
Last month Space and Time opened its doors once again to local businesses wanting to learn more about how best to manage their social presence. The morning was a great success, with attendees arriving armed with questions and queries, eager to quiz us on what we do best, over coffee and croissants. For the first time, rather than focusing solely on social content and paid social activity, we went on to discuss the benefits of blogger outreach.
A recent success story in this discipline is our client Mustela. This is a premium baby skincare brand, for which the power and importance of blogger outreach has been particularly evident. Indeed, this client has become a potent example of the capacity for blogger activity to raise awareness and directly drive sales.
Our initial (and ongoing) research into the sector revealed a high volume of ‘mummy bloggers’ out there: this is a topic with a large cumulative audience, arrayed across a longtail range of blogs of various sizes. We recognised a clear opportunity to leverage this audience to the client’s benefit by working initially with a select handful of bloggers whose tone and demography were well suited to the product. Sifting through endless nappy, toy and carrycot reviews, we discovered a handful of gems within this popular blogging vertical, that all appeared to have a high impact on their followers, many of whom comment on their every video or blog. Many followers seem keen to be influenced: Where are their children’s clothes from? What is the best milk formula to buy? What should they be feeding their own children? For us and our client this was clearly a treasure-trove of marketing opportunities.
One of these gems in question has been Chelsea, a devoted mother of the ‘world’s most followed baby’ (ITV’s ‘This Morning’s’ words, not ours!), Harlen Bodhi White.
With an Instagram audience of 209k followers, Chelsea was one of the larger influencers out there and therefore likely to be highly sought out by brands like ours. However, a persistent approach and the quality of the Mustela product proved successful. We initially offered a few free products and Chelsea promptly replied, more than happy to work with us under a product exchange basis. Since our first point of contact she has gained even more followers and even secured a spot on ITV’s This Morning. (http://www.itv.com/thismorning/hot-topics/harlen-bodhi-white-instagram-baby.)
This has been a very exciting and rewarding endeavour, both for us and the client, as we’ve watched the brand grow as a result. Having a figure like Chelsea on board as an unofficial ambassador for Mustela’s products has significantly grown the social media following of the client’s own pages. In the space of just over a month we gained over 1000 followers and on a number of occasions this growth has dramatically spiked directly off the back of Chelsea’s posts reviewing Mustela’s various products.
Alongside her broadcast appearances, Cheslea’s extensive coverage ranges from magazine interviews to Instagram stories generating over 15,000 views. And this month, the best yet, an actual Instagram wall post, reaching over 800 likes in less than 24 hours! Many of her followers have commented, interested to know who Mustela are and if they would be a suitable brand to use on their little ones.
All the engagement generated from these posts has allowed us to build further relationships with other industry profiles, giving additional exposure to the Mustela brand. Part of our strategy has also been to leverage all this great material created by our blogger scheme by sharing it on Mustela’s own social media pages as testimonials, further enhancing the trust and authenticity of the products.
As presented to the businesses who attended our workshop, this is a key marketing tool that exherts a powerful influence over purchasing behaviour. Seeing their favourite role model endorsing specific products has proven to encourage many on-target consumers to go on to purchase.
Having made a breakthrough with bloggers as influential as Chelsea, there are exciting times ahead for Mustela. Due to the nature of parenthood, this is one sector in which a volume of new publishers and bloggers are constantly coming on stream, so our efforts to establish and maintain the right relationships with likeminded influencers continue.
Social Media Executive