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The Cycle of Trust

Rebecca Jukes


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into the devel h op arc m e s

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s and re trend lat f io to

Name: Rebecca Jukes Student No: N0379941 Module: FASH30001 Negotiated Project Stage 1 Tutor: Matt Gill

Fashion Communication and Promotion Word Count: 9685 with quotes 7981 without quotes

Research Accounts www.pinterest.com/becky92/ future-of-blogging-report/ https://twitter.com/MissJukes

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Chapter 1- “The Beginnings” will look into the origins and context of blogs. It will examine why it was adopted by the fashion and beauty community and used as a digital platform for expression and education. Chapter 2- “The Rise” discusses the dramatic increase in blogging for fashion and beauty and the wide variety of avenues it has explored to date. Chapter 3- “The Manipulation” explores the increasing influence of brands on blogs and looks into how brands have used bloggers for collaborations. Chapter 4- “The Questioning” discusses society’s fickle views on blogs and bloggers, testing their current levels of authenticity and power.

Contents

The Beginnings Pg.4 The Rise Pg.18 The Manipulation Pg.26 The Questioning Pg.44 The Reaction Pg.56 The Prediction Pg.66

Chapter 5- “The Reaction” analyses how a range of different brands have responded to blogging trends and developments. Chapter 6- “The Prediction” explores new advancing technology and innovations which will effect digital communications. This will lead to the forecast of possible future outcomes.

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Beginnings

Rise

Manipulation

Questioning

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Prediction

We have reached the time where blogs are approaching a full circle and we are left wondering how the phenomenon will evolve to fit our future. Digital technology and social media have become a compulsory obsession in everyday life. As blogs became popular and trusted in society, it was inevitable that they would become an important platform for marketing.

Has it all become too much? Has everyone’s ability to digitally publish their opinion resulted in the saturation of information and loss of initial incentives? Have the influence of brands and the temptation of fame, twisted the truth of online opinion? With new innovations on the horizon, will the loyal following of popular blogs become another forgotten fad?

Research

Introduction The research was undertaken through a wide range of primary and secondary research methodologies. The research was varied to gather both specific and general information. The primary research methodologies were also adapted depending on the participants, to achieve the maximum amount of information or at their request. All research has been conducted under NTU guidelines and has been referenced using the Harvard system. (See appendix 0 and 0.1)

The aim of this Research Report will analyse the cycle of blogging and how people’s feelings and incentives have developed along the way. Each chapter will look into a different section of the cycle and will conclude to a set of recommendations on the future of fashion and beauty blogs, predicting how blogs will become and how brands will use them over the next 5 years.

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Beginnings

The Beginings

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Rise

Manipulation

Questioning

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Prediction

“The Beginnings� will look into the origins and context of blogs. It will examine why it was adopted by the fashion and beauty community and used as a digital platform for expression and education.

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Beginnings

Rise

Manipulation

Questioning

Reaction

Prediction

“The birth of the blog was a little noted incident.” (Scoble and Israel 2006) This led to a series of unrelated events that developed to become the phenomena we know today. In 1994 Claudio Pinhanez published a web page documenting his life, calling it Open Diary. The same year Justin Hall did the same, making the first official personal homepage. By 1999 easy to use software began to be developed such as LiveJournal and Blogger, making it more accessible. With the first fashion blogs beginning to emerge around 2002 it wasn’t till “around 2004/2005 when personal journal blogging was adopted wholeheartedly by youth culture in the developed world.”(Miller 2011 p168) Until this period blogs were very plain and information based due to the limitations of web 1.0. As web 2.0 was developed it allowed blogs to become more social and visual.

Left: Fig.1 The Evolution of the Internet and the Web (2012) 6

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The most well known fashion and style blogs started around 2006. They all had a clear and individual focus making a statement with their blogs even before they were famous. The top style blogs such as The Face Hunter by Yvan Rodick and The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman focused their blogs on street style, an approach first used by Bill Cunningham for the New York Times. Fashion bloggers like Style Bubble by Suzie Lau and Bryan boy by Bryan Grey Yambao took a different approach by posting their personal views on current fashion and often featured themselves in their image content. The first person credited to this personal take on fashion commentary is Diana Vreeland who is said to have continuously noted down witty personal thoughts on fashion and style. Vreeland was directly credited to this in a Harpers Bazaar article by Lisa Immordino when she described Vreelands 1930’s Harpers Bazzar column “Why Don’t You...?” She said “These aphoristic musings - which to me made Vreeland the first blogger- coaxed readers out of their quotidian existence and dared them to dream.”(Immordino online 2011) This casual and inspiring use of language to engage the reader is used by the majority of fashion and beauty blogs today. Fig.2-5

Prediction

“Before even the technique, there is a dream. Chanel had it. The dream is everything.” VREELAND Fig.6

“I’m not interested in celebrities with their free dresses, I’m intrested in clothes.” CUNNINGHAM

Fig.7

Left: Fig.2 Bryan Grey Yambao (2011) Fig. 3 Suzie Lau (2010) Fig.4 Scott Schuman (2012) Fig.5 Yvan Rodic (2011) Above: Fig.6 Diana Vreeland Fig.7 Bill Cunningham 8

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“The desire desire to tell one’s “The one’s life life narrative to the world, to narrative to the world, to write write about one’sexperiences... personal about one’s personal experiences... a kind of through a kindthrough of chronological chronological public diary sits public diary sits quite easily quite in a contemporary in a easily contemporary society in society in which compulsive which compulsive intimacy has intimacy has become a become a major way to overcome major way to overcome disembeddedness and work disembeddedness and work towards self- realisation.” towards self- realisation.” (Miller 2011 ) (Miller 2011 p170)

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The search for acceptance has been increasingly important, among youth culture. The development of blogs has made it easier for them to seek acceptance from a like minded society, which may not be available to them in the physical world. “In late modernity, the demand for intimacy becomes a part of self realisation” (Miller 2011). This desire for self discovery and awareness has made blogging and social media the primary platforms for youth culture to develop their personal character and a supportive network. “Girls in particular seem to seek and benefit from the peer support in cyberspace.” (Tapscott. 1998.). Although this understanding that girls more noticeably strive for acceptance and popularity amongst each other is not exclusive to cyberspace. It has been observed for decades but made more apparent through their use of technology for communication. It was explained by Dale Spender in his book Nattering on the Net, that “girls are interested in the personal relationships in the ongoing story of existence.” (1995) A previous observance of this was seen through women’s use of the telephone and how they liked to be seen by other women to be on the phone as a statement of popularity. “Since a girls dormitory mates will glean evidence of her popularity from calls she receives on the phone, we can suspect that some girls will arrange for calls to be made.” (Goffman 1959) This idea of girls use of technology to claim their popularity goes far to explain why fashion and beauty blogging is a perfect platform for its main user; the digitally savvy young female.

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BLOGOSPHERE

Beginnings

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The friendship and networking aspect of blogging has become increasingly apparent in its more recent years and is often called the “blogosphere.” Defined in the Oxford dictionary as “personal websites and blogs collectively” (Oxford Dictionary online) The Blogosphere is the creation of a digital conversation, linking bloggers together in a global network. It has been described as “a new media ecosystem... based on knowledge, entertainment and the sharing of ideas.”(Stone 2004) The increased social connection through the blogosphere has lead to the creation of things like Google friend connect, blog rolling and analysis of blog followers so that content can be tailored to them.

Questioning

Reaction

Prediction

The blogosphere is the result of an increased reliance and use of social media for supportive and promotional platforms. Successful bloggers no longer just have a blog but opt for a broad range of digital platforms. In an online survey, 30 fashion and beauty bloggers were asked the question: “Do you think it is important for the success of your blog to also be on various social media?” There was an almost one sided response, with 90% of the girls answering yes. Many then went on to explain their answer adding that social media allows them to reach and interact with a bigger audience. Some also stated that Twitter in particular was where they grew their network of other bloggers and promoted their site.(See Appendix 1) When asked where they find their inspiration for their blog, over half stated that it was other blogs that they follow. (See Appendix 1) Some of the respondents also stated that the reason why they started blogging was because they were inspired by other blogs and wanted to join the community. This leads to the idea that bloggers write as much for each other as they do their non blogging readers and explains that it is important for them to be part of the blogging community.

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Digital Voyeurism

The people primarily in the fashion and beauty blogging community are females of Generation Y. In a report by McCrindle research in 2007 it describes them as the “most educated generation in history.” Born to parents of the Boomer generation “Gen Y children have been taught that all opinions are equally important.” (Van den Bergh, Behrer 2011) It is these qualities that have made online platforms such as blogging so appealing to them, as they can express their opinions and use the internet to connect with others.

Due to its public accessibility blogging allows voyeurism to take place easily without the viewer being cautious about their actions. “Consultant psychiatrist Dr Milan Balakrishnan says, “Our voyeuristic instincts have been revolutionised by social networking” (Antao 2013) The publicly personal nature of blogs makes them a prime situation for voyeurism to take place. Many fashion and beauty bloggers update their platforms regularly with the top bloggers uploading content across a range of platforms every day. In an interview with Jessica Dearnley from fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog Forever Vanity, she said: followers “want to read blogs like they’re talking to their best friends.”(See appendix 2) This is reflected in the language and style that a lot of fashion and beauty blogs use showing an open and friendly approach.

“People are not watching, but rather being watched, inspected and recorded all the time; they are reduced to appearances, to be scammed and scrutinised by anonymous and unseen authorities.” (Barnard. 1998) Fig.8 Eyerman (1952) 14

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As people became aware of the voyersitic nature of the internet it lead to the increased actions of narcissism. A prime example of the narcissistic nature of blogging is the rapid increase of “selfies”. Announced the word of 2013 when it was added to the Oxford dictionary in October. It is described as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website” (Oxford Dictionary 2013) An article by Blogoshpere magazine details how cynics are claiming that the selfie “is a symptom of our self-obsessed society.” (Guthrie 2013) Many style blogs have selfies as their main image content such as Lilly Mel Rose from LLYMLRS.com who posts selfies of her outfits and makeup nearly every day. With little to no creative or unique content on her blog, her endless outfit pictures have made it one of the top UK style blogs. With over 30,000 followers on twitter and an average of 40 individual comments on each outfit post, she is a prime example of how girls support digital narcissism, as it gives them intimate access to people’s lives. When a regular follower of the LLYMLRS.com was asked how the blog made her feel her first response was it “Makes me want to be Lily’s friend!” (See Appendix 3) This shows that this community in particular love the personal feel of blogs and admire bloggers for their popularity and style.

Key Points: •Young females use blogging to seek self realisation and claim their popularity. •Blogs are allowing human characteristics like voyeurism and narcissism to take place daily. 16

Questioning

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Prediction

ROSE

LILLY

MEL

Fig. 9-17 Lilly Mel Rose (2013)

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The Rise

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“The Rise� discusses the dramatic increase in blogging for fashion and beauty and the wide variety of avenues it has explored to date.

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Beginnings

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Manipulation

The rise of fashion and beauty blogging has been dramatic and has of yet shown no signs of slowing down. Robert Scobal and Shel Israel wrote in 2006 that “the overall growth of blogging is among the fastest of any technology in the world.”(2006 p.25) This has continued to the current day with the total amount of blogs being unable to be estimated due to the constantly growing number of platforms and verifications of what is classed as a fashion and beauty blog. To give an idea of the huge followings blogs can get, top fashion blogs such as Liberty London reach over 150,000 unique visitors a month. As blogging has developed so have the platforms which are used for it. Mircoblogging through social platforms like Twitter evolved for people to upload posts quickly and direct to followers. Tumblogs via Tumblr and other image based personal sites like Pinterest and Lookbook have grown from our desire for faster visuals. Video blogging, otherwise known as Vlogging, via sites like YouTube, was also taken on by bloggers as a way to incorporate video content. This has also come from the advancement and availability of multimedia technology which has allowed everything online to become more visual and interactive.

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Questioning

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Prediction

Vlogging has dramatically increased following the rise in popularity of video content. It is often used by bloggers as a way of showing tutorials and allows them to talk directly to their viewers. In an interview with Emma from Styling Emma Jennings a fashion and beauty blogger who has more recently turned to vlogging, she claims “YouTube and blogging go quite well together just because people like to see you on all different kinds of platforms... You can relate to people more... You can get a real sense of someones personality through a Vlog.” (See Appendix 4) A similar opinion was held by Lisa from beauty blog Golden Glow , she said “I think that’s why it’s really important to try and network via Twitter and Instagram and show some of your personality.” (See appendix5) Fig. 18-19 Emma Jennings (2013)

Fig. 18-19

Styling Emma Jennings

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The rise of fashion and beauty commentary isn’t due to a sudden increase of new things to comment on, it has been created through the democratisation of the fashion and beauty industry allowing everyone the access and right to publish their opinions online. As more and more people have taken to blogging, an online fashion and beauty community has been created. With it has formed the development of a glorified perception of what a fashion and beauty blogger is like.

Fig 23.

Fig 22.

Fig 21.

Fig.20.

It was concluded by McCrindle research that “Generation Y are also the most entertained and materially endowed generation ever.” (2007, Online). This explains the importance that this community puts on the display of material things and how the admiration of style bloggers is often purely based on them having a lot of material things. Fashion and Beauty bloggers are idolised for their perfect lifestyles and huge on trend wardrobes. “It’s easy for people to see blogging as this mystical, magical thing: free shoes, events, taking photos, and eating macaroons.” (Robinson online 2013) Fashion and Beauty bloggers portray their rose tinted lives on their blogs for all to see and are often bombarded with comments from around the world telling them how much they are admired. This is often attractive enough for more people to strive to join the community and start blogging themselves.

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Fig.20. Fig.20 Bedroom of Olivia Lopez (2011) Fig 21. Dressing table of Kelly Framel (2011) Fig 22. Bedroom of Cindy Van Der Heyden (2011) Fig 23. Wollweber Freda (2012) 23


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A prime example of this was when popular American blogger Dulce Candy posted about her closet/office in 2011. It contained images of a whole room in her house filled with her clothes, makeup and shoes. (See fig. 24-30) She also did a video tour on YouTube which received just fewer than 2,000,000 views. The posts received adoring comments from around the world and the pictures were reposed multiple times on Tumblr. This example of blogger admiration backs up the previous section on digital voyeurism. This also shows how the act of blogging has become increasingly interactive allowing the content of the blogs to be discussed by the reader forming a fan based conversation.

Questioning

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Dulce Candy

There is also the growing incentive of money, which is attractive to generation Y who continue to begin their working lives in a recession. Declan Harvey for BBC’s newsbeat reported that “for the UK’s top vloggers it has become a career where they can earn thousands of pounds for mentioning a product to their millions of fans. (Harvey, online 2013) Bloggers are also renting out advertising space on their sites. Many top bloggers create a living from what was once their hobby.

Key Points: •The number of blogs continues to increase •Bloggers have broad digital platforms as opposed to stand alone blogs. •Bloggers are attracted by the materialistic lifestyles and the growing incentive of money. Fig.24-30 Tejada, Dulce Candy (2011) 24

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The Manipulation

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“The Manipulation� explores the increasing influence of brands on blogs and looks into how brands have used bloggers for collaborations.

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Comparison to Television

“It’s unsurprising that fashion and luxury brands have realised the value in engaging with the loyal audiences that bloggers have carefully built up.” (Haviland 2013 online) More and more brands are now putting that realisation into carefully thought out PR tactics, reaching out to bloggers to promote their brand.

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The rise of the internet has an extreme likeness to television developing as a mass medium in the 1950s. “The effects and fears about T.V are virtually the same as how people feel about the internet today.” (Miller 2011) The development of T.V allowed for new advancements in education and entertainment. At the beginning of the blogging and social media revolution David Tapscott wrote “to today’s medialiterate kids, televisions current methods are old fashioned and clumsy.” (1998 p2) The creation of the internet allowed progression of education and entertainment with the addition of interaction. This gave everyone the ability to publish their own voice and brands the ability to market more effectively. David Merman Scott wrote in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR “The tremendous expense of relying on advertising to convince buyers to pay attention to your product is yesterday’s headache.” (2007 p29) Adverts on T.V are now an expected disruption and have reached the point where they are often ignored. Early internet advertising was very similar to T.V using static adverts for pop ups.

Fig.31 Family watching television (1958)

As the internet became more interactive and inclusive brands were able to communicate with consumers on a more personal level. Blogger collaborations and social media provided a prime platform to do this especially as a way of reaching the growing fashion and beauty online community.

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It was said in a fashion blogger and brand event held by Wall blog that “as long as bloggers don’t have to compromise their editorial style or personal vision for the blog, many are looking to monetise their loyal and increasingly valuable followers.” (Haviland 2013 online) In a range of interviews with fashion and beauty bloggers they all shared a similar view. They expressed that they liked the engagement with brands as it helped to grow their blog. However, several of them revealed that it could become a problem if bloggers began to change their style to fit the brands of who they promoted. This view was held by beauty blogger Lisa from Golden Glow who said “I think there is a negative stigma attached to promoting products, in such that you could be potentially lying to build connections with PR companies and get more products in the future.”( See Appendix 4) In another interview with beauty blogger Sandra Robinson from bbalm. blogspot she said “I simply adore PRs sending me samples but I do try to be honest and if I really don’t like something I will say so but not in a horrible way.” (See appendix 6)

Fig.32-33. Marie, L (2012) 30

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“Last year, two beauty bloggers endorsed a Nivea product on their YouTube videos. I reviewed that product recently and I was aghast at the quality of ingredients; one ingredient is used in tyres and another breaks down the layers of the skin. One of the bloggers has a keen interest in skincare, and I felt disappointed that she had put her name to something like this, when she usually promoted other brands and came across as very knowledgeable.� (See Appendix 7) She explains

In an online survey sent to fashion and beauty bloggers, it was asked if their incentives had changed or developed since starting their blog. 14 out of 30 bloggers answered yes, 8 stated that the reasons were that they were now working with brands or making it a career. However in a later question when the same female bloggers were asked directly if working with a brand had changed their incentives only 5 girls said it had. These contradictory answers from the bloggers may be due to them being proud to say that they make it a career and are often asked to work with brands but they do not want to declare that their blogs may have been changed by doing so. (Appendix 1) Even though the majority of blogs now state if a product has been sent and claim to always give an honest opinion, there is often no way of knowing for definite because the reviews reflect a personal opinion. Other bloggers and readers become suspicious when the reviews are out of character or if a certain brand is mentioned too often. Beauty and lifestyle blogger and follower Danielle Josephene from the blog Famous in Japan gave a prime example of how bloggers change their style in order to fit brands. (See right)

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In the book Naked Conversations, communication and marketing through blogs is analysed. It states that “our friends influence us more than any advertising or marketing campaign could ever dream of doing.� (Scoble and Israel 2006) This is why brands find promoting products through blogs so effective, as they are able to market the products to trusting followers who value their opinion. Advertising on blogs has become a popular marketing tool, with many fashion and beauty blogs offering a marketing package, selling advertising space on their site. Having advertisements at the start of videos on vlogs is also proving effective. A statistic by Econsultancy stated, “Branded video content reaches nearly half (46%) of all internet users in the UK. (theemotion.com online) As these advertising spaces have become sort after by huge brands, bloggers are able to charge huge amounts of money for them.

Fig.34. Sprinkle of Glitter advertising package (2014) 34

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“Generation Y is not only aware of being marketed to but has grown up in an environment full of brands and commercial media.” (Van der Bergh, Behrer 2011)

With this generation being so aware of marketing, they expect it on popular websites. The problem occurs when the marketing over takes the content. In a Blogher.com article Nomadic Chick denies that it causes a problem by claiming “a large number of bloggers cultivate their own brands, but quite often those personas spring from a genuine personality.” (2013) However in an interview with style blogger India Rose she explained that: “Some bloggers accept any promotional invitation, and their blog goes from a personal platform to share their own style to an online version of a magazine full of adverts...I have noticed more blogs are losing their transparency recently.” (See appendix 8) When blogs become known for their brand promotion people will begin to look elsewhere for unique and honest opinions.

Questioning

Awareness Test

Beginnings

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Prediction

To test whether the standard readers of fashion and beauty blogs were aware of brand manipulation, an online survey questioned 32 girls between the ages of 16 and 25, if they trusted product reviews on blogs. The results were fairly split with 17 answering yes, 3 answering no and 12 saying sometimes. The respondents who answered no and sometimes were then asked why they had questioned it, leading to two main responses. They either said that the reviews weren’t as trusted as a personal recommendation or stated that they thought most the products were reviewed had been sent to them for free. (See Appendix 9) This shows that although blogs are still trusted by a lot of readers their views are becoming distrusted as more people become aware of brand manipulation.

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“Sometimes you don’t know whether the blogger has been gifted, in which case the review is likely to not be very accurate.” “Most likely they have been sent a free product in exchange for a positive review” “Its not like a personal reccomendation from someone you know” (See Appendix 9)

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A successful company, which was set up through a strategic focus on bloggers is the Cambridge satchel company. The company which was founded in 2008 re positioned the vintage leather satchel as a must have trend piece. It was popularised among youth culture purely through effective blogger and digital campaigns. The company’s main strategy was to connect with fashion bloggers who then promoted the bags on their sites and influenced decisions on colours and style. Within just a few years the company grew to a huge £12 million turn over and now sell in 100 countries worldwide. The company’s use of blogger collaborations was so successful Google captured their journey in their 2012 advert. (See Appendix 10 for full case study) Fig.35 Kuruc,K. (2011) Fig.36 Cone, K. (2013) Fig.37 Valentine. (2012)

Cambridge Satchel Company 38

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Manipulation

As PR blogger campaigns have gained popularity, middle man companies have started to pop up. These companies manage social media talent and connect them with brands for collaborations. Two of the most well-known agency’s who do this are Gleam who manages most of the top YouTube talent and The Blogger Network which was set up by Etail PR. These companies have made brand and blogger connections a lot easier and have given the bloggers they represent a constant flow of brand content. Agency’s like the Blogger Program which started in October 2013 showed their effective methods of blogger PR through the company’s launch. They connected with top fashion and beauty bloggers to let them know about the new business by sending them personalised gift bags from a range of brands who were promoting. Many of the girls then blogged and posted video’s of their bags, effectively promoting the Blogger Program and the companies to the blog community.

Fig.38 Victoria (2013) Fig.39 Valentine, A. (2013) Fig.40 Anderson, H. (2013) 40

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Fig.38

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Fig.40

Blog Management

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Another popular way that brands are attracting social talent is blogger events. These social parties are an effective way of getting bloggers talking about brands without organising a specific PR campaign. An example of this was a blogger event for AX Paris organised by Etail PR in May 2013. “Hundreds of bloggers and press descended the Circus on Covent Garden to preview the advert before its launch and enjoyed an evening of amazing entertainment, cocktails and canapés.” (Etail PR online) In an interview with Alexandra Moerschner head of Digital PR and Marketing at AX Paris she explained that blogger events are “a good chance to meet new bloggers and it is a thank you to the ones we are alreadin partnership with.” She also described that blogger collaborations were “perfect vehicle” for brand exposure. (See appendix 11 ) The event was very successful with not only new bloggers connecting with the brand but many actually blogging about the event itself and the gift bags that they received. Rosie from Hards PR had a slightly different idea of using blogs for PR. She works on campaigns for the Marks & Spencer beauty range and other cosmetic care brands such as Sk:n. She expresses that due to a lot of the bloggers having quite a young demographic they are often not as effective for their consumers. She said that they have had blogger events where bloggers are invited to see new product launches and they have been a success. However she gave the example of where the young age of a lot of the bloggers became a problem. She said “An 18 year old giving a review on something that promises to get rid of lines and wrinkles is not only a waste of sample but it isn’t going to convince a middle aged mother (the target market) to go out and buy it.” (See Appendix 12) This shows that although PR blogger campaigns are popular they are not always right for a brand if they do not share the same consumer. 42

Questioning

Fig.42

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Fig.41

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Fig.41. Stirling,L. (2013) Fig.42. Temple, R. (2013) Fig.43. Stirling,L. (2013) fig44. Temple, R. (2013) 43


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As well as product reviews creative collaborations have also been an enormous trend to come out of blogger and brand relationships. Particularly over the last 5 years there has been a huge increase in the use of bloggers as the faces of collections such as Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast for Forever 21. Bloggers have also become the designers of particular product collections such as the blogger collection for MAC designed by a selected group of top beauty bloggers. The collaborations effectively increase the profiles of the bloggers whilst at the same time creating a powerful PR statement for the brand that uses them.

Key Chapter Points: •Brands use bloggers to reach their large amounts of trusting followers. •Promoted posts have a negative effect on blogs as follower’s begin to question the bloggers incentives. •Blogger collaborations have been successful for many brands but they only work if they increase the brands connection with the right consumer. 44

Prediction Fig.45.

Fig.47.

Fig.46.

Blogger collaborations are being seen as a necessity for marketing in the fashion and beauty industry and PR and Social Media managers are making it a priority for their clients. Brands are focusing on these strategies without analysing their true purpose and if it reflects the brand voice. As more bloggers become use to promoting brands their work is becoming predictable. In an interview with social media executive Hollie Brooks she said: “I think it’s down to brands now to see how they can up there game and do something more interesting than having bloggers front there latest photo shoot or sponsoring posts.” (2013. See Appendix 13)

Reaction

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Fig.45. Arthur, A (2013) Fig.46. Gehrke, P. (2011) Fig.47.Bekor, G. (2010) Fig48. Sinding, A,K. (2013) Fig 49. Chardon, J. (2014) 45


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“The Questioning” discusses society’s fickle views on blogs and bloggers, testing their current levels of authenticity and power.

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Manipulation

The growing saturation of fashion and beauty blogging has encouraged questions of their authenticity and longevity. As well the questioning of brand manipulation seen in the previous chapter there is also increasing questioning by professionals in the industry who have developed fickle relationships with bloggers. One of the most talked about issues is the increasing loss of creativity and individuality in blogging. With the increased amount of shared content within the fashion and beauty blogosphere comes the rising saturation of the same ideas. In a recent trend conference, Cynthia Lawrence of VOLT magazine expressed that she blames blog platforms like Tumblr for regurgitating images, saying it encourages people to copy, leading to a lack of uniqueness and creativity. (See appendix 14) The constant reposting of content shows that fashion and beauty bloggers are using blogging platforms less for self expression and more as an attempt to join the community with the statement of similar ideas. Kathrina Sand in her TED talk: Fashion is Identity, warns against crowd sourcing fashion, asking why someone would want to crowd source their own identity. (TED 2010) These opinions show the fear of the developing lack of hierarchy and creative expression within the online community. An acknowledgement also shown in an article on the Independent Fashion Blogger site stated “the field has become filled with too many bloggers who dress the same, share the same seasonal posts and runway reviews.� (Robinson 2013)

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The bloggers ability to democratise fashion has caused a dramatic split of opinion. This has been evident in the way bloggers are often treated at fashion week. Once bloggers became acknowledged in the industry many brands at fashion week took notice, positioning top bloggers on the front rows of their catwalks and expected positive coverage on their blogs in return.

Fig 51. Unknown (2010)

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Fig 50. Lovekin, S (2013)

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Fashion Week

Fig 52

A prime example of the professionals love/hate relationship at fashion week was when Tween blogger Tavi of Style Rookie attended the Dior Couture show in 2010. She was seated on the front row then treated to a tour around the Christian Dior head quarters. Tavi who was only 13 at the time, provided perfect publicity for Dior by wearing a huge Stephen Jones bow inspired by the show. However, her attention was not all positive. Other attendees questioned her right to be on the front row. One Grazia journalist showed his annoyance on Twitter posting a picture of his obstructed view, stating “At Dior. Not pleased to be watching couture through 13 year old Tavi’s hat!”( Grazia online 2010)

Fig 53

TAVI

Fig 52 Morgan, J (2010) Fig 53. Grazia (2010) Fig 54. Grazia (2010) 50

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Fig 55.

The manipulation of street style, particularly at fashion weeks, has become a live topic at events. As mentioned previously, the first official street style photography is often credited to Bill Cummingham for the New York Times, who captured the style on the streets of New York. Top bloggers like Scott Schuman popularised this style of photography by dedicating their blogs to it. Suzy Menkes questioned Scott Schuman and the bloggers who are often his main subjects, in her article “The circus of Fashion.” She wrote “This photographer of “real people” has spawned legions of imitators, just as the editors who dress for attention are now challenged by bloggers who dress for attention.”(2013 online) Menkes shows that she is not convinced and fully supportive of the bloggers and by using the word “imitators” questions their individuality and authenticity. This is partly due to their outfits at fashion week often being gifted by designers who use their attention to their benefit. In a New York Times article outlining this, Tom Julian, a fashion branding specialist is quoted calling the young female bloggers brand “Billboards.” The lack of exclusivity is also an issue centred round fashion week and is leading to questions on bloggers right to attend. It was expressed at the Online/Offline student trend conference by Ant Walker, a PR and Show Manager at various luxury brands that now anyone can go and walk around the tents at Summerset house, watch the live streamed shows then instantly publish their comments online. Bloggers are now often credited with democratising fashion but it is being increasingly questioned whether this has gone too far and is having a negative effect on fashion week. (See Appendix 14)

Fig 55. Fig 55. Lahmadi, K (2013) Fig 56. Yarhi, S (2013)

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Another area of questioning with blogs is their right to publish reviews. This task was originally done by style magazines or newspapers columns and written by professionals. Now “anyone with an opinion and access to the Internet can voice their thoughts.” (Kerby online) Bloggers originally claimed a non-biased outsider’s opinion but now they are widely used by brands professionals are questioning their value and purpose. This opinion was expressed by Suzie Menkes who claimed “with the aim now to receive trophy gifts and paid-for trips to the next round of shows, only the rarest of bloggers could be seen as a critic in its original meaning of a visual and cultural arbiter.” (Menkes online 2013) During an interview with Rosie from Hards PR she gives a different slant on the “subjective blogger vs. an objective journalist.” debate. She describes how magazine features are under a wider range manipulation than bloggers. She explains, “When a journalist writes a feature for a newspaper or magazine, he/she has to play by the rules of editors, publishers and other opinion-formers.” She explains that as most blogs are a hobby “media-savvy consumers look to them for their unfiltered honesty.” Even though Rosie is talking about general beauty blogger reviews she expresses the opinion that they are honest compared to magazines. She explains how PR companies are often nervous about bloggers freedom of speech. She said “If a beauty journalist doesn’t like a product then (more often than not) they won’t give it any column inches, but if a beauty blogger doesn’t like a product then they will just give it a bad review.”Although bloggers personal reviews are tricky for PR companies to control it’s what makes blog reviews trusted by their readers. (See Appendix 12) Fig 57 inStyle Magazine (2013) Fig 58-59 Burr, T. (2013) 54

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“No magazine website or blog has ever been able to come close to the success of the best beauty blogs despite pumping huge money and resources online.” (Asling online 2011)

Although the questioning of who should be trusted for reviews is continuously swayed, magazine sales are showing a significant declining. This could be due to the easy accessibility of content through blogs and other digital platforms. Magazines are very wary of bloggers ability to take their readers. In an attempt to use bloggers to their advantage many have aimed to include them in their features like Look magazines blogger style pages or even let top bloggers join their teams such as Suzie Bubble for Dazed and Confused.

Key Points: • Professionals are noticing a lack of creativity and originality in blogs and it is weakening their credibility. • Bloggers are becoming more unwelcome at fashion weeks due to the loss of authentic street style and the overall lack of exclusivity developing at the events. • Blogs are having their credibility and affectivity compared against professional journalists. 56

Fig 60. Company Magazine (2013) 57


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“The Reaction� analyses how a range of different brands have responded to blogging trends and developments.

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Brand Blogs

As the use of bloggers is questioned and blogger PR strategy’s becoming predictable brands have decided to focus on more innovative ways of creating positive engagement on social and digital media.

Many brands have set up their own brand blogs but with a lack of creative content these have failed to receive the same attention as individual fashion and beauty blogs. Hollie Brooks, a social media executive explained “I think the consumer is always aware that brand blogs are going to be biased... they will link back to their products in hope that you’ll buy them.”(See Appendix 13) As well as a strong bias, Brooks claimed that brand blogs also lack in “Innovation and Consistency,” However what a lot of fashion and beauty brands have been successful in doing is creating a consumer community through their digital and social content. “Dialogues with a company via social media reassure consumers that the company has a responsive voice and that the consumers’ opinions are valued.”(Mintel 2011)

“They are all just jumping on the new social media fad and everyone else is following.” (Hollie Brooks. 2013 See appendix 13)

Fig 61- 65 Topshop Social Media (2013) 60

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One of the first fashion brands to create an innovative digital campaign was Burberry in 2009. They used the popular trend of street style blogs and combined it with a way to directly engage the consumer, creating “Art of the Trench.” The site worked like a huge look book using images taken from around the world, by street style photographers including Scott Schuman, of consumers in their famous trench coats. The site also enabled users to submit their own images. “The mandate was simple: to develop a campaign that would innovative and would engage younger consumers.” (Grieve, Idiculla, Tobias. Online 2013) In the year after the launch the evidence was clear that they had succeeded with “Burberry’s Facebook fan base grew to more than a million, the largest fan count in the luxury sector at the time.”(See appendix 15)Through regular communication through their platforms they still have a steady increase of 1000 social media followers a week.

Questioning

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#Primania is for our customers to show off their most loved Primark purchases as well as their personal style #PrimarkTweets

Primark did a similar thing in October 2013, developing a joining site called Primania at the same time as they launched their Twitter account. In a short online interview Primark was asked “Do you think getting consumers to show off their purchases works better than getting bloggers to promote the brand.” They sent an unbiased statement back claiming that they are “endlessly fascinated with both bloggers and our consumers in general. They act as ambassadors for our brand.” (See Appendix 16.1) Through analysis of their social media statistics at the time of the launch it shows, it wasn’t as strong as the Burberry launch. Athough fans grew at the time of the launch; a steep decline of new fans has since followed. (See Appendix 16) Fig. 66-68 Schuman, S (2013) 62

Fig. 69 Primania (2014) 63


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This was not due to a lack of consistency with their new social media accounts, as they are still updated daily. This was due to the idea not being right for the brand. Art of the Trench worked for Burberry because the classic trench was a trademark for the brand and the site marked the repositioning of Burberry, showing their new focus on innovation and technology. The images on Art of the Trench were also of a high quality and similar style so they still don’t look dated. The problem with Primania is that the company focuses on extreme fast fashion, so the maintaining of relevant images is a lot more time consuming. They also purely rely on consumer generated content so the images when put together don’t have the same aesthetic appeal as Art of the Trench. By Primark doing a very similar thing on a much smaller scale four years later it is evident that brands are struggling to find innovative ways to connect with consumers. In a set of interviews with girls who have uploaded a video to Primania some expressed doubts of how effective is actually was. (See Appendix 16.2)

There has also been a recent reaction to the debate on journalism and blogging, through a print magazine called Blogosphere. The magazine which has the tag line “written for bloggers, about bloggers” and contains short editorial sections on popular blogs and subjects, currently in the blogoshere, about fashion, beauty, food and lifestyle. The magazine exposed the potential of the blogging community and used them for blog style features and interviews. As the magazine is so supportive of bloggers it has received some very positive reviews and promotion within the blogosphere itself, effectively marketing the magazine to its target audience. Fig. 70 Mitchel, D (2013) 64

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As explained in the previous chapter, the issue of the blogger at fashion week has also generated lots of debate and split professional opinion. This has however not deferred the fashion bloggers as there has been a “rise in applications of 25% season on season” (British Fashion Council online 2013) In a reaction to this the British Fashion Council are setting up a strategy for 2014 where only a range of selected top fashion bloggers will be invited. This seems to be the first way of trying to claim back some of the exclusivity of fashion week and is the first real strategy which pulls professionals in the industry and bloggers apart.

Key Points: • Brand blogs are effective for creating a consumer community but often lack creative content. • User generated content sites created by brands only work if they are suited to the brand and hold a specific purpose. • The exclusivity of fashion week is beginning to be restored and bloggers are becoming more unwelcome. 66

Fig. 71 Unknown (2013) 67


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“The Prediction� explores new advancing technology and innovations which will effect digital communications. This will lead to the forecast of possible future outcomes.

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So what is next in the cycle of trust? As seen in the previous sections of research and analysis it is concluded that fashion and beauty blogging is coming under an increasing amount of questioning by industry professionals, bloggers and readers. A clear split has developed in terms of what these different people want from blogs, be it true creativity, honest opinions or effective marketing opportunities. As there is not a clear mutual focus for bloggers, brands and followers alike, the next step is certainly unsteady.

Fig. 72-73 Unknown (2010) 70

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One thing which will have a huge impact on the future of blogging is innovative technology. The ongoing development of mobile technology is allowing people to have the ability to be connected outside of their office computer. In an online survey of 32 girls aged 16 to 25, 100% said that they accessed social media sites through their smart phone (See Appendix 8). The popularity of mobile technology has resulted in people wanting information quicker and easier to see on the go, supporting the rise in image based content.

“South Korea is one of the most connected nations in the world with high broadband rates and a tech savvy population.” (Digital Jungle, 2012 online) They have been forward thinking in their reaction to a developing mobile lifestyle by introducing free wifi points in public places in and around the capital of Seoul. They are looking to extend the service nationwide by 2017. It also has the fastest internet speed in the world. These facts are directly related to South Koreas popularity of blogging. According to a presentation by Digital Jungle, “South Korea is home to one of the largest blogging communities in the world, second only to China.”(2012) They also have a larger range of social media platforms, the most popular being Cyworld which is more popular there than Facebook. With the world becoming a place of increased reliance on mobile technology, other places will surely follow South Korea’s example and offer public wifi. This will then result in an even more connected and digitally accessible world. Fig. 74 Sipa Press (2010) 72

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Dramatic innovations in mobile technology are on the horizon over the next 5 years. Technology such as Google Glass is currently being tested for use in the near future. Alongside smart phones such as Samsungs Galaxy Gear, it will most defiantly make the future even more mobile, as the main focus is that the products fit to the user’s lifestyle. This will free user’s hands from devices whilst maintaining a continuous digital and social connection. In terms of blogging this has both benefits and negatives. On the plus side, as well as people being continuously connected, products like Google Glass are design to assist users with a huge range of tasks within an instant. Reactions to constant and easy availability of technology will also increase the use and range of social media. On the downside, traditional word content on blogs will become an inconvenience, as digital screens become smaller, people will prefer to look to the internet for quick visual content. Also more people are multi tasking and using mobile technology for internet access, so there will be less focus on sitting down and reading a blog. As many bloggers have already stretched themselves across a range of digital and social platforms it seems that the fast, visual and mobile future has begun to form. As fashion and beauty is being increasingly democratised by new innovations in technology such as live streaming fashion shows, the people who are interested in the industry will be encouraged to get involved online. This, alongside greater mobile technology will allow more people to voice their opinion without the need to host a fully functional blog. Fig. 75-76 Design Boom (2013) 74

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New Blog + Followers

At the moment the main thing jeopardizing the future of fashion and beauty blogging is brand manipulation. Brands want more and more from bloggers but without new ideas, collaborations are becoming dated. They are also having a negative effect on how the readers are seeing blogs, as their initial intentions of authentic creative expression are replaced by adverts and promotions. This is due to the temptation of a perfect lifestyle offered by brands. When blogs loose their creative and truthful content that follower’s desire, they will begin to lose popularity. Without trusting followers, blogs will become less appealing for brand collaboration and they will begin to move on to the next big marketing trend. This lack of support from the industry will make more professionals question blogging and defer bloggers who were in it for money and industry exposure.

Blog + Followers = Brands

Brands = Loss of Trust

Loss of Trust = Loss of Followers

Loss of Followers = Loss of Brands

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If the influence of brands is taken away, it leaves blogging at a similar place it was in the beginning: a place for personal expression and communication. The decline will mean that there is no real money or other perks made from blogging. This will reveal those bloggers that possess an original voice within the industry and commitment to their interest. At the same time it will expose those bloggers who lack creativity and have focused on brand promotions for their main content. It will also mean that full time bloggers who earn a living from their blogs will not be able to commit as much time. If brand influence and support starts to decline there will be less of a focus on blogs being written for mass followers. There will be less need for blogs to have a huge following as there won’t be any benefit to credited and popular bloggers. To stay relevant bloggers will need to start to consider what makes their blog different and how their blogs benefit them personally. If the blogger lacks unique ideas but has made some close relationships through the blogosphere community, then the blog may be stronger if wrote by a group of people.

78

Questioning

#fbloggers

Beginnings

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Prediction

As the blogging community has already begun spreading to other digital and social platforms such as twitter and YouTube, the definition of blogging is taking new forms. As the fashion and beauty industry is trend focused, the followers are quick to join new popular platforms. The friendships and connections which have grown in the blogosphere are extremely important to many bloggers. This is clearly evident on social media platforms where members of the community link regularly through a range of hash tags such as ‘#fbloggers’. The friendship aspect will become more important if there is a decrease in the influence of brands. Blogs will resort back to personal opinions so will require more support from the community. The online fashion and beauty community will also open up to non bloggers who don’t already have a huge following.

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The first recommendation for is for a digital, consumer generated network for supporting bloggers. The platform, which could be in the form of an app or mobile website, would have the aim of supporting collaborations between bloggers and building stronger content. The platform would be specifically for fashion and beauty bloggers and would be accessible worldwide. The platform would give bloggers the opportunity to connect and combine their skills and opinions. The platform would support the bloggers and take the pressure off creating full blog content individually. It would also give non established bloggers the chance to contribute to projects and start their own blogs, with the support of a network. The bloggers would register their blog onto the site then start to connect with other bloggers and grow their network of collaborators. Blog collaborations would link bloggers together and send traffic to each other’s sites, boosting their audience. Collaborations could create content to be shared by the bloggers involved or work on a specific project for one. Bloggers could team up with other bloggers who have opposite skills, for example writers teaming up with image makers. They could also combine thoughts, either mutual to give more substance to their opinions or opposite to show another point of view. This would lead to more creative and stronger content. Opportunities and inspiration could also be shared across different cultures leading to more diverse content. The platform would help individual bloggers gain a network for projects and support the friendships made in the blogosphere.

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“I think one of the most rewarding things about being a blogger is the fact that you are then part of a whole new blogging community, where tips, photos and outfits are shared, inspiration can be found and friends can be made.�

(Dixon online 2013)

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In 2011 Scarlett Dixon set up Scarlett London a fashion and showbiz blog/online magazine with a growing list of contributors. She fully supports the idea of collaborative blogging and claimed in an interview that “there is such a sound, friendly blogging community and to be able to expand this globally would be fantastic.” She also explained that “many blogs are adopting the idea of having many different authors, firstly because it takes the pressure off an individual to post and similarly, it broadens the content.” (See Appendix 17) The collabourtion trend has also become popular among vloggers. Partnerships like Zoe from Zoella and Sprinkle of Glitter regularly feature on each others videos and as a reslut share their popularity.

Questioning

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The idea of online communities making content together has been a more recent update on Pinterest. Boards can now be done collectively by communities of friends or by consumers of brands. It is also the focus on collaborative writing platform Medium.com where writers submit written pieces on a diverse range of topics. Medium is a new site which was created by Evan Williams, who helped create Twitter and Blogger. He explains that “At the heart of Medium is the idea that people create better things together.” (Williams 2013 online) Both Pinterest and Medium are prime examples of the way that digital platforms and self expression is developing. As well as using the trend of collaboration, they both focus on being easy for users, with content readable across different technology. Instead of being a platform to host collaborations, the recommended network app or mobile site would be a tool to support blogs. The users would be able to search and advertise for compatible collaborators and recommend each other. This developing trend of collaboration would be supported by the recommended network and would help expand opportunities, specifically to the fashion and beauty blogger community. The stronger and more creative content, developed from the collaborations, will help to restore the bloggers credibility within the industry and make reading blogs more exciting for followers.

Fig. 77 Youtube. (2013) 82

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“The ado of crafting messages, pushing them upon targets, and propagating them every and any way possible while attempting to control your story is not only the old way, it’s the very thinking that’s held marketing back for decades.” (Solis 2013 online) Even though in Solis’s post he is talking about marketing across all platforms it is particularly relevant to blog marketing. It is advised that brands stop pushing their products through popular blogs, when they cannot control how they are being written about and who the message is actually reaching. Brands need to focus on more effective and authentic ways of communicating to their consumers.

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Community

It is for the benefit of brands to begin to analyse if their original intentions of their blogger strategies are being met. Blogs were seen as an authentic voice of the consumer but many are beginning to sound more like brand ambassadors.

Reaction

Prediction

The first brand recommendation is to make use of the large online communities of bloggers and people interested in their industry and view them as large consumer profiles, rather than just platforms to promote on. The constant analysis of these public communities would become valuable market research and clear understandings of consumer and product trends would be met. By doing this, products could be designed specifically for consumers and in turn would become the products that the community choose to buy and talk about, through blogs or social media.

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The second brand recommendation is for brands to start to link their social media platforms with their ecommerce sites in a more effective way. At the moment both bloggers and consumers continuously create content for brands for social media and often tag them in, however apart from occasionally being used by brands for their own social media content, it is not being utilised to directly sell products.

“This is about putting the public back in public relations and social in social media�

Questioning

This would show direct authentic promotion, right at the point when consumers are looking to buy a product. As the ecommerce sites are run by the brand they will have the ability to control which content is used, removing the risk of negative consumer reviews on their site. Consumers will be encouraged to do this if their content was linked back to their blogs or social media accounts. This would give an incentive for the consumer, as traffic from the brand sites would be linked back to their personal accounts, increasing their followers. Brands could also display a constant stream of brand hauls on their website to show their most featured products. 86

Prediction

This strategy could also work the other way round if linked to a certain social media account like Twitter. When consumers purchase a product or save it to a wish list that product could be posted to their twitter page with a thank you message from the brand. This would show followers of that consumer what they had purchased and where from: creating a direct link for anyone keen to purchase that item. It would also further the path of the consumer decision journey, by maintaining communication to the consumer after they had purchased.

(Solis 2013 onine)

The majority of brands ecommerce sites have little to no consumer generated content even through many have review sections. These reviews are required by the consumer after they have purchased and offer no incentive, so they are often ignored. If brands were to use the consumer generated content linked to them over social media sites or uploaded to blogs, they could fill the review sections with a range of authentic consumer and blogger reviews and further images of the product.

Reaction

Consider Evaluate

Bond

Loyalty Loop Buy

Advocate Enjoy

Based on Edelman’s consumer decision journey model. 87


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Online retail brands such as MissGuided would benefit from this strategy. Their use of bloggers in the past have showed their understanding of how product reviews and images make a big impact on consumers especially when they can’t see the product in person before they purchase. Their consumers already use links back to the brand on social media sites like Twitter but the brand don’t encourage them to do so or use the comments in an effective way. They also don’t have any user generated reviews or images on their website so all the consumers have to persuade them to purchase is a standard model image and product details. (See Appendix 18)

Questioning

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Prediction

Fig. 79

Fig. 78

This user generated content strategy would give more product incite to the consumer at the point where they are considering purchasing. When 10 consumers of Miss Guided were asked if they had ever been put off buying a product because they were not sure on quality and fit 9/10 answered yes. They were also asked if reading a review or seeing the product on a real person would help their decision 9/10 answered yes. (See Appendix 19) This proves that it would help and encourage consumers whilst they were browsing products as they would be able to see user images and reviews. If content showed popular bloggers wearing the product it would show the consumer that they too could achieve the look, which was admired by the bloggers followers. Instead of a follower seeing an outfit post they liked and skimming past to see other content, it would allow the follower to purchase the product immediately, creating a faster and more effective consumer decision journey.

Fig. 80

Fig. 81

Fig. 78 Valentine (2013) Fig. 79-80 MissGuided (2014) Fig. 81 Lim-Walker (2013) 88

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To Conclude

For blogging to survive through the next 5 years it needs to become more innovative. As blogger strategies are becoming standard content on blogs, brands will need to begin to think outside of regular gifted reviews and start to use blog content in more effective strategies. Brands and bloggers will need to view the blogosphere as a wide set of digital platforms and begin to widen their reach. Whilst the actual idea of blogging has only been around for the last 20 years, it has shown fast developments. Bloggers will need to be aware of this quick and constant blog evolution and be prepared to adapt their content accordingly. Although corporate brand strategies will take time to develop, blogs have the ability to increase their originality now. If bloggers act now and start to bring back their creative and authentic voices, by the time brands are looking to revive their digital presence, blogs will be an exciting and effective tool to do so once more.

Fig. 82 Net-A-Porter (2013) 90

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