Every brand needs a little push once in a while to make things happen.
In the fashion industry, influence is one of the most important things you can implement to increase customer engagement and skyrocket your sales. It’s something you see happening every day in the fashion community: key individuals talking about brands and taking their names to the next level.
Who are these key individuals?
A decade ago, you’d think of partnering with a celebrity to garner attention and get some “halo” credibility for your brand. Today, the biggest voice in fashion could be your next door neighbor.
Here’s the kicker: You don’t have to make Jennifer Aniston or Emma Watson sit in the front row of fashion weeks to make a mark in the world of fashion anymore. Nowadays, “regular” people with good knowledge about the industry and your label can become the poster boys and girls of your brand.
That’s because there is an escalating trend for designers (at all levels) to let fashion bloggers lead the way.
That’s actually smart! The largest segment of the blogosphere today consists of blogs that focus on street style, casual style, fashion brands, and fashion products. Blog Ambitions did a little research and found that fashion blogs lead the way when it comes to the types of blogs searched for on Google, receiving 40,500 average number of monthly searches. Several bloggers have developed authentic relationships with their audiences because for the audience, bloggers talk and look more like everyday people.
Additionally, fashion blogging has improved dramatically with new developments, making it a cost-effective and compelling investment compared to the costly world of celebrity endorsements. For instance, live footage at runaway shows used to be unthinkable for the common blogger; now, they can share the footage in real time via Snapchat, Instagram, and other channels as it is happening. These are few reasons why blogger outreach campaigns are so hot these days.
How bloggers dethroned celebrities
Have you ever wondered why fashion bloggers have significantly higher levels of engagement than fashion celebrities? One underlying factor is that bloggers are more approachable which makes it easy for the audience to resonate with them. Then there’s also the trust factor; bloggers talk to their audience in a way as if they are their friends, and being trusted is what gives them the power to influence.
Fast Company reported that a number of fashion bloggers have signed deals with popular brands as a result of their overall influence and content marketing skills. Bloggers add value because they discover, compare, evaluate and introduce products to the audience. They also demonstrate how the brand’s offerings can be used to achieve a particular look.
Another research from market research and intelligence agency, Mintel, revealed that as many as 70 percent of blog, vlog (blogs that publish video-based content) and social media users access beauty content on the web, but less than 1 in 10 (8 percent) people are interested in seeing images of celebrities endorsing beauty products. On the other hand, 1 in 6 (17 percent) have bought products based on a vlogger’s or blogger’s recommendation or opinion.
Also, Oracle’s research revealed that marketing messaging involving celebrity and athlete endorsements resonate the least with consumers.
To see why fashion bloggers are the amplifiers of a brand’s voice, let us consider an example. Masha Sedgwick, a fashion blogger based in Germany, creates compelling content by mixing Gothic with grunge, rather than reporting on recent trends like other bloggers do. Her style is a combination of classic but edgy basics, and she’s inspired by street styles and bloggers covering this fashion niche.
While her name is not as popular as the likes of Chiara Ferragni (The Blonde Salad), her work is authentic and natural. While a majority of her images come from professional photo shoots with pre-planned details, the selfies posted on her blog and social media profiles show her outfits and accessories in a more natural way. This enables viewers to resonate to her as a person.
Even as a small-scale influencer, she’s managed to catch the eye of Chanel, Mango, Dior, and Jimmy Choo amongst others. Here’s an image of her wearing Jimmy Choo shoes:
She shows chic possibilities of pairing expensive outfits with less expensive accessories, and vice versa. Masha doesn’t cover lengths in text content, but always speaks in a personal tone, which is what readers find interesting in her content.
Celebrities on the other hand are paid to wear outfits and accessories, and don’t really endorse a brand in a personal tone. The maximum they do is mention what they’re wearing on the red carpet, and rest of the job is done by PR agencies (and bloggers).
The case for long-tail fashion influencers
Masha Sedgwick’s success shows that an effective fashion influencer doesn’t have to be someone with a huge following. What’s more important to consider is their relationship with audiences and subject matter expertise. Having a small following that takes instant action, spreads the word, and engages on a day-by-day basis is more valuable than having a large number of followers who barely notice the content.
Long-tail bloggers are often found in the “magic middle” of the attention curve. For niche product launches, they can be more effective than other bloggers because they can provide the best coverage and create a buzz before and after the show, with Instagram videos and live tweets for their loyal following to share and engage with. Our generation won’t identify with models and mannequins as deeply as it would with these people, because they stand the same ground as us.
Mid-tier fashion bloggers may not have a million followers, but their organic conversations drive new ideas and allow them to gain followers quickly. They may have a smaller reach, but they can be the perfect brand champions for big brands trying to promote specific products or smaller brands with tighter budgets.
Also, these bloggers are open to sharing content more often compared to the top-tier ones, and will incorporate their enthusiasm if they love your brand. On the other hand, bloggers who’ve now achieved the “celebrity status” can make a huge impact in reach, but they’re also expensive to partner with and most of them are already collaborating with several big brands. Moreover, the most popular blogger, just like a celebrity, may not be the best choice to depict your brand’s personality.
An interesting case is of plus-size fashion influencers. In general, there is a significant tension between realistic and idealistic perceptions about body image and these influencers are providing a positive outlook that is liberating every women around the globe. Whether creating original content online via social channels or appearing themselves alongside svelte models on the runaway, these plus-size fashion influencers are taking the fashion industry by storm.
And they’ve managed to attract the attention of big brands who’re interested in examining the impact of their influence. Many plus-size fashion influencers are branching out into bigger collaborations. Jennie Runk, a plus-size model from New York, is an ideal example. She’s a big part of campaigns that tell women to stop obsessing about size. Her blogging prowess can be seen on the content she creates on social channels, and this has enabled her to gain a decent following in the plus-size niche.
She has collaborated with H&M, appearing in the brand’s beachwear campaign that received a lot of publicity and made her an advocate of plus-size fashion. Since then, she’s been educating people about plus-size fashion, stating that clothing companies categorize women into different size categories to ensure customers can find exactly what they’re after, making it easier for people of all sizes to stay fashionable in clothes that depict their own unique style as well as provide comfort to their bodies.
Jennie Runk’s appearance and persona makes her an ideal candidate to be the face of any brand selling plus-size clothing. On the other hand, someone like Khloe Kardashian may come off as too bias for the audience, and brands would also be spending a lot of money to sign her for being their brand advocate. If you’re looking to convert your target audience into customers, the smaller influencer is likely to have a better impact, given that the audience is really enthusiastic about the category.
Finding the right fit
There are so many options that finding the right blogger to represent/endorse your brand can be a tricky endeavor. Forbes recommends taking this formula into account when searching for an influencer:
Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers
The equation indicates that it doesn’t make sense to hire someone with a large number of Instagram followers, or even a large number of highly active Instagram followers, if that person doesn’t have the credibility or expertise relevant to your target audience. They’re never going to be a good choice for your brand.
So finding the right blogger to influence your target audience is not just about connecting with the most famous person who you think might relate to your audience. That said, there are simple ways of finding the right fit, such as the following:
1. Use hashtags for research
Hashtags can provide insights into the interests of millions of social media users. They can be used to see which bloggers are attracting the audience in your niche. For instance, the hashtag #plussizefashion can be used to discover blog entries and social media posts related to this niche, and searching across similar terms will give you the ability to narrow down your influencer search. You can find experts in the topics you care about.
2. Review the blogger’s authenticity
While seemingly counter intuitive to say, bloggers with a low rate of sponsored content tend to come off as more authentic and trusted. Personal stories that include genuine mentions of a brand or product has the greatest influence on audience while making sure that the content doesn’t depart from the blogger’s regular line of storytelling (the audience can react in a negative way when there’s sudden deviation from normal talk, as can be seen in the case of celebrities).
3. Take help of a platform
Buzzoole and other automation platforms can help you find the right influencer for your brand. By analyzing your brand’s personality and existing content, these platforms generate a profile of influencers who can help to better target your campaigns. With algorithms, influencer marketing automation can optimize your digital activity and connect you with the right people interesting in promoting your brand in an authentic manner. Fashion brands can engage influencers in a fully automated way by inviting them to exclusive events or providing them special offers.
When you think about cooperating with bloggers, you need to first consider your brand. Who is your target audience and what are they interested in? Are you targeting the mother who loves fashion and spends her days designing outfits that accommodate her baby bump? The woman who buys the trending plus size outfits in search of a great Instagram picture? Or the girl who experiments with frugal outfits to see if she can still make a style statement?
It is all about your target. When you have that at hand, you can follow the strategies mentioned above to find the right blogger who will influence your audience through authentic, funny, useful, and inspiring content. The right fit will sell the experience rather than your brand.Fabrizio Perrone
Fabrizio is the CEO and Founder of Buzzoole. A serial digital entrepreneur, he is visionary, dynamic, a perfectionist, tech passionate, a social media expert and an Influencer Marketing Pioneer. You can get in touch with him at @fabrlzio