Last night I attended an Online Influencers Panel discussion forum organised and run by Networx Sydney held at the stylish and chic Kit & Kaboodle in Kings Cross. I was in fact one of the guest panelists and had a grand time addressing importantce which social media plays in the here and now, what makes an online influencer, how you can build and expand your brand through social media tools and how you should approach bloggers for campaigns or projects.
I met with some amazing faces from newspapers and PR agencies and had a fabulous time on the panel. Thank you to Networx Sydney for inviting me and Double Edged PR for organising and mediating the event!
THE PANELISTS (above): Natasha Hanckel-Spice (Digital Analyst, Ogilvy PR's 360 Digital Influence Team), Brenda Gaddi (Founder of Aussie Mummy Bloggers community, Aussie Bloggers Conference and Mummytime blogger) and me in the middle.
I thought I would share with you a few points which I addressed at the panel last night.
What do you think makes someone and online opinion leader or influencer?
I think an online influencer is someone who not only has a strong and solid readership base but there also should be a large amount of communication and interaction between the influencer and his/her readers.
Do you think it works when brands blog / tweet / facebook & produce their own online content? Can you share some examples of the good/bad?
I think brands having a facebook page and/or a twitter account is essential in this day and age. To be honest it is one of the first things I look for when searching for more information about a particular label or brand. However if you decide to create a facebook fan page and/or twitter account you must take responsibility and maintain your accounts. What I mean by this is to respond to any queries or questions asked to you on the accounts, regularly update – so say you are a shoe brand, post up behind the scenes images of your next campaign or hold a competition over these social media accounts, or just be sure you’re answering any queries which are being posted or directed at you. Plus it shows that your brand is living in the here and now and is aware of the importance and necessity of having a twitter or facebook or even a blog. It makes your brand look less daunting and more like one of the normal people providing a more relatable, one on one experience.
Blogging/online/etc has become such a competitive medium, what are some attributes that can separate one blog from the others?
I think because there are so many blogs, online publications and businesses online that there is a fierce competitiveness evident within the world wide web and as a result there is a strong and essential need for your brand be it fashion label, local business or blog to be unique in every aspect of its inception. So what I mean by this is in particular have a clean, practical yet navigational website, have original content, and there needs to be a impeccable level of customer service, in my case I always will respond to reader comments especially if they are asking me a question through a comment on my blog. I pride myself on the ease of access that my readers have to contact me: I’m on twitter, facebook, formspring, email is available.
Do believe there is a higher level of risk towards a brand’s image when social media is utilised? How can brands minimise this risk? (eg. When negative comments towards a brand are posted on Twitter, which can instantly be read by hundreds of followers).
I don’t necessarily believe there is a higher level of risk involved for a brand’s image when social media is utilised rather it can be used to improve your brand’s image. In the case of negative comments towards a brand being posted on facebook or twitter where it can instantly be read by millions around the globe, I suggest you solve the problem that they are complaining about. For instance I saw a similar thing happen on the Mimco facebook page, they strategically solved the problem at hand and as a result the person originally complaining was left happy and the rest of the world could see the result of how Mimco handled the situation.
So it is definitely a tool which you can utilise to your advantage, turn a negative into a positive. Regardless if you're online to mediate the issue at hand, your client base will be online talking with or without you - its up to you are a brand to make a choice whether you wish to provide your imput and project your brands' image into the online sphere.
What programs do you use to monitor feedback for your blog?
I utilise a number of statistic counters to monitor feedback on my blog: Google Analytics which is compatible with my blogging platform Typepad and works in sync with my blog, showing the statistics on my dashboard (or a more comprehensive run down when I log into Google Analytics). I think if you’re after a comprehensive and more accurate feedback of blog statistics it is wise to use at least 2 different counters. Even with the three I use, the stats aren’t all the same but it gives me a general idea of how my blog is doing.
What is your prediction for where social media is headed within the next 12 months? (eg. are there any particular applications, tools or social groups to look out for?)
I think social media will just keep growing stronger and stronger. For instance take a look at what Twitter has accomplished since its creation in March 2006, Twitter has gained popularity worldwide and is estimated to have 190 million users, generating 65 million tweets a day and handling over 800,000 search queries per day. The company experienced rapid growth. It had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007. This grew to 100 million tweets posted per quarter in 2008. In February 2010, Twitter users were sending 50 million tweets per day. By March 2010, the company recorded over 70,000 registered applications. As of June 2010, about 65 million tweets were posted each day, equaling about 750 tweets sent each second.
It is definitely not a tool to quickly dismiss, I guess my prediction is that it will not be disappearing and will definitely be growing more in the next couple of years. It will probably be a more prominent tool for every business and should be utilised.
You were awarded ‘Best Fashion Blog’ in the 2threads Annual Fashion Awards in 2010. How was your blog discovered, and what do you think makes it stand out from others?
I’ve worked extremely hard on my blog in the last year, from usually writing posts once every fortnight or week I’ve managed to write blog posts once every 2 or 3 days. I guess just networking and putting my blog out there into the community by attending events and being present on the online community has been extremely important for building my blog’s reputation. For the 2threads Annual Fashion Awards, to be a candidate of the awards, you just need someone to nominate you and I guess I was thankful enough to have friends and readers who did nominate me and voted resulting in me winning that award.
My blog is unique as although you can see my daily outfits (well occasional outfits), Little Black Book is also a great place to go to if you wish to find out what sales are on in Sydney and I also love writing about emerging talented designers from Australia and you’ll find comprehensive runway reviews both international and local Australian – so I guess it is a great fashion blog that covers almost every aspect of the fashion industry, I even post up behind the scenes images of any shoots I’ve worked on.
What has your experience working with PRs and Marketers been like? Please share examples of the good and the bad!
I have had mostly good experiences working with PR agencies and Marketers. I guess a starter would be addressing an email with my name not with a generic ‘I hope you are well’ or ‘Dear Editor’. I once had a PR agency who for some strange reason had my details down as someone completely different and as such they would send me emails which started as ‘Dear Karen’. As you can imagine, I was almost immediately turned off from that agency and thankfully they’ve amended that database issue. It is essential to research and be aware of who you are contacting, try not to send generic emails which start with 'hope you are well' or 'Hi there!'. I guess seeing that you at least know my name (and spelling it correctly) will make the receiver of the email more inclined to continuing reading the email and ultimately have a higher chance of accepting the proposed campaign.
You’ve been invited to attend high profile fashion events like Rosemount Australian Fashion Week in 2009 and 2010. What role do you think bloggers/tweeters/vloggers etc. have in the fashion industry compared to traditional media (eg. monthly fashion magazines, newspaper fashion editors, TV news)?
Not wanting to start another bloggers vs editors ‘war’… but I strongly believe that the online community especially fashion bloggers will continue to grow their status as official media and there is already a minority within traditional media who can see the amount of influence and the important role which bloggers now hold in todays’ age where we are practically living on our computers and being online. Because the internet is in our homes, at our desks at work and on our mobiles, it isn’t something you can really escape and this allows easy accessibility in turn resulting in almost live blogging or tweeting ‘reporting’. Many monthly fashion magazines and newspapers have in fact jumped on the band wagon so to speak and have their own social media accounts.
How do you think the fashion blogging community compares to other blogging communities?
I think the fashion blogging community has grown into its own distinctive niche over the last couple of years; there are countless fashion blogging directories and forums which shows the strength of the fashion blogging industry – we are all just like one big family, we support each other whether we’ve only just met or have never met and only have an online relationship. I love the strange yet wonderful ability of instantly clicking with another fashion blogger, I haven’t met one where I haven’t been able to be friends or have a great time with, it doesn’t matter if I’ve never read their blog or haven’t ever spoken to them prior to meeting them in person. There is a strong sense of family within the fashion blogging community which I think is completely different when compared to other blogging communities. The fashion blogging community has been thrusted into the limelight these past couple of years and I guess we’ve all had to supported each other in the changes that have occurred (like the code that was passed where bloggers in the US now have to state whether they were given something for free in return for a blog post or the infamous bloggers vs editors debate to name a few).