Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Blogger Engagement 101 – A Morning with Mulberry

With the rise of social media, there’s been an emergence of a new category of celebrity, also known as ‘bloggers’, or better yet, ‘digital influencers’. Part of what has made blogging such a success story is that there is a sense of authenticity that surrounds reading content written by someone who is genuinely passionate about the topic of conversation (whether it’s fashion, beauty, food or any other subject), and has a unique point of view to share. A space that was originally filled by magazines and traditional print media, blogging has provided a platform for individuals seeking to share personal experiences in a much less formal manner; not unlike how you would share a story with a close friend.

With fan followings that often surpass ‘offline’ celebrities, it was inevitable that brands would want to collaborate with bloggers, and co-create branded content. Although there isn’t a formula for curating the perfect blogger collaboration, there are a few things brands need to be aware of, and keep in mind when deciding to engage with bloggers.

The most commonly made mistake by brands is in selecting the wrong blogger to collaborate with. Although it may be tempting to work with someone with a large fan-following of their own, if the ethos of the blogger’s brand doesn’t match that of your own business, then it often results in content that reads as very contrived. Without naming names, this often occurs when brands pay bloggers to review products from a completely different industry (say paying a beauty blogger to review a set of high-tech headphones). In some contexts this may work, but in general it has the risk of tainting the authenticity of the blogger whom you’re working with, and leaving a questionable impression of your brand in the mind of the reader (i.e. making it very clear that you paid for this review).

I could go on and on about all the different ways that brands have unsuccessfully worked with bloggers in the past, but I really wanted to provide an example of a great blogger collaboration that was put together by the luxury British, brand Mulberry. The collaboration featured YouTube power couple Tanya Burr (a make-up artist and beauty blogger), and Jim Chapman (a men’s lifestyle blogger), who collectively have around 11 million followers across all their social media platforms. The collaboration consisted of a video, and photo-shoot following the couple’s daily life in London, and featured a set of Mulberry bags that they were photographed with.

The reason this collaboration works so well is that it features the bloggers in a very natural setting (their own home and neighbourhood) and integrates the brand seamlessly into their lives. As shown in the image below, you can clearly see both bloggers with Mulberry bags, but that isn't the entire focus of the shoot. Instead it portrays a momentary glimpse into how they use their Mulberry items on a day-to-day basis.

Jim Chapman & Tanya Burr in Mulberry (Source: Mulberry Website)

Other brands that have also curated great blogger collaborations include Burberry with their ‘Art of the Trench’ initiative, ASOS with their ‘Bloggers We Love’ section, as well as Nike, with the blogger collaborations surrounding the launch of their Nike ID service.

There is without a doubt great opportunities for all parties involved in collaborations such as the ones mentioned above, but once again it comes down to the strategy of selecting the right bloggers, featuring the brand in an authentic manner, and creating content that is genuinely engaging for your own target market, and that of the bloggers you are working with.

To read more information about the Mulberry collaboration in particular, visit Mulberry.com.
Salil Kumar
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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