Over the last 6 years the vlogging world has turned into a multi-million pound industry, with vlogs costing brands anywhere from £2K to £10k for a single post aired to billions of followers.
Whilst somemight question how these vloggers charge so much, PR Week reportedly found that one vlog or tweet has the ability to deliver over 120% more web traffic, and a 40% uplift in sales when a product is featured.
So, why might this super breed of influencers be the new voice of brand authority in a world where celebrity endorsements have reigned supreme for decades before?
Rather than becoming famous for their acting or sporting ability, vloggers are respected for their authenticity and normality, maintaining an honest and transparent relationship with their followers. A review from beauty blogger Tanya Burr or gaming extraordinaire PewDiePie can be seen as a more trustworthy source of endorsement. As such, these vloggers appear to live an accessible lifestyle similar to their viewers making their opinions more relatable to the average consumer.
These new influencers have captured the attention of global brands, eager to find a means to reach the notoriously hard to engage teen market. The pinnacle of the brand/vlogging revolution was reached in 2015 when President Obama called upon three YouTube stars to interview him on their respective blogs. Questions were submitted by the fans of each vlogger to shape the interview following his annual State of the Union address. This clearly demonstrates the influence and power vloggers have in today’s society.
Other brands such as Sainsbury’s have launched and dedicated their own YouTube channel using successful fashion vlogger Fleur De Force and her husband Mike. Since launching in 2014 ‘Food With Fleur & Mike’ has over 50K subscribers with an average of 25,000-50,000 views per vlog and a video completion rate of 76% in comparison to the average 5% completion rate. Thus making it clear to see how brands can carefully determine their message penetration rates when working with vloggers.
The most successful partnerships to date have been wholly reliant upon the synergy and authenticity between both brand and vlogger. Zoella’s partnership with the charity MIND in 2014 saw her become an ambassador to raise awareness of anxiety and panic attacks in young people. However, the reason the partnership was such a success was not down to Zoella’s immense popularity amongst her 9million followers, but instead due to her previous discussion about her personal battles with anxiety and panic attacks on her channel.
One of the initial challenges for MIND was not only how to change the preconceptions about mental health, but also how to reach Gen Z, an audience which so many brands find difficult to successfully engage with. However, this campaign has shown that with an authentic brand partnership in place Zoella’s support generated an immense response which resonated with an audience that might have previously seemed inaccessible and difficult to reach. Her support therefore felt authentic and audiences that cared about Zoella began to take this issue to heart.
Brands need to be aware that along with its increase in popularity comes an increase in the rules around the practice of influencer marketing. As the vlogging phenomenon has taken a hold of the digital landscape this new revolution has more recently captured the attention of governing bodies such as the ASA. In 2015 the Advertising Standards Agency issued new guidelines to ensure that audiences were aware when they were being advertised to. The response came after OREO biscuits hit the headlines for partnering with the ‘Amazing Phil’ channel and failing to clearly inform viewers that they were being paid to produce the “lick race” content.
This recent change in guidelines is a clear indication and warning of how the boundaries between PR, advertising and content are blurring together. The distinction between the two becomes more important when we take into consideration the age demographics of those consuming this content. A recent report from the BBC found that 24% of 11-19 year old girls follow fashion and beauty blogs with 47% of 12-15 year olds unaware that vloggers are paid to endorse products or services.
So, how can brands work successfully with vloggers? We’ve 4 tips for successful Vlogger engagement:
SELECTION CRITERIA: Choose your vlogger wisely, align your brand to their style, audience, and personality. Often brands select vloggers with the most reach. The better criteria is a balance of reach with relevance and resonance. Without this, the success of your partnership will be massively effected and reduce the potential influence of spreading your message.
CREATIVE CONTENT: Think creatively about building an ongoing relationship with the vlogger. Google already outlaws gratuitous product placement so spend time considering the value exchange for both parties before making an approach.
REACHING GEN Z : In order to succeed within this community brands must abandon old communication and endorsement tactics and look to embrace working alongside vloggers. Doing so, will help engage directly with GEN Z who predominantly communicate within this new marketplace and gives brands the capacity to talk to a new audience.
MEASUREMENT FRAMEWORK: Before working with a vlogger you must ask yourself what you intend to gain from the partnership? Do you wish to generate multiple views, multiple shares, or just simply a positive engagement with the vlog? Defining your goals from the outset will enable you to apply the appropriate actions to reap the desired reaction.