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How luxury brands can tap the blogosphere’s growing influence

November 8, 2010


Blogs are increasingly important voices for luxury brands to tapLuxury brands need to be more proactive in cultivating a presence in blogs that have assumed a more central role in the cultural discourse, according to several media experts.

Consumers trust blogs more compared to traditional media than they did five years ago. Brands should actively look for ways to generate positive press by developing relationships with prominent industry bloggers.

“My specific advice would be to identify bloggers and content creators who are genuinely passionate about what your brand is trying to do,” said Imran Amed, founder and editor of The Business of Fashion, London. “Build real relationships with them, so they can offer something unique to their readership.

“It gets people excited and engaged from social media,” he said. “There are a lot of creative things people can do.”

Mr. Amed spoke at L2 Think Tank’s Innovation 2010 Forum along with Lauren Sherman, editor of Fashionista, New York; and Christine Barberich, editorial director of Refinery 29, New York.

Blogosphere ascendant

There is reason to believe that blogs are assuming a more central role in the social discourse, according to Technorati’s 2010 State of the Blogosphere report.

Forty-six percent of consumers said they trust traditional media less than they did five years ago.

Meanwhile, 34 percent said blogs are being taken more seriously and 19 percent said blogs are a better source of information than traditional media oftentimes.

Thirty-nine percent of consumers said that more people will be getting their news and entertainment from blogs in the next five years than from traditional media.

Just under 50 percent of consumers say they trust blogs for brand, product or service information, compared to around 60 percent of consumers trust traditional media such as newspapers, television or radio news, news Web sites and magazines.

Meanwhile, 71 percent of bloggers only write about brands and products whose reputations they approve of, according to Technorati Media’s 2010 State of the Blogosphere report.

Additionally, one in three bloggers will boycott products and 20 percent will share their reasoning with their audience, and advocate that their readers join in the boycott.

Ninety percent say that it is important that advertising on their site align with their values.

Half of professional bloggers and a quarter of hobbyists say that they have been approached by a company to write about its brand or products.

However, 64 percent say that they were treated less professionally by brand representatives than are traditional media sources, and just 20 percent say their interactions were positive.

Value relationships

Relationships are the currency of the blogosphere, according to Mr. Amed.

As such, brands should develop a strategy for cultivating relationships with bloggers to generate brand-enhancing press.

The blogger mentioned the example of British handbag designer Bill Amberg, who contacted approached the blogger with an opportunity to design a bag suited to his lifestyle.

The two spent several months developing the bag.

“That’s a great example of engagement,” Mr. Amed said. “Of course, you’re only going to do that project with a few people.

“But what a great story for me to tell our readers,” he said.

Mr. Imran said that brands interested in engaging with bloggers should set up individual meetings to throw around ideas, rather than blanket a large number of publications with generic emails.

The personal relationship makes it much more likely that the writing that results will create value for the brand.

The most important thing is to find blogs that feel like organic fits rather than forcing relationships that make less sense.

By the same token, brands should not treat these relationships like a commodity.

Offering quid pro quo can strain relationships.

“Don’t say ‘We’ll give you something if you write about us,’” said Fashionista’s Ms. Sherman.

“People who are really interested – of course getting a gift is nice – but that’s the last thing I want to hear,” she said. “If you want to advertise on the site, that’s fine.

“But I’m going to write about you if I think you’re an interesting company.”

Golden opportunity

Whatever the case may be, luxury brands should be more aggressive in developing a presence on the Internet in general and blogs specifically, according to another blogger.

“One of the things that’s disheartening is that there are all these amazing brands and they have these amazing legacy stories, amazing heritage and so little of that is reflected in their online environments,” said Refinery 29’s Ms. Barberich. “It’s such a critical and exciting opportunity to create an environment and all those features.

“It doesn’t have to be a volume of information, but things that reflect the value and aesthetics,” she said. “They have their core customer, but there’s an opportunity to seduce a new audience – people that want to latch on to a luxury brand that speaks to them even if they don’t have the budget now.”