Marketing: Companies everywhere are constantly being advised to ”act more like publishers” to get ahead in the new online economy. But what does that really mean? Often companies are unsure where to start or how to progress to the next level.
Producing branded content like a publisher is a strategy that bloggers – the modern day superstars – have been leading the way in for the last few years. UAE’s branding and digital agency Omnia believe that what a lot of brands need to improve on, they could learn directly from bloggers. So we interviewed two of the region’s most influential bloggers, Anika Morjaria and Deepti Chandak, to gain an insight into how to succeed with online marketing.
Branding: Strong branding has become an even more integral part of business communications since the advent of online channels. Consistency is required across all platforms, not just visually, but in tone of voice too.
It is more important than ever for customers to know that there are real human faces behind the logos and customer service chat bots. The public wants to get to know the real you. Bloggers understand the psychology behind growing an engaged community of fans.
Renowned Dubai-based travel and lifestyle blogger Anika Morjaria of Literally Anika explains why bloggers are earning consumer trust faster than big brands; “To the consumer, companies can often comes across untrustworthy and unrelatable which is why many customers now to turn to bloggers/vloggers as people they can trust for honest reviews. People relate to people and many companies are thankfully starting to see this, although I have found this region has been slower to adopt these strategies compared to countries like the USA.”
Consistency: As with traditional media, some of the best bloggers will publish editorial calendars or have set patterns for content publishing on a weekly or monthly basis. That’s because readers like knowing what to expect and enjoying the routine of engaging regularly. Brands could learn from this and approach their content in a more structured way.
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Jive With Deepti blogger Deepti Chandak has lived in Dubai for 10 years, blogging about everything from travel to fashion and lifestyle. Chandak believes the consistent approach to content and online communications is a key differentiating factor between bloggers and brands; “Consistency is key in a blogger’s life. This helps brands and audiences know what they can expect. Regular content, sticking to the genre and tone of the voice is important.”
Passion: Bloggers know what it’s like to start from the ground up, driven only by a passion to share their experience or love of a topic, be it fashion, fitness, cooking or travel. That passion is authentic and that’s why their influence becomes so potent as their audience grows.
Brands can show the same enthusiasm and expertise to grow loyal followings. Businesses sometimes risk a natural loss of this enthusiasm in their communications as a result of scaling-up and growing their teams at a fast pace.
Morjaria believes this can be avoided when business owners and leaders maintain their own online profiles as the business brand grows; “Companies can learn from bloggers and try to implement the strategies they use into their own practices. A good example is John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile. He is extremely active on social media, very responsive and not afraid to involve himself with his audience which in turn builds trust to his brand.”
Community: The new digital channels for two-way communications require businesses to think of their “readers” rather than “customers”. Traditionally, brands would have talked about consumers, in a cold, one-way sense that makes people feel sold-to. Bloggers, however, talk about their readers or their fans. They create a sense of community where they constantly try to be useful to them and thank them for their loyalty.
Small businesses in particular can find it an uphill struggle to grow new audiences from nothing, but there are shortcuts to finding like-minded people already engaged elsewhere, as Morjaria explains; “Another powerful strategy is to bring influencers in on a project by project basis, by involving them in a specific social media campaign to promote the product or experience. This way the influencer can understand the company and the company can also learn from the influencer.”
Data: Bloggers get never-ending feedback from their work thanks to a plethora of online statistics. From site traffic to social shares and comments, bloggers can analyze the performance of every single thing they do. As a result, they improve with each piece of content they create.
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Chandak explains that the useful information isn’t just in the quantitative data, but in the quality feedback from readers (and potential customers) for brands collaborating; “It’s more than just data analysis, the feedback that you can gather through a blogger’s platform by working on a project with an influencer is amazing. You get the first end information and learn from a brand’s perspective on how they are doing things right or wrong.”
Collaboration: Bloggers work on a system of partnership, mutual support and cross-promotion, whereas brands have traditionally remained separate from their industry peers, in the spirit of competitiveness and commercial security. Bloggers and brands are working together more and more precisely because collaboration is a style of working that the public responds well to, but also because twice the passion, effort and budget produces results that are twice as good!
“As a travel vlogger, my job is to work with companies I believe in but essentially to bridge the gap between company and consumer by creating content which consumers can trust and relate to. Having a face people can relate to is not only important but also powerful,” – Morjaria tells us.
Global: Most bloggers understood the power of the Internet very quickly. They know that growing your following and audience rapidly is important, and that’s by thinking globally from the very beginning. Brands are starting to do this and it’s becoming evermore important in a global marketplace. Businesses now need to look beyond their industry and geography, towards more global trends.
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Chandak believes influencer outreach is a great alternative to reach mass audiences for blogs who don’t have the budget for traditional media advertising; “Bloggers are a great asset for small businesses that cannot afford media coverage beyond a limit. It’s reasonable for small businesses to reach the world.”