With London Fashion Week looming, we’ve been looking at the Top 10 UK and international Blogs for a range of fashion activities. As discussed in an earlier post, these blogs are already starting to challenge the pre-eminence of glossy magazines in certain fashion circles.
But right behind the fashion bloggers, a new wave of digital influencers is emerging.
Take Kate McQuaid-Jones, a 14-year-old from Manchester. Like many 14-year-old girls, she lives to shop. But rather than spend her weekends in the Arndale centre, she has the brands she loves come to her. “A lot of brands send me make-up, jewellery and clothes,” she says. “It’s spilling out of my bedroom.”
Kate is one of a growing number of “haul video” makers, and was among those profiled in last week’s Sunday Times Style supplement (subscription required, as you might be aware). The phenomenon, in which teenage girls create YouTube videos to show off their latest purchases, their “haul”, isn’t new – Good Morning America featured a haul video segment back in March, when the Times itself first reported on it, albeit in its technology rather than style pages. But it’s becoming increasingly lucrative, both for some haul vloggers and for the marketers who get involved with them.
As the Sunday Times reported:
Shoesofprey.com, an Australian custom shoe company, paid [US haul vlogger extraordinaire] Blair Fowler a reputed £600 plus three pairs of £180 shoes in exchange for a nine-minute vlog:… “We tripled our sales as a direct result,” says its co-founder Jodie Fox. She also cites a new American shirtmaker, Blank Label, which saw a “30:1 return on investment” from working with a male vlogger. The appeal for these brands, Fox says, is that vloggers “engage more powerfully with their audience than [traditional] media; vloggers have total freedom to publish stories and opinions without censorship”.
While most of the high-profile haul vloggers are American, there are significant opportunities for UK marketers, through reaching out to both the likes of Kate McQuaid Jones and, thanks to the current exchange rate, her US counterparts.
So how to identify these opportunities? How to assess the digital influence of the haul vloggers?
Like almost all social platforms, YouTube is an environment in which network rules apply. Under these rules, some nodes are richer than others – more connected, better able to propagate content. One of the first and still one of the most celebrated viral videos, Dove’s Evolution, started from the front, being published on the YouTube channel of its creator, Tim Piper of Ogilvy Toronto. Piper’s channel is a serious YouTube node, with thousands of subscribers, many of them equally well connected and thoroughly engaged with his content, evinced by the numerous substantive comments that accompany each video.
The metrics by which the influence of the haul vloggers should be assessed are no different. The most popular haul videos, like the one above, have been viewed millions of times and leave a trail of comments over numerous pages. But as you can see, there’s a key difference: usually three-letter comments suggest a lack of influence; in the haul video world, an “OMG” can represent real engagement.