On Wednesday night at the London School of Fashion Haggerston Times was treated to a master-class in how budding fashion bloggers or PR peeps can use social media to drive more traffic to their sites, and build a personal brand using the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and how to interpret the results of their efforts using techie stuff like Google Analytics, and bitly.
Josie Fear, ex-alumni, fashion PR guru and author of Fashion Mumblr, one of London’s most popular and personal fashion blogs, with 30,000+ views every month (how we wish we had that many) began by taking us on a whistle-stop tour of her blog and how she turned it into a visually stunning site that brands want to be on.
The hardest part of starting a blog, Josie revealed, is choosing the name! Phew, you might think. I’m ready to go! But the name really does have to be carefully considered; many bloggers use their own name, which certainly give their sites a personal touch, but, if you’re not sure what direction you want to go in, you might want to keep your private and public persona’s separate.
Next, you have to make your blog eye-catching. Once you have a critical mass of content, spend a little money on design. It doesn’t have to be a fortune, a few hundred should suffice, but make sure you get involved with the designers so that you have the site looking exactly as you want it.
With blogging, consistency is key; you have to update content regularly, and stay on topic. Don’t just write about whatever is trending that day, write about what interests you, you will quickly lose readers (or not gain any in the first place) if you aren’t true to your personal brand. Plan ahead, think about what you want your end product to look like, and post accordingly.
If you are looking to monetise, first of all, be realistic. Unless you happen to be Kim Kardashian, don’t give blogging a bad name by asking people to sponsor you, or pay to be featured if all you have is a few posts and pictures. If you bide your time and keep working at it, Josie says, monetisation will look after itself, with a few gentle nudges maybe to the brands you feel are most relevant to your site.
One of the perks of blogging is receiving the freebies and samples that brands want the public to know about, but try not to write about every one. People quickly see through it; if a product receives too much exposure it can be painfully obvious that they are simply handing out freebies, and that doesn’t say much about the product’s quality.
And don’t just recommend anything and everything and hope that brands start to retweet your posts; a little gentle criticism here and there shows you are genuine and can build a relationship of trust with your readers, who after all, have a right to know if a product is sub-standard, over-priced or not as good as a rival brand. With great blogging, comes great responsibility!
Most of all, people read blogs because of the personality, views or content that the blogger expresses. It’s not for everyone, and it’s a pretty much full time job. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Josie’s blog has been 18 months in the making, which is why it looks and reads so well, contains great features like video and why brands are keen to endorse it.
How to play the social media game; the insider’s take:
Liam Doolan, an ex-consultant turned social media specialist, and co-founder of fashion app Comb, then gave a smart presentation on how to build your social media presence.
Social media is one the very few businesses where under 30’s rule the roost, with more influence over what’s hot and what’s not than anybody else, and the reason for this is because they have a better understanding of how to pull the social media strings.
Everybody knows that social media is a modern phenomenon, but believe it or not, the first email was sent way back in 1970. Although it remains one of the best, biggest and most underrated channels for marketers, email has lost a lot of market share to the plethora of social media platforms that have sprung up in the past decade. To give you an idea of the impact social media is having, consider this: it took television over 50 years to gain an audience of over 200m people worldwide. Facebook achieved the same feat in less than a year! And, perhaps more tellingly, social media is now the most popular pastime of internet users, having finally overtaken the porn industry!
You may not need, indeed it might be impossible to master them all, from Snapchat to Vine, to YouTube to WhatsApp, but a working knowledge of at least a few is essential not only for any brand looking to gain traction and build reputation, but to anyone looking to grow their own personal brand and become a social influencer.
So, here are some of the highlights of Comb’s mini-guide to successful social media marketing:
Right now, say’s Liam, it can be pretty tough to gain traction for your Facebook page without paying to boost your post reach! However, there are a few things you can do to give yourself a better chance of “going viral”. Firstly, keep your posts short and sweet, about 5 lines is the limit you should set yourself. If you can add some video, great, if not, a photo will do, but always make sure you have some kind of visual attached to your post.
Now here is a seriously useful tip; unleash the power of Bitly! Bitly shortens your links, lets you measure your brands performance, and helps you find a more targeted audience. Shorter links are a fantastic asset for Twitter when you only have so many characters to play with, but what Bitly also allows you to do is discover more about who is clicking on your links, helping you build up a “holistic” picture of your target audience.
To keep track of trends in the social media space, subscribe to or visit useful blogs such as Mashable, Inside Facebook, Woobox, or Social Media Examiner. Remember, social media marketing is a science, so study, and don’t be afraid to conduct experiments!
Twitter is an awesome tool for reaching high profile or famous people, but it can also be a great place to make connections and pitch for work. First of all you’ll need a good, colourful profile pic so people respond positively when they see it. Next, of course you’ll need to follow people, and some of them will follow you back out of courtesy, but don’t just follow, interact with people and build relationships. Joining Twitter is like your first day at school, it helps to show interest in others and make some friends!
To gain followers you’ll need to be posting informative, useful and entertaining tweets. Don’t be afraid to Tweet at people or join in conversations, like the #fbloggers chat group which always has some good fashion banter going on! Be warned though, if you begin your message with someone’s handle, @haggerstontimes for example, only they will be able to see your message. To get around this, start your Tweet with a full stop, then if you do begin the tweet by addressing someone directly, everyone will still be able to see it (if that’s what you want, of course).
If you’re very serious about Tweeting a lot, consider using software such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Google Alerts, which will allow you to tweet from multiple accounts, just make sure you choose the right message for the right account, or things could get #awkward!
Instagram is obviously fantastic for fashion photography; “regram” the photos you like, follow, like and comment, and for the serious users, use Latergram to plan when, how and what you post. Use hashtags, #TBT, Throwback Thursday is a good one, but don’t spam! And DON’T BUY LIKES! No one will take you seriously if you have 40,000 followers but no interaction on any of your posts. You can’t fake it to make it on social media, folks!
Google Analytics is pretty much a must have if you want to find out about your traffic, especially if you are looking to pitch to advertisers or brands; it will give you a proper demographic breakdown, tell you where people are visiting from, how long they are spending on your site, which pages they look at, how many “fans” are returning to your site, and the numbers of unique visitors you are receiving. In other words, pretty much everything you need to know.
For example, if 60% of your visitors come from Twitter and only 10% from Facebook, where should you focus your efforts? Twitter of course! The stats tell you that’s where your users find you.
If you want to install Google Analytics on your site, you will need to add a bit of code into your site’s theme editor, but don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. Installation should be no more than a 5 minute job
So there you have it! Some of the social media basics, from someone who has successfully managed hundreds of campaigns. Liam’s final point? Remember you are your own brand, so use yourself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. PR Yourself, people!
Josie Fear is PR and Marketing Manager at Cortexica, and author of the fashion blog FashionMumblr
Liam Doolan, along with Moeez Ali, is the founder of Comb, an app that uses Cortexica’s FindSimilar technology to recommend fashion from a database of over 2.5 million items by using photo recognition