I’ve been a blogger in my personal life for years, so I was hardly unbiased earlier this year when The New York Times announced that short-form social media, like Facebook and Twitter, were causing the rapid decline of blogs. Even though I fell into the, ahem, older age group for whom blogging was reported as increasing slightly, I bristled at my most beloved medium being labeled out of favor.
In February, an impassioned debate followed The New York Times article, “Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter”), and the internet lit up with posts (blog posts, mainly) on both sides of the argument that everyone began to sum up as “The New York Times says blogs are dead.”
Fast forward to yesterday when The New York Times’ Fashion & Style section published an article about the power of bloggers as influencers. In “Fashion Bloggers, Posted and Represented” columnist Steven Kurutz describes how many young, trendy fashion bloggers have become so popular with brands that they have turned to agents to help them manage the opportunities that come their way. Digital Brand Architects is one firm that helps bloggers navigate (and get paid for) their gigs. Kurutz quotes a representative from the agency: “Bloggers aren’t just people who sit in a room and regurgitate press releases. These are the next influencers.”
There was no intermediary article in The New York Times that announced blogs were back from the dead, no “false alarm” proclamation from any of the major media, no “it’s safe to go back in the (blogging) water” all-clears from marketers. Here’s why: most of us never stopped including blogs in our influencer strategies.
Certainly, retailers kept them on their radars, both hosting their own photo-heavy blogs (like Stylust by bebe, Inside Curve by Lane Bryant and this tumblr by Ann Taylor) and promoting blogs that, well, promoted them. One of the most interesting places to watch brands court bloggers is Twitter, a medium that was cited in February as one of the nails in blogging’s coffin.
About 10 days ago, @AnnTaylor wrapped up a favorite blogger contest on Twitter: “Love a Fashion blog? Share the link and @ mention your blogger for a chance to win our Tiger Eye Pendant. We have 5 to give away!” Looking into the winners – “Congratulations to @StyleEYEmidwest, @Arosyoutlook, @thenagashi, @SocialLstyle and @MaggyEnv for winning our Fav Blogger Twitter contest!” – we can see that the largest following among them was just over 1,200, but imagine the fashion blogger leads and contacts it made (and can nurture/encourage)!
Earlier this month, @LaneBryant gave props to one fashion blogger Tanesha Awasth — “Instant Inspiration: ‘Girl With Curves’ Blogger Tanesha Awasth: ‘Stay True To Yourself’ http://ow.ly/6ngTU #lanebryant” — and commented on a tweet by another: “Love the jacket & earrings! RT @theplussideofme: New #blog post! OOTD: Pigs are Flying theplussideofme.com #lanebryant.”
In a different twist, sometimes @bebe_stores actually turns over its Twitter feed to fashion bloggers: “This is Erica of LPFashionPhilosophy (@davieanderica). I’m taking over @bebe_stores and am tweeting live from the @teenvogue fashion show!!!” and “For those of you just tuning in… This is Shea Marie from CheyenneMeetsChanel.com tweeting live from Bebe’s #FNO event in LA!! So much fun!”
@coach has a unique and regular Twitter habit, as well. Every Monday, it tweets the musical tastes of fashionistas, including bloggers: “Our friends @PurseBlog are still loving Adele’s power-girl ballad ‘Someone Like You.’ Watch it here >> bit.ly/nGNUJU #MusicMonday.” Coach also gives shout-outs to bloggers: “UK blogger @000o000 made a stop at our @CoachBlkrMen shop to peep some fall gear (cc: @vanessaflay).”
Even non-fashion brands want in on the popularity of fashion bloggers, which, though it’s ongoing, seems to have surged leading up to and during Fashion Week in New York earlier this month. Check out this tweet from @DietCokeUS): “Fashion blogger @BryanBoy sipping on a frosty #DietCoke at Fashion Night Out. #fashionweek http://instagr.am/p/OLKD8/.” Followers who click on the tweet see an Instagram photo of @BryanBoy with sunglasses and a Diet Coke in one of the cans with the new design the brand unveiled during Fashion Week.
The bread and butter social network for retailers still appears to be Facebook. (Brands, you have to have an actively managed wall!). But fashion and clothing brands seem to be leading the way on integration and utilization of other media, including Twitter and, yes, blogs of all varieties.