The Truth behind Influencer Marketing / by Didier Young

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By now, we have all heard of the huge controversy that sparked last week between the Charleville Lodge Hotel and blogger Elle Darby. For those who might be unaware of the incident, Elle wrote an email to the hotel to pitch the idea of a free stay at the location in exchange for showcasing them on her social channels to promote awareness of the amenities to her followers. The hotel owner decided to publicly embarrass the blogger by posting her email and his obvious disdain for the blogging community and the whole affair blew out of proportion quite rapidly. I pondered writing about the subject as my views would obviously be considered biased given my profession of choice but I do believe that this is a subject worth talking about. Without further ado, let’s talk about bloggers and the reality behind our “free” things.

While this might be a huge coup of publicity for both Elle and the hotel, this is not the first time that this particular subject has arisen. Even in my personal life, I do know a handful of people who always say that I am “lucky to be receiving all this free stuff” and that it must be a nice life to live. I won’t lie, I do not get to complain. Yes I do often get products sent to me and yes it is quite lovely to be given so many chances to experience things that I wouldn't necessarily be able to if I wasn't a blogger. However, the job doesn’t limit itself to simply receiving pretty things. The reason why we receive “free” products ahead of an official release is for us to have the chance to test drive it and to see if it is something that we would be interested in showcasing on our channels. Of course, our spacing is limited and we only get to showcase products that have caught our eye or sponsored products (we do need to make a living afterall). The same applies to traditional media. Products are sent, get featured if they fit with the reader base of the magazine or make a paid appearance on the pages of the publication. When it comes to traditional media, we rationalize it as being a way to keep the publication running because magazines don't make enough money to run their business solely on the price they charge for an issue. Why can’t we seem to understand that it is the same with a blogger? The only difference is that you are listening to the opinion of solely one person and that you don't have to pay $5.99 to know what we think of the new L’Oréal foundation.

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Of course, we do not always receive the products we desire to showcase. If we have a vision in mind concerning a piece we are looking to talk about, we have to make a pitch to the companies. While most bigger companies understand the use of bloggers in our modern society, there are still plenty of other ones that simply do not have the budget to accommodate our freelancing fees. Often, as it is the case with hotels, we end up partaking in a barter exchange, where we will provide social media exposure in exchange for a free stay. This does not mean that we are blackmailing them and insinuating that we would write a negative review if our demands are not met. It simply means that if we are given the right conditions to be able to create beautiful content, we will do it gladly and try to broaden the awareness of the hotel with our readers. It should also be noted that hotels do often have media rates which are offered with nothing expected in return.

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For those who might be dubious of the effect that bloggers, Instagrammers and Youtubers might have, simply think of it this way. We offer a marketing service where we will create content that will also act as ads on our social channels. Does it translate directly into sales? Not necessarily but I also do not rush to the store to purchase something I’ve seen on a tv or magazine. How many of you can say that you’ve purchased a Cartier love bracelet after seeing it in the pages of Vogue? (I can promise you that Vogue also charges a heck load more than a hundred bloggers would.)

I do hope that this has proven to be useful in understand what we do for a living. Every job comes with its own sets of benefits and drawbacks but our main con seems to be people’s obsessive focus on our pros. You simply need to remember that much like being a barista, a lawyer, an architect or a carpenter, being a blogger is a career choice and not merely a shortcut to freebies.



OUTFIT DETAILS: Glasses by SUPER/ Raincoat by Stutterheim/ Sweater by J.W Anderson for UNIQLO/ Denim by ACNE STUDIOS/ Belt by H&M/ Sneakers by Comme des Garçons for Nike.