The secrets to online conversion with More! Magazine

More_magazineThe first magazine to adapt successfully to the online revolution was More! a social media expert in the journalism industry.

Inspired by the power of social media, More! decided the only way they could embrace it was to find out what readers now wanted from their publications.

Online conversion is adapting to changing trends in reader interests.

After researching reader interests for a year, the magazine discovered that audiences were encouraging an obsession with self image as a result of their online habits.

To combat this unhealthy fixation, More! decided to use ‘real’ models and adapt their content to the ever changing trends on twitter and instagram.

The magazine has now re-launched to cater for their new-age 18-24-year-old audience, who have become more and more reliant on social media.

Sally-Anne Argyle was fashion editor at More! Magazine for seven years before becoming a freelance stylist at The Sun and Zest magazine. She said: “More! Magazine had more fans on facebook than any other publication for many years because we discovered very early on that was a brilliant media to talk to our readers, and they really enjoyed being talked to.”

Though most magazines have embraced social media, many are yet to keep up and accept that the secret to success lies in equality between the reader and the journalist.

Online conversion is a conversation between readers and journalists. 

Sally said: “A lot of magazines aren’t quite getting the importance and have, not snobbery but a hierarchy, they feel above it.

“Unfortunately it just comes down to people being too busy and magazines not employing enough people to do this, because it’s a whole other role I think.

“It’s so important but people are still unbelievably slow on the uptake which is a really poor move, we need to be keeping up.”

Online conversion is creating a brand that readers are interested in.

An interesting point brought up by Jennifer Faull is that young women create online profiles in an attempt to brand themselves. When setting up an online profile, whether it is on instagram, twitter or even a blog, initially no one knows who you are.

Anyone can post outfits they were always to shy to wear in public, say things they might have talked themselves out of saying in the past, and ultimately build up a community of people with shared interests.

Online conversion is approachable friendship.

Sally said: “Bloggers create that sort of approachable friendship, people don’t think it is above them. People don’t like being talked down to and they never have, I think a lot of fashion people are a bit like that. They can talk down to readers but that’s not right, it’s not the way I do my business.”

Reader interests and online trends are as vulnerable to change as fashion is from season to season. This is where bloggers have an advantage. Bloggers do not have a specific reader to cater for, unlike magazines. In order to converge successfully it seems that magazines now must be open to changing their content to suit the changing reader interests. But should the voices behind social media be entitled to the power to change the news agenda, especially when bloggers are not faced with this same issue.

Are magazine journalists are losing power where bloggers who control their own content are gaining it?

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“The web is what you make of it.”

Determined to move her bullied daughter to a private school, Julie Deane wrote a list of ten ways to make money and pay for tuition fees. After discovering an old photograph of herself wearing a leather satchel as a little girl, she decided she would recreate a collection of them in the comfort of her own kitchen.

The web is what you make of it

After googling various ideas of how to get the satchels into the public eye, Julie sent every satchel she had made to fashion bloggers across the UK. The Cambridge Satchel Company is now an internationally recognised brand, admired by celebrities and featured in prestigious magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Glamour.

The power of the fashion blogger

The Cambridge Satchel Company clearly demonstrates the power of the fashion blogger. In an interview with Danika Daly for PR Couture, Julie Deane said: “The bloggers were instrumental. They were the one big thing. You get a mention in a magazine now and again, but the bloggers were always there. They were always supporting the brand.

“They developed such a relationship with the brand that they helped me with everything from choosing new colours  to what we could do with competitors. It brings the website to a trendy market instead of just school children, so I didn’t get pegged in that hole.

“It’s a tangible show of the power that the bloggers have. They all got behind something, and they made a real difference. It’s wrong to sideline them because they are so influential, important and approachable.”

Beauty blogger: “Honesty is the key to trust”

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Ayshe Ismail believes her honesty about products gains readership

I met beauty blogger Ayshe Ismail, 28, at an event recently to discuss the authority of rising power bloggers in the fashion industry. Ayshe is a magazine journalist who uses any spare time she has, whether it is the morning commute or during a busy lunch break, to update her beauty blog Discovering Beauty.

Having studied science at university, Ayshe tests and explains the effectiveness of the ingredients in the products, rather than being drawn in to clever marketing.

Bloggers have so many followers, how did you gain your trust with you readers?

“I think because I’ve always been honest with my reviews and I’ll always try and be balanced. I’m never harsh but I do weigh up the good and the bad about the product. (My blog is more beauty based). I guess that because I go out and spend my own money on things it shows that I believe in what I do. And you’re then more likely to be a bit more critical of something rather than when you’ve just been sent it for free. In terms of trust, I’m more likely to believe something that I read on a blog because I feel like in a magazine the aim is to sell more products, you never see anything negative and you never see anything saying, this might not be good for this kind of person.  With a blog they’ll say ‘I’ve got this skin type and this doesn’t work for me but it might work for this instead’. I think you can tell when people do a sponsored post, by the tone of voice. Sometimes you’ll be reading it and think, this sounds different to how they normally talk.”

So would you say the main difference is that magazines have a motive whereas bloggers don’t?

“I think some people can be honest even when they’ve been given something but I guess that’s when your influence really comes into play. When you’re a smaller blogger it is harder for you to become critical because you might not have the fans interacting with you if you’re being negative. But when you’re a big blogger you can afford to be more honest because you’ve already got that following and have earned that trust. I have no idea how you get there, I just know it can take a while.”

Do did you read blogs before you started?

“Yes, I watched a lot of YouTube and read a lot of blogs. I have my own beauty blog because I’m more interested in skincare over anything else. I used to have quite bad acne so when I started trying to fix that, I wanted to share how I did it. What I liked, and didn’t like. I got more into make-up and carried on that way.”

There’s a shared belief that magazine and print journalism is dying out, what are your views on that?

“I hope that it doesn’t  I hope that there is always print journalism. I am also a magazine journalist so I hope there is a place for it. Print is slowly going to die down but I think it will always exist. Blogs are good for getting someone’s opinion but when it comes to skincare, especially when they talk about how stuff works, I’m probably more likely to believe something in a magazine than in a blog because I don’t necessarily know where that person has got their information from – have they just taken it from the back of a bottle? Maybe I make that assumption that the journalist actually does the background research so they might have a bit more authority when it comes to speaking about that sort of thing.”

How important are your readers to you?

“They’re really important, I’m always trying to think about what they want to know and how to get them engaged. It does mean a lot to me when they comment. Whether they’re commenting on the post that I have written, or just as a whole they do mean a lot.”

Do you think that because you can adapt to your readers as you get to know them, you’re almost catering better than magazines?

“Yeah, I think it’s a learning process because I’ve had my blog for over two years, its given me a chance to learn what works better. I ask myself, do I need lots of pictures, or text, or do I need to explain different things? I’ve had a lot of chance to play with it. I guess this is what magazines can’t do.”

So do you find multimedia an effective tool on your blog?

“I’ve definitely got more into photography since I started. On other blogs, I value seeing really good photographs and good product shots.”

With blogs it’s more about creating short and snappy pieces and making them really visual, but because of the limited time you have to do this, do you think the quality can be compromised?

“I think so, it depends on the blog as well. I reckon there would be a lot more pressure for someone who has to try and get out there first with a new product or a new item. I’m in a place where I don’t do that. So it means I can take a bit more time and I can be a bit more detailed. I think that’s what my readers value. I wouldn’t want someone to come away from my post with questions.”

So they value the accuracy and quality of your articles?

“I hope so! You want to be that person who gets things out before everyone else and you also want to have a good detailed review with pictures, you have to have a balance.”

Keep updated with Ayshe’s honest beauty tips, news and reviews here: www.discoveringbeautytoday.blogspot.co.uk

Beauty and the brain: the fashion youtube sensations

Yesterday I went to a Beauty and the Brain event in East London, which celebrated four of the top UK fashion and beauty youtube sensations.

Attendees were greeted with champagne and cupcakes and seated before a stage, where the online style gurus were inundated with questions about how they reached their success with just a laptop, camera and a passion to share, talk and write.

Once the bloggers had exhausted their wisdom, we were all treated to manicures, makeovers and a free photobooth to serve as a’memory of the day’.

No doubt these youtubers work hard, filming, editing and publishing videos every three days, and blogging throughout the week. But the extravagant event that was laid out for these girls, who began blogging for enjoyment, only made me more excited about my project.

They are extremely opinionated, have posts filled with self expression, with content ranging from personal to factual and as a result, have worked with huge brands like ASOS and one had interviewed Pixie Lott after blogging for just two years.

I managed to have many of my questions answered, which will be published in a later post. But to give you an idea of the work that they produce, here are a few examples of fashion videos from their YouTube channels.

Patricia at Brit Pop Princess

Suzi at Style Suzi

Rhiannon Ashlee at Fashion Rocks My Socks

Wande Alugo at Wande’s World

My research proposal explained

This blog started off as a place where I could debate the current readings and investigations into the impact of the online revolution. Now, I want to create some research of my own.

Not only does the issue of quality, trust and accuracy arise in online journalism on a daily basis. But also whether or not blogs that are saturated in self-expression should be treated professionally by, in particular, fashion brands and PR companies.

During an internship at New Look PR I arranged goodie bags filled with expensive gifts ranging from iPad cases to jewellery for a fashion blogger event. During the event, the fashion bloggers could pick their favourite item and talk about how they would wear it on a promotional video:

Knowing full well that most blogs start off as chatty outlets in the bloggers’ bedroom, it made me wonder, why do brands put their trust in, and rely on fashion bloggers?

Below is my project proposal for my research:

Hypothesis for research

Authority in fashion journalism has shifted from mainstream print magazines to fashion bloggers. A critical study of the new power bloggers in the fashion industry

Research questions that arise from this hypothesis

  • If journalists consistently question the ability of bloggers, why do PR companies treat them like royalty?
  • Do readers trust people that they can identify with?
  • Do readers enjoy the blur between professionalism and personalisation?
  • Do readers like to be a part of reader communities?
  • How do bloggers gain trust?
  • Is the ‘many to many’ interaction online favourable over the ‘one to many’ interaction with magazines?
  • What would be the equivalent print publication to fashion blogs targeted at a market of aged 16- 25 year olds?
  • Are fashion bloggers filling a gap in the market?
  • Do bloggers call themselves journalists?
  • How do magazine journalists view fashion bloggers?
  • Why do magazines now have blogs?

Method

  • Interviews with:

–          Fashion bloggers and youtubers

–          Magazine journalists to create a fair and balanced argument

–          Fashion PR companies who rely on bloggers to promote their brands.

–          Readers of both magazines and blogs

  • Literature review to create arguments for and against my hypothesis by debating current research
  • Vox pops
  • Surveys
  • Sparking debate on my blog

Practical project

Create my own fashion blog…

Article ideas

  • Transcripts of interviews with bloggers
  • Debates and my take on readings and findings
  • Articles of statistics from my surveys
  • Video, images, multimedia
  • Comparisons between blogs and magazines

How my project fits in with my research

  • Will help to test the idea of reader communities

–          e.g. if a interviewee blogger with loyal readers retweets my article, how many hits will I get?

  • Will open doors to interaction with other fashion bloggers so I can create more accurate research and recieve more honest answers
  • Gain an understanding of how bloggers earn trust
  • Analyse the view that bloggers have authority over magazines

How it fits in with my hypothesis

Debates from readings have shown that quality, trust and accuracy are major issues related with blogs. I want to challenge this shared belief and show that all of these things can be found within fashion blogs in order to test the idea that they have gained authority.

By blogging myself I will be able to test the truth in the view that the internet generation are more interested in “self-expression than learning about the outside world; anonymous blogs and user-generated content is deafening today’s youth to the voices of informed experts and professional journalists.” (Keen,2007)

And compare them to the opposing view that “technology has become a whole new artistic medium for self-expression” (Schwartzmann, 2011) and debate whether or not if the subject matter is creative and subjective, should self-expression be an issue?