Sunday, 25 September 2016

5 Things To Check Before You Collaborate With A Brand on Instagram or Anywhere



Instagram is a major source of income for a lot of people right now, I'm loving the innovative ways that people are marketing products and services through all these social platforms, but there's a danger that with individuals managing their own collaborations, things can turn sour if neither party are experienced enough to make sure all bases are covered - this isn't meant to scare you off from collaborating with brands and beginning to earn an income (or maybe even just some free make-up!) from your carefully-curated Instagram feed, just a checklist of things to make sure you know before you agree to anything.

If you get approached by a brand looking to send you a product, or do a paid collaboration, you need to be sure you are going about it the right way and asking the right questions. Both of yourself, and of the brand. I’m going to share some tips that should be useful when you reach this stage, please feel free to share your own tips and experiences in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!

1.       Are they legit?

Key point. I’m constantly getting requests for the Influencers that we represent to endorse products or web-based services that turn out to be something they are not. If you have to sign up to a platform and enter your bank details – do your research. Some platforms are very legit and they offer a streamlined way for Influencers to pick up exciting jobs with major brands, who quite often only use this method of reaching bloggers – but some are not, or actually have an underlying ulterior motive. This isn’t meant to put you off, or cause too much worry, but there are companies less than legitimate that go around offering paid collaborations just to get you to sign up to a platform, and then you have to wait for a brand to select you – there was never any paid collaboration, the agent just wants to get people signed up to make their platform more appealing to brands and agencies that have their pick of 100 identical ones. I personally don’t recommend signing up to anything – if a brand wants to work with you, do it directly or through an agency that represents you (more on that later) Don’t be fooled into signing up for multiple platforms that aren’t going to do anything at all – they are using you to attract brands and you’ll very likely not receive a penny. If this happens to you, feel free to send me an email with the name of the platform, I will be naming and shaming companies that do this in future blog posts.

2.       Do you think your audience will be interested in the product?

Something seriously devaluing Influencer marketing is people will do anything for cash. I’ve seen legitimately incredible content creators go down this road more than once. They get a few big jobs, then nothing happens for a while, then they are approached by a company that doesn’t fit in with their aesthetic but they do it because they’ve quit their day job now and need the money. As soon as your audience call you out for promoting a product that doesn’t fit with who you are, you have totally devalued yourself and you’ve immediately reduced your earning potential – the whole appeal of Influencer marketing is that more than X amount of people trust your feed to be authentic, that’s why they are following you. Do everything you can not to lose their trust and if this means turning down collaborations that aren’t quite right, don’t be afraid to do it - it will add value to you as a brand overall.

3.       What exactly does the brand want from you?

If they want to send you a product, are you obligated to review it in a positive way? This is different to a company sending you a product for you to try with no obligation for you to create content around it. You need to be very careful with what you agree to when you are writing emails or communicating via DM’s.  I would suggest steering clear of companies that specifically request a positive review – this is a very grey area when it comes to native advertising and with the laws on disclosure for paid collaborations (and in this context, ‘paid’ means either a financial or product reward) set to change before the end of the year, you could be causing yourself serious issues in the future. There have been some very high profile cases of people being paid to do positive reviews and not disclosing that the opinion being shared wasn’t necessarily their own. Keep yourself legit and be sure you are being honest with yourself and your audience.

Be sure to check the brands disclosure policy. Agency advice would be that you disclose everything that you are paid in any way to create or post with the hashtag #ad and I don’t think there’s any reason why you shouldn’t do this. Be honest with your followers and they will become a more loyal community.

4.       Will the brand be using your photos on their own social media feed?

This is a very important question and one you should ask early on. If you create content for a brand, and they pay you, this does NOT automatically mean that they have the right to use your images featuring their product. This is a concept called ‘Usage’ and they should be paying more if they want to use your content in this way. When you first start communicating with the company, ask them this right away. You should expect to get paid more for campaigns in which the company will be sharing content created by you on their own accounts. Another grey area here, because some apps allow ‘regramming’ or resharing of Instagram content, but make sure you know exactly where your content is going to be used and if you are going to be credited for it. It maybe that the opportunity is a great one and you are happy to be featured on their feed - but there’s nothing stopping the company sharing your content and not crediting you. This is obviously more worrying if your face isn’t in the images, but even if it is, it’s good practice to know where your content is being used and for how long.

5. What expectations does the brand have, 
How will they deem your involvement a success?

Influencer marketing, like most forms of advertising, is a numbers game. It starts with how many followers you have, what your engagement percentage is (I'll be doing a post on working out your engagement rates this week - don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin' so you get updates!) and moves quickly on to how many likes and comments you get on individual promotional posts. It's worth finding out from the brand offering you products or cash - how many sales/engagements/downloads do you need to generate for them to be satisfied with the collaboration? 

Something to bear in mind when you are talking about this. The benefits of Influencer marketing extend behind the initial 45 minute flurry of activity on an Instagram post. Building brand awareness is a key factor and it's something that is much less measurable with traditional metrics. If you want to build ongoing relationships with brands, think about working on a number of posts featuring their products over a period of time. For a six month collaboration, you can expect significantly more money and there's a defined period for your involvement to have an impact - plus it will be much easier to evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign overall. Upsell yourself by suggesting this route to your interested collaborators - especially if a single post campaign seems to have gone better than their expectations, it's an ideal time to pitch yourself as a great ongoing investment for them.

Don’t feel worried about asking brands these questions. Legitimate brands who want to build successful relationships with Influencers will be happy to discuss these things - they need to ensure they are getting as much bang for their buck as possible. 

But, if you are worried, think about hooking up with an agent. Legitimate Influencer agencies are the best way of ensuring you are valuing yourself correctly, they'll do all of this work for you leaving you to do what you started this venture for in the first place - creating amazing content about things that you (hopefully) love. I'll be posting more about this in the coming months, but if you are getting approached once a fortnight or more, it's probably time to get someone involved who can manage interested parties - they'll take a fee, but you'll get significantly higher overall payments  and exposure to brands that never would have found you otherwise. 

As I said, I'd very interested in your opinions and what questions you have found important when starting a relationship with a brand. There's a lot of secrecy and misinformation surrounding Influencer marketing and I'm hoping that I can use my blog as a platform to change that - you thoughts on any aspect of this would mean a lot to me :)


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Automated Posting Applications Are Ruining Instagram



Hashtagbot, Instasumo, Tweetfavy...the list of applications that promise to add to  your Instagram following has grown steadily in the last year. In the early days of Twitter, I remember being mildly surprised by Magpie's ability to post automatically to my feed, a series of sponsored tweets from categories I had selected. Things have progressed since then and you can now schedule likes and comments for both Twitter and Instagram that relate to hashtags or accounts you have selected. It doesn't take very long to set up, and there's a range of options that are designed to make the automated engagements seem as natural as possible.

I've been using TweetFavy for about three months now. It started with a 14 day trial, I set it up to like or retweet any tweet with certain hashtags. As I'm looking to grow my following to be able to reach bloggers and social media experts across the UK, I chose hashtags that relate to the major UK-based retweet accounts such as @ukbloggers1 @lovingblogs and @bblogRT. It keeps track of all the engagements that it produces and with a bit of adjustment of the ones that weren't converting into followers as much, I've gained 300 followers, an inbox full of automated messages and the occasional reply to a retweet that I've made from an actual person.

I paid to have TweetFavy on an ongoing basis - aside from the occasional retweet of something overly political that's been tagged for reach rather than relevancy, it's worked really well, so when I realised I wanted to grow my Instagram account too, I looked for a similar service. As soon as I did, I realised that a lot of the people that comment on and like my pictures are already using something like this. If I look at my three most recent pictures, I'm pretty certain that most of the comments are automated. They tend to be really generic, slightly out-of-context comments like "This is first rated!" on a picture of my son, or "Great shot!" when I've regrammed a meme. The more I looked into it, the creepier I found it. You can set it up to comment on people you follow and their content at random, as well as hashtags and people you have tagged.

I've come to the conclusion that actually, I'd rather my interactions on Instagram were real. I don't want a bunch of comments from people that haven't actually looked at my images, I want to be reaching out to people, growing an audience of engaged, interested followers and interacting with them in the comments section of my posts. If the person posting the comment hasn't even seen the  picture, I don't think they should be telling me it's "Superb!"

Growth comes from engagement - not everyone has the time or inclination to spend hours scrolling and making comments, but I truly believe that the top Instagrammers (by which I mean, everyday people and not celebrities or brands) have risen to the top because they have put time and effort into authentic interactions - in fact, not just interactions, but conversations.

While using a platform to post for you might seem like a time-saving plan, I'd like the average Instagram user to think twice. I believe these type of platforms are devaluing the engagement metrics that brands and Influencer agencies use to determine which social media stars would be right to employ as a promotional tool. Brands need to know that an Instagrammers following are actually interested in their content. Real people, posting real comments and questions are very valuable to brands, events and Influencers. As soon as there is a question as to whether the engagements an individual is receiving are real or automated, the value of a collaboration goes down for both parties.

This is an issue for everyone who hopes to use their Instagram stream as a source of revenue. From the major 'Inspiration' accounts resharing content from across the web to the average user who is posting purely for fun, likes and comments are the whole point. If you suddenly found out that most of them are coming from a bot, would they still be as important to you? They definitely aren't for me. I want to know that interactions are coming from someone who has seem my content and wants to interact with me about it, not because I've used a hashtag that one of these automated posting algorithms has picked up.

I'd love to know your thoughts and feelings on this. At the moment, these platforms are legal and allowed to link with your account on both Twitter and Instagram and you are not required to disclose if you are using one. I don't believe that Twitter is as important as it was five years for making money through social media, and because the interactions that are generated through Tweetfavy are primarily retweets, it doesn't feel as cheaty. Maybe I'm being naïve and other people out there feel the same way about these applications for Twitter. All I know is, I won't be looking for an automated engagement creation platform for my Instagram any time soon - I want to build a community of people who I can talk with, share ideas & brainstorm ways of making the best use of social media tools- this can't happen if every other comment is being posted by a robot.

There is already a serious lack of authenticity in so much of the content that I see on Instagram, from recent scandals involving celebrities not disclosing payment for positive reviews, whitening toothpaste being advertised by starlets with very obvious veneers, individuals suddenly claiming they have always, always, always used a certain brand then suddenly sharing content for a major competitor a week later. Instagram is an exciting and engaging platform that offers so many opportunities for brands to reach out to a new audience - I've recently got addicted to Boomerang (loops a very short video backwards and forwards for sharing on Instagram, it's really fun) - if the community isn't careful, it risks becoming a soulless, robotic arena full of automated programs exchanging platitudes. I don't want a future where my Instagram username is having conversations on my behalf, it's way too creepy.

What do you think about automated posting platforms, can it be a positive thing for social media as a whole or has it already gone too far?

Real people only: Follow me on Insta here.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Five Tips For Boosting Your Instagram Engagement & Following





Since I started my new job, at one of Britain’s leading modelling agencys, within their Influencer department, I’ve been exposed to so many incredible Instagram accounts. How did I not know about Symmetry Breakfast, for example?

I get emails every single day from budding social influencers wanting to be matched with brands and start earning money from their social following. I’ll be doing a series soon about how you can get yourself a blogging agent and what the benefits are, but I thought I’d kick of a new raft of social media school posts by giving away 5 tips for organically and honestly boosting your Instagram following. Don’t fret! I’ll still be posting all my usual content and still have some events posts coming up from our adventures at Bluedot Festival, Bures Festival and our upcoming trip to Portsmouth for the best fest in the west, Victorious 2016.  Okay, confession, it’s not in the west but that was a totally great rhyme…

A few industry secrets – in the Influencer marketing world, Engagement is ALL.  We don’t pitch to our clients based on follower data, although it obviously forms part of the bigger picture - we only take on Instagram Influencers with more than 40,000 following, for example. What we do present to our clients is Engagement. All of the tips I’m sharing today are centred around increasing engagement on your posts, and with increased engagement, your following will naturally grow too.

1. Respond to comments.

Everyone does the ‘post one emoji and run’ thing. It’s the equivalent of dropping just your blog link in a comment section on a bit site. It can sometimes be hard to know what to respond to an individual emoji, but rack those brains, tag the commenter and give a similar response – a heart will often do the job. Your thanks will draw the commentator back to your post for another chance to grab them as a follower. This, incidentally, is proven to work even better for gaining and retaining followers if you post another photo before responding to a batch of comments. 

2. Answer questions

I’m constantly being contacted by people looking to take the step in their blogging career. My first step in this situation is to check out their blog. If I see a bunch of answered comments or questions in their comments section of twitter feed, I’m going to assume that the person isn’t actually interested in starting online conversations, in communicating. Since they aren’t in the habit of responding to comments now, how can I have faith that if I match them up with one of our brands, they will engage with potential customers of that brand and drive traffic in the correct way? Real Influencers understand that they need to build a community for their brand to be successful and that involves positive interactions within your communication platforms.

3. Be real, share your true self.

This is common sense. If you are in a great looking place, eating fabulous food or hanging out with interesting people, get a snap and post it up. Take advantage of every opportunity that you have to tag and link  places and events in your posts. Be that guy that asks at the bar if they have a hashtag and take an exciting photo of you having a fun time. This will start introducing you to the types of brands that would fit well with your stream – because it’s the kind of content that you are sharing anyway. Take this one step further – once you made the post, click the linked hashtag and like or comment on two or three other photos that have used the same tags. This will build your following by bringing your account to the attention of people interested in the type of things that you are doing, and it’s all natural!

4. Keep it positive

The party line here is that we and our Influencers do not respond in any way to negative comments. However much you might be tempted to fire back a snappy remark, don’t. Brands like to see people dealing with negativity in the best way possible – there is NO way to respond to trolls and come across as someone who has a grip on their social community. Don’t delete the comment, just reply to a different one, so it’s obvious you’ve seen it and decided it’s not worth your time. That doesn’t stop you keeping it there as part of your total comment count – increasing your personal engagement stats! Obviously, if it’s sweary, or reveals something you wish wouldn’t be on the internet, delete, delete, delete – but no major social influencer gets ONLY positive comments. Stay true – just make sure you show it has no effect on your positive vibes. 

5. Follow the trail

It takes time and energy to build an Instagram following – you will not wake up one day with 100K followers without putting the legwork in. This means getting out there and commenting on other people’s posts, engaging with them and following people with mutual interests. I like to do something called ‘following the trail’ I’ll start with an account that’s commented on me, and I’ll give them a few likes and comments. I’ll find a pic with another user tagged, or a really positive comment and follow that to a different account. I’ll give a few likes and comments, find another tagged account…until I come full circle or run out of time. This is a great way to discover new account ts that will be interested in your content.

Boosting engagement is all about getting the right followers, commenting on your posts. There’s no point in having a million followers from Columbia (a prime region that shows up in insights when someone has bought a lot of followers) if none of them ever interact with your content – the key is to organically grow your following by finding accounts that fit in with your aesthetic. 

I hope these helped someone out there, don’t forget to drop a comment below if you found any of these tips useful – please also share your own tips or experiences, I love reading them!

I’ll be back early next week with the start of my series on Blogger Agents, the How and Why.

Katy x





Monday, 11 July 2016

The Curious Yellow 2016

I realised as I wrote the title that this year, the guys took the 'The' off the stage signing. So maybe it's just 'Curious Yellow' now? Answers in the comments please, I can't be going around getting that wrong.

Exactly one week ago we packed up Hayley's poor car with enough camping equipment to survive for a month, and headed off to Harlow. My heart was pretty much jumping the whole way, as we got stuck in traffic, realised we had no water, smoked too many cigarettes and tried to avoid starting every sentence with 'Last year...'

And then, considerable further down the lane than I recalled, we arrived at the little gazebo manned with yellow-wristband brandishing fluro-wearers. We were in! The inimitable Greg appeared from beyond the wall and ushered our crew inside, and the moment I'd been waiting for a year was upon me, walking down the gentle slope into the Gibberd Gardens, past the swing and into the riverside undergrowth towards the camping area. I felt about 10st lighter walking into that wild pathway, memories rushing back, excitement building. The layout was perfect, the bedoin tent (sadly under used this year, I felt) set up along the brook, giant Tipi's erected by the Red Hand Tipi Clan, who over the weekend gained angelic status for their ability to always have a fresh hot tea or freezing Tango, any time of the day or night - like them on Facebook to follow their events, I think they do some pretty cool stuff!




We pitched our tents and went off on an explore. I kind of gushed already about how beautiful these gardens are, but I guess I was worried that in my mind I had somehow made it better than it actually was. I was thrilled that I hadn't.





This year, every single music act we saw across the two stages was awesome. The guys seem to have the magic touch when it comes to picking spot-on acts - although in the spirit of complete honesty I think the line-up times needed a tweek - Our friends The Consciousness Collective, with the most incredible resonant instruments and perfectly timed set should definitely have been a late afternoon chill out, many missed their late night performance. The Turner Brothers and Sweetcornbread, the two bands we'd come along with, smashed their sets and picked up some new fans for life - I wish I had better photos of their set but I love the atmosphere of these shots - thanks to Grace Fox for taking some photos with a disposable camera!




If you are reading this in early 2017 trying to decide on a ticket or not - do it. We took a larger than usual crew this year because of all the raving we've done about this festival and every single person had a fantastic time - as well as an experience personal to them. The gardeners in our group found some incredible rare flowers deep in the garden, the music lovers enjoyed Bare Jams so much they saw them again. The free spirits took to exploring the surroundings with abandon and the musicians and singers jammed long into the night and early morning under a wonderful clear sky. One highlight for me was hearing the Game Of Thrones theme tune drifting over from our neighbours encampment on an accordion and other unexpected instruments. I took my steel tongue drum to try and play with the gong guys but I got immediate stage fright when all eyes where on me and I bottled it - maybe next year!











It was pretty hard to pack up and leave. We had planned to leave on the Sunday as had commitments at home but a last minute rush around finding plug sockets and an only slightly imaginary emergency meant the majority of us stayed on for the last night and were super glad we did, getting to hear the organisers Dan and Greg play some wild sets of their own. We stayed up 'til dawn again that night on sheer exhilaration and increasingly strong (curious) Yellow Punch.





Dragging our stuff up the wooded lane to the car park felt like I was climbing Everest with all my possessions on my back - it was bittersweet to leave - I was looking forward to a deep bath and change of clothes, but knew I'd be counting down the days until we could come back. Currently at 356.





Big thanks to the designers, organisers, volunteers and foodie places, we had an incredible time and can't wait for next year...(I'll add links in here shortly)





Katy x

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Five Reasons To Grab A Last Minute Curious Yellow Ticket For This Weekend



Weekend Approaching! In just two tiny sleeps is the festival that I've been counting down to for the last 360 days. That's a pretty long time to prepare for two nights away! Last year, I didn't know I was going to get all Curious until the day before - could you throw your stuff in a bag and go to a festival at that short notice? I bet you could :)

I overheard a whisper from the guys over at the festival site setting up that there's a last little run of tickets available, either to purchase today, tomorrow or Friday morning, or to buy on the door. Their website is right here, linked in this text. If you fancy an adventure this weekend, chuck your tent in the car, grab a few bottles of water and come join us for an amazing weekend you won't forget. I'd love to see some of my blog readers there - I'll be the one coated in glitter with the giant smile :)

Here's 5 reasons why you should grab a last minute ticket...

1. The Setting

I kind of covered this beauty of the Gibberd Gardens in my review of the festival last here. You can read that by clicking anywhere in this sentence if you fancy, but here's a little peek.





2. This wonderful, sky-high swing



3. It's for everyone

This festival is for everyone - the kids had an amazing time last year, playing in the freshwater spring, running wild in the undergrowth and dancing to an incredible variety of music. The gardens are safe and enclosed, so the kids went totally free range and they loved it. I have some beautiful photos of little ones drumming, slightly older ones dressing up and generally having fun and children and adults of all ages enjoying the atmosphere, I'm reluctant to post pics of other peoples kids without permission, so you'll have to take my word for it, but what I do have, is these photos of my besties and I soaking up the sun last year...





4. Music

Last year I went with Sweetcornbread, who smashed their set late at night and got the whole tent clapping and cheering. This year, three bands that I have connections with are playing (and they are all completely awesome), as well as loads that I've been looking up online and having a listen to. I think the Happy Daggers and the boys from the Consciousness Collective are pretty unmissable. The Turner Brothers were all that was missing from last year for me, and I'm thrilled they are going to be on stage, strutting their stuff and hopefully playing some new music. There's going to be an incredible atmosphere when the boys are up there. I've roped as many of our crew into bringing their T-Bro t shirts as possible and I can't wait to get sweaty in the crowd, as well as get some photos of the lads on the main stage. Rumour has it, the big black and white tent that you see in these photos is no more, and it's being replaced this weekend with a series of connected geodesic domes. Here are some snaps I took of the mini-dome we danced all night and some of the morning in, last July- can't wait for a repeat in a bigger space!






Here's the full line up if you fancy a look before committing, but I think you should just go for it :)


5. Escape From Reality

This is the BIG one for me. I love my little flat and my life with my son, but there is something freeing about spreading your wings and getting stuck into a completely different way of being. I love being outdoors in the sunshine, rolling in rum-soaked fields and seeing and hearing things I don't usually get the chance to (Gong tuned to the frequency of Jupiter, anyone?)

There are lots of surprises in store for revellers. Last year we were treated to late night fire art shows, whiskey tasting, crazy bike riding, exploring the grounds, giant games and space hoppers...This year is bigger & better and I am so pumped to see what the guys have in store!







So, if you want to come, grab a ticket from the Curious Yellow website - click anywhere around here and the magic of the internet will whisk you to the ticket-buying part of their site. Then grab some festival-appropriate garbs and a pot of glitter and come make some amazing memories - see you there :)

Next time I'm here, I'll have a whole bunch of new photos and experiences to waffle about for another year - I'm off to pretend to sleep so it comes faster...

Katy x

Many thanks to Tasha and Zoe for letting me use their photos in this post :)

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