What Makes a Blogger Influential?

The Ultimate Fashion Influencers: Can fashion bloggers create that sort of influence?

 

With the announcement of the new Vogue alliance with bloggers, there's been a lot of criticism of Vogue's use of the word “Influencer”–both in choosing that term to begin with, and with the blogger's they have deemed influential.  Very easily, I find myself asking– what makes a blogger influential in the first place?

 

Many critics of the program have pointed to numbers– that a fashion blogger with 400 Twitter followers or 37 Google Reader followers can't be influential. That a fashion blogger with 1500 Twitter followers is more likely to be. These arguments indicate  that influence has more to do with reach– the number of people that a blogger is sharing her message with at any given time.  In an ideal world, an influential blogger would have both the trust of her readership and a large reach.

 

I believe a blogger is influential if their readers (remember, bloggers are NOT your only readers) trust the blogger's voice.  If they trust, value, and most importantly, believe their opinions.  A blogger would have influence if she shared her favorite mascara & beauty products on her site, and her readers valued her opinion and trusted her integrity enough to try the products. With the trust from her readership  a site will grow and often have a substantial following (giving them more reach), as both bloggers and readers alike will share the content.  For me, it all falls back on to trust– and whether or not the readers have it towards the blogger.   What do you think makes a blogger influential?

 

Using our mascara example, we can do a little math: Blogger A has 400 followers and 50 purchased a mascara when they needed it after she wrote about it.  Blogger B has 4,000 followers and 150 bloggers bought mascara after she wrote about it.   Blogger A had 13% of her followers buy the product after she wrote about it, while Blogger B had 3% buy it after she wrote about it.  Blogger B has more reach, but Blogger A seems to have more trust built in to her readership.  So which blogger becomes more influential?

 

It depends on whether the company want the product's name to cross eyes or to result in dollars spent. (Signature 9 discusses this to, saying “We know that quantity isn’t everything in social media – an account with 1000 engaged followers/fans can perform as one with 10,000 passive users attached. Needless to say, on the web we’re firm believers that influence isn’t just about which fashion blog has the most traffic.“)

 

Influence, like many things in the blogosphere, is a relatively qualitative idea.   Without numbers like traffic, followers, and rankings, bloggers and companies alike have difficulties in tracking it.  While more companies are looking at things like comments as a means of gauging influence over stats, it still remains to be seen the best way to determine influence.

 

Which fashion bloggers do you think have influence– large or small? And contrasting that (or perhaps complimenting it)–which fashion bloggers influence YOU?  Do you feel like you have influence as a blogger, regardless of your site's size?

 


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42 Responses

  1. Vega

    great article! definitely makes you think! i think i prefer inspirational vs influential!

    Reply
  2. Jen

    I agree with you that the size of the audience isn’t as important as the “conversion rate.” Brands most likely care more about people buying their product than just hearing about it, though both are important and valuable. However, the blogger never knows how many people buy the mascara so they never really know their own level of influence. If they don’t know, how can a brand/potential advertiser know?

    Reply
  3. Tarandip

    What you said is entirely through. Influence shouldn’t be measured in terms of traffic/stats, instead they should companies should see which bloggers are able to convert their reach into sales for them.

    Small bloggers are equally important!

    Great post Ashe!

    Reply
  4. Michelle

    Well I got into a serious debate over on Fashionistas site because she called the bloggers “lame” and not interesting. She also slammed vogue for potentially not driving traffic to these girls, or paying them to reviews. She thought that vogue was using their rank and name to i guess have these bloggers do the hard work for free. I somewhat agree, but i didn’t agree to her calling them lame because they weren’t bigger bloggers. A ton of people said that these people couldn’t be Influential because they don’t have a following, and the name just didn’t make sense. I do agree that the name is kind of pushing it. I wonder though if they changed the name would people be so up and arms about it.

    Reply
  5. MJ

    This is a great post and you’re right. I think influence cannot be tracked by numbers alone. I think it all goes back to how a blogger’s audience responds to their content and the social interaction. I think companies need to look at those bloggers who have a steady and solid audience who is engaged.

    I realized the power of a blogger’s influence by things such as the MAC blogger products. Those things sold like hotcakes just because a blogger’s name was attached to it. If I were a company, I would rather choose a blogger who has 1,000 followers who are die-hard, will buy anything that blogger writes about than the one with 10,000 fans who are passive and not engaged.

    Reply
  6. Slow Southern Style

    I honestly don’t worry too much if I’m influential or not but if someone buys something based on my suggestion I do feel good about it.

    There isn’t one blogger who I’d say makes me want to run out and buy everything she’s wearing but I have purchased items based on someone else’s recommendation. For example I started using a particular brand of sunscreen when Keiko recommended it. I figured she’s pale so it must work right? 🙂

    Reply
  7. Em

    I definitely agree that the number of people that a blogger reaches has to do with their influence. But for me, the bloggers that have had the most influence are the ones that genuinely care about their readers. Some of the blogs that I love the most may not have the most followers, but I am much more influenced by their ideas than some of the other, larger blogs I follow. I think influence is a combination of both

    Reply
  8. kimmiepooh

    While I do think that follower/fan numbers play a part, for me, a blogger is influential when you feel like you can trust what they write. I know that you aren’t just doing a post because you’re getting paid for it, but you’ve actually tried the product, visited the restuarant, own the clothes, etc., and like them yourself.

    It all boils down to having an authentic voice. If I feel like I’m reading the post of a friend, then I’m more likely to try something you write about. The one blog that I love and who’s tips I’ve tried is Cupcakes and Cashmere. I started reading her blog last September and I visit it almost daily.

    I haven’t read the article about the new Vogue Influencers but I’m actually glad that they decided to go with new people instead of the usual “super bloggers”. There are so many other talented bloggers out here that deserve a chance. I get tired of seeing the same old faces.

    Reply
  9. Keri Shadai

    You’re right. Influence can’t be tracked only by the number of followers. I’ve noticed that on my own site, a good amount of people will give feedback/comments, but still decide not to follow or subscribe.

    Great post!

    Reply
  10. Karen M.

    Unfortunately, measuring real “influence” is difficult to do.

    I try to focus on quality, rather than quantity. For instance, I get lots of referrals from people whose brands/products I’ve written about; so I have a quality referral list at my fingertips.

    If I do an exclusive interview with a fashion industry insider or a “celebrity “, I have those writing samples to use as quality original content.

    Getting published also helps. If you write for another publication, such as a print or online magazine, it’s a great way to build credibility and showcase the quality of your work.

    You can also use your subscriber count as a way to show you have a loyal following and keep track of the growth of that audience as you go along. Those are the numbers that matter the most to me; followers that like your content so much that they have it delivered to them !

    Reply
  11. No Guilt Fashion

    Great post. I know that I have bought something that a smaller blogger mentioned, because, she was passionate in her review. She had also personally spent money on this item. I ran across a BIG TIME blogger that reviewed the same product, but she didn’t come across as really having any opinion on it. I thought about it, and had that been my only feedback on the product I would have passed. In this case the small blogger had more influence.

    Reply
  12. christiewaden

    Thanks for your post, its a great help for those who wants to be a blogger.Tips like this is a great help.

    Reply
  13. The Icon Concierge

    This a great article. Vogue, like many fashion businesses are using new bloggers to gain revenue. However, for new bloggers, this may be a good way to promote themselves and get experience writing reviews and working with brands.

    As far as influence goes, numbers do count, no matter what people say. The more followers you have on various platforms, the more people you have engaged and connected to your viewpoints.

    Reply
  14. blahblahbecky.co.uk

    For me Rumi Neely and Emily Schuman spring to mind as influencial – not because of their reach per say (although it’s clearly linked to this) but simply because they have great style and know what suits them.

    I want to dress like them because they look fantastic, not because they have thousands of followers.

    Reply
  15. Elaine

    It’s true that a smaller blogger can be more influential than one with a larger following, however, it’s almost impossible to prove with real physical evidence. A blogger can’t really know exactly how many people bought the mascara they recommended, so it’s natural that companies would use the numbers available to them and target bloggers with larger followings.

    Reply
  16. Jess

    I think the writer of “the coveted” has a lot of influence, she also gets invited to these huge fashion premiers 🙂

    Reply
  17. Ellenor Marie

    I love Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere blog- its personal but it reaches out to everyone. I feel she has a lot of influence and clearly the knowledge. I also love the smaller blogs- I think to measure the real influence is difficult, its not like celebrity endorsement where companies can clearly see sales have gone up because they have paid them to talk about the product; but then again, because blogs are so personal it means that reviews on products are realistic. Its an interesting topic to discuss.

    -ellenor marie
    xoxo

    Reply
  18. Madeleine

    Both small and big blogs can have influence. I go on the measurement, if people refer to them in their own blogs and so, they are more influential, then people who don’t get mentioned so much. What I look on a blog, is a person who have a great style and love the clothes she is wearing. That is an influential blog to me.

    Reply
  19. Amanda

    Great article! I absolutely agree with the thing that ”influence” isn’t only based on numbers, although they do a great part. What if, for example, a blogger has just raised her/his blog, and in a week, they’ve got like 50 people following its advices or opinions, because they’re really good?? Doesn’t that count too?? 🙂

    Reply
  20. 3QC

    While I draw inspiration from superbloggers and small-timers alike, I would rarely go out and buy a product or an item of clothing I see on a superblog. This is because superblogs usually have sponsorships from high end brands that I simply cannot afford. I am more likely to run to H&M or Zara than Mulberry or Rebecca Minkoff. In that sense, bloggers who are in a similar bracket as me would influence me more.

    Reply
  21. Katya

    Well I happen to be one of the bloggers in the Vogue Influencer network and after reading Michelle’s comment about the discussion on Fashionista site I went and read their post –and felt like I was sucker punched! I don’t know that I consider myself particularly “influential” but I like to think I’m not “lame” either 😉 -and have my own point of view and publish only original content…which I like to think others find valuable. And this is off topic but I want to add that I just became involved in IFB and I’m glad a supportive environment like this exists in the face of haters.

    Reply
  22. sololisa

    I think of “influence” in the terms you described, Ashe: if a blogger’s readers trust that blogger’s integrity and taste enough to buy the product he/she is talking about.

    Reply
  23. Heather Fonseca

    I am very much influenced by a number of bloggers, but it’s less about shopping for what they wear than being inspired by what they do and how they dress or write or draw! I know all these companies want to sort of cash in on the blogging phenomenon, but I don’t know how practical that really is. I don’t read blogs, or write one for that matter, to buy stuff. I do it to be inspired and creative. I’m not sure one can put a dollar sign on that.

    Heather
    http://thestyleconfessions.com/

    Reply
  24. Anyaichimei

    I do love this article but I don’t like how you refer to the blogger as a she.
    I mean, I’m a he. and I fashion blog.

    I don’t know, just saying.
    it could be he or she.

    Reply
    • Ashe

      I’m sorry if I offend you– while there are male fashion bloggers, they are the minority. And given the example, the Vogue Influencers network, all of the bloggers I have seen participating are female. It can definitely be he or she, but for ease in writing, I just chose the pronoun with the widest demographic of users in our community!

      Reply
  25. Mrs B

    I think you make an excellent point about the ‘mascara-buying’, Ashe. I may read blogs with more traffic, but on the whole I’m more influenced by the smaller more intimate blogs and the interaction I have with the bloggers. I’m very happy with my own ‘ratio’, to be honest – my readership doesn’t run into the thousands, but people who comment and interact with me make it all very fulfilling…

    Reply
  26. Rachel

    This is all very true.. also you do see blogs with hundreds and hundreds of followers but hardly any commenters- does this mean people don’t interact with that blog that well? If so, even with 500 or 600 followers you couldn’t class them as influential.. x

    Reply
  27. Fajr | Stylish Thought

    Great post Ashe! Companies confuse influence all of the time. It’s less about hard and fast numbers as it is about engagement.

    I’m influenced by a lot of bloggers including you, Vahni, Andrea of Fly Girls, Gala, Christine of Love Brown Sugar and so many more.

    Reply
  28. Aishwarya Khanna

    Great article!
    This is my blog-http://aishwaryakhanna.blogspot.com/

    I’l surely have that in mind!
    Thanks for such a lovely post!
    -Aishwarya:)

    Reply
  29. Ondo Lady

    Great advice, it goes to show that stats are not everything, despite what some PRs think. It is about how you come across to your readers and the community that you build through your blog, Twitter and Facebook.

    Reply
  30. Castle Fashion

    I like the way you think about it… I haven’t thought about it that way before. I always figured the more followers you have, the more of an audience you’re reaching out to.

    But I guess trust has a lot to do with it. Especially if you review products. I think loyalty does as well. I think readers have to genuinely like the blogger they’re following of they won’t stick with them…I always follow bloggers for a “test” period and if they seem inconsistent, lazy or too focused on numbers, I unfollow 🙁

    Yasmeen
    Castle Fashion

    Reply
  31. Mattie

    I agree with some of those who have commented before me. You cannot solely determine someone’s influence based on their # of followers. But that does have a little to do with it. You do have to have someone to influence.

    But as time goes on and more blogs are born, I think it’s about how effectively people are influence their niche & their market no matter how big or small it is.

    Reply
  32. debi

    i haven’t done recommendations yet..but when i had like 20 followers someone left a comment that they would definitely try out avon products since i keep mentioning them.that felt so amazing..i personally like visiting as many blogs as i can since recurring outfits inspire me to get new things even though the brands may not be the same due to different countries.

    Reply
  33. Estilo Tendances

    Good article 🙂 I think i would rather gain my readers trust than have a lot of readers who aren’t really interested in what i post.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  34. Ashley Nicole

    Thank you for posting this. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the number game, and it can be frustrating for relatively new bloggers (like myself) to find our place. It’s nice to have this reminder that our small communities can be just as strong!

    Reply
  35. Kristina

    for me, Agathe of Stylebytes.net has a big influence. Sadly it’s a long time ago she stopped blogging. Also I like & trust Gala of galadarling.com Even if she’s very diffrent from me, she stays true and is so sweet 🙂

    Reply
  36. Kristina

    For me, Agathe of stylebytes.net had a big influence. Sadly it’s a long time ago she stopped blogging. Also I like & trust Gala of galadarling.com. She seems to me very consistent.

    Reply
  37. Ryan

    There’s a pretty simply definition for the online use of the word influencer – those that cause others to take action.

    Companies have goals and they’ll make decisions based on getting widgets out the door or getting additional name recognition.

    When looking for bloggers, for my day job, it’s never really a one or the other type of thing. A holistic approach is often the best.

    Reply