Written by: Irene Grimani
This paper describes and examines the rise of the trend named "vlogging" and identifies the reasons and benefits for brands who decide to incorporate this new medium in their communication strategies. Moreover, it addresses a number of tips that companies should be aware of in order to enhance their success and awareness via vlogs.
Before describing what vlogging means, we will illustrate the routes of this new term which is the popular practice of "blogging".
Blogs are web pages that belong to everyday people who use them as their personal journals to share their experiences, everyday lives and opinions. These are depicted through wording, visuals, videos but also internal links which direct readers to other sites (Berthon et al. 2012).
Since the rise of the digital era, consumers have started acknowledging the quality of different tailor-made brand related information. For this reason brands explore the means to address this need through identifying ways to convey their promotional messages through contemporary forms of communication. (Singh, Veron-Jackson & Cullinane, 2008). In combination to that, during the last years consumers have developed the habit of participating in discussions across media platforms in order to exchange opinions and information with other people. Given that activity, new platforms, such as blogs, that ease these discussions have been created (Kietzmann et al. 2011). In conclusion, blogging has become an essential element of today's brands communication plans and a driving force that shapes the new era of marketing (Singh, Veron-Jackson & Cullinane, 2008).
Although marketers may not like it, brand communication is not yet only in their own hands. Branding has adopted new formats through various new means such as blogs, social networking websites (e.g. Facebook) and video host platforms (e.g. YouTube) (Christodoulides, 2009). The birth of these new 'tools' changed the brand manager's role from curating the brand's communication boundaries to facilitating this publicity from consumer's side (Christodoulides, 2009).
In 2014 the business environment identified a new marketing tool that is called "vlogging" (Stickland, 2015). To begin with, let's get familiar with the term.
What is vlogging?
Based on Wikipedia, a vlog is a type of blog that uses as a communication medium the video. Vlog ("video blog") uploads often incorporate an "embedded video or a link" and content is enriched with attractive wording and pictures. This type of videos has become really common on YouTube channel (Frazier, 2014).
Vloggers along with their audience are constantly diversifying the social media scene of teens and their experience (Singh Chawla, 2014). Their rise is linked to the enormous amount of loyal followers popular vloggers have, which is even challenging the impact of traditional media (Singh Chawla, 2014).
Why vlogging has become a digital trend?
In order to have a bigger picture of the role that YouTube has gained in consumer's everyday life, let's go through some key numbers.
Approximately a billion people are using YouTube which accounts as one out of three people using the internet. Each day users spend in total millions of hours watching videos and they consequently create millions of views (Youtube, 2015). The main YouTube users fall within the age group of "18-34 and 18-49" in a much higher percentage than those targeted through television; 40% of those are clicking on it through their mobile phones (Youtube, 2015).
Based on 2015's trends, marketers have identified the necessity of framing a liaison with vloggers and start cooperating with them in order to promote their brands (Mindruta, 2015). A new medium for the marketing and advertising field has been identified through the practice and growth of vlogging. The vloggers, who mainly belong to young age group, create videos in which they appear in their personal environment showing elements of an ordinary day of their life. Brands can not only collaborate with vloggers for publicity but also create their branded "vloggin channels". (Mindruta, 2015).
Numerous companies and brands have started making use of vloggers and taking advantage of their large exposure and millions of subscribers on YouTube. This implies that brands recognize the power of this new tool and the fact that these young stars are transforming the way consumers engage online and get informed (Frazier, 2014). This is a reminder that YouTube as a channel is not the main reason for the creation of this trend but the expansion of the mobile devices use and the fact that consumers are in need of clear honest facts about their benefits of products and brands. In conclusion, video is a must-have for your brand's communication that will enable your brand to target a large group of people (Frazier, 2014).
Why should a brand engage in vlogging?
Before deciding to incorporate a vlog in your brand's communication strategy, the brand management team should be aware of the reasons to consider this new platform.
Audience Reach & Content
Vlogger's YouTube channels can give a boost in reaching a large amount of audience that other platforms might not have been able to provide.
Moreover, content wise it is an opportunity for brands to provide product information in any creative way they wish along with the input of the vlogger (Jodie, 2014). Vloggers are creating organic content that leads consumers to action. This new tool of content marketing is of value to brands since companies release the creativity of the vlogs' owners. In addition, they let them communicate with their audience the way they are used to in order for brands to gain maximum benefit (Petah, 2015).
Image 1 Zoella's subscribers (adapted from Zoella 2016a)
Image 2 PewDiePie's subscribers (adapted from PewDiePie 2016)
Good for advice
Due to consumer's extended needs of searching the products they wish, receiving product related information and proceed to purchase, YouTube has become the ideal mean for this scope. Specifically, it allows vloggers to fulfill the consumers' need of being informed by ordinary people with whom they familiarize and relate themselves (Marriot, 2015). According to l2inc.com, 75% of the people who watch a product-related video tend to browse the company's website afterwards (2014).
Based on L2's intelligence report, vlogger's YouTube videos are 15 times more attractive than brand's and companies videos, especially for beauty and cosmetics brands. In addition, the amount of people who are subscribed in vlogger channels is 108 times greater than those on brands (Rosen, 2015a).
Image 3 YouTube vloggers vs. TV & Movie Stars (adapted from Rosen 2015a)
Consumer driven & Discussion
In contrast to magazines whose objective is to generate the willingness and ambition to buy a product, vlogging fulfils the need for convenience when it comes to product information and engagement through individuals with whom consumers can be related (Stickland, 2015). Since consumers engage and trust vloggers, a form of discussion is created among consumers and vloggers (Stickland, 2015).
Image 4 Consumer's discussion on All Things Hair vlogger video (adapted from All Things Hair UK 2016)
Image 5 Consumer's discussion on Turkish Airlines vlogger video (adapted from Super tramp 2014)
Young Audience & Fields of brands
The largest part of vlogs viewers is the youth but also the Millennials (Thornton, 2015). The main purpose of their interest is not to gather product-related information (Thornton, 2015). This makes them trust vloggers more as they do not feel that they are projected to advertising material but to advice. Moreover, the fields of operation of collaborating companies with vloggers are expanding since companies from the videogames sector, beauty and lifestyle sectors have used vlogs (Thornton, 2015). Moreover, airline companies (e.g. Turkish Airlines), food sector (e.g. Sainsbury's), movies (e.g. Kingsman) and technology brands (e.g. Google) have been promoted in vlogs (Moth, 2015) which indicate the extended span of categories for whom vlogging can be relevant.
Image 6 & 7 Google & Sainsbury's collaboration with vloggers
(adapted from Moth 2015)
Vloggers outpace celebrities
In the social media field, vloggers are more influential than celebrities for brand related issues. But since numbers are better than words let's go through some metrics. Vloggers in the beauty field are more effective than public figures since they attract "700 million views per month". Their impact is higher within the age group of 13-24 years old. Finally, regarding Google Search results, when someone is searching for brands 2/3 of the results have to do with bloggers than with brand pages which account only for 8% (Rosen, 2015b).
To conclude, according to Jason Mander, head of trends at Global Web Index, "vloggers are valued more for their stories, tips and experiences than as a source of brand promotion" (Moth, 2015).
Benefits of vlogging for brands
Apart from the reasons a brand should consider before collaborating with vloggers as they were mentioned above, a number of benefits have been associated in blogging for brands.
- Be connected - by using a vlogger to present and talk about your brand you create a more personal association to your product. Thus, consumers feel more closely linked to your brand which is a good element since they tend to trust & purchase products from more people they feel related to (Vidwrx, 2013)
> E.g. Estee Lauder was featured by Zoella through an "active product placement" in vlogger's beauty related video (Letki, 2016)
- Appear high on Google search - due to vlogger's large audience, brands benefit from receiving more visits in their websites and social media accounts as Google tends to appear first vlogger's content than blog's articles because video escalates "organic traffic" (Vidwrx, 2013)
> E.g. Unilever formed the "All Things Hair" vlog channel and collaborated with some vloggers to talk and try various of its products (Stickland, 2015)
- Rise in purchases - usually products which are featured in videos are facing a rise in their sales because videos are enhancing visits, viewer's duration on site and consumer's association to the brand (Vidwrx, 2013)
> E.g. This is what Maybelline attempted to via a "sponsored film" dedicated to brand's products presented by vlogger Lauren Curtis (Letki, 2016)
Image 8 Product's mentioned in Zoella's beauty video
(adapted from Zoella 2016b)
10 tips to get the most out of collaborating with vloggers
- Describe the character of vlogger that best links to your brand profile (Jodie, 2014)
- Set the objectives and the aims of your brand's collaboration with vloggers (Jodie, 2014)
- Make sure you develop your action plan regarding the content to be delivered via the videos (Marriot, 2015)
- Transparency is key when it comes to product placement or advertising via vlogger's videos (Petah, 2015). Moreover, vloggers shall be purely in favor of the brand, for the best outcome of publicity to be obtained (Stickland, 2015)
- Think outside of the box and be creative. Brands can partner with vloggers whose content focus is different from the brand's industry (e.g. airline company with fashion vlogger) (Thornton, 2015)
- Join the discussion and unite with the best performing vloggers who have the greatest impact and audience (Petah, 2015)
- Define your target market and compare it vlogger's target both in terms of profiling of the customer but also of the country of focus to match your brand (Jodie, 2014)
- Provide vloggers with detailed product information and with links to your own media in order to lead viewers to your media and provide them more information (Jodie, 2014)
- "Be consistent" & deliver meaningful information about your product. Become a trustful source that consumers will expect to receive relevant content on a regular basis (Marriot, 2015)
- Help vloggers remain a credible independent source of information - provide them with the freedom to do what they know to do best which makes the audience endorse them (Marriot, 2015)
In conclusion, as this paper explored, there is a strong connection between the progress of social media and the revolution observed in the way consumers act. Consumers vigorously engage in discussions in mediums that support interactions amongst users (Hennig-Thurau, Hofacker & Blocking, 2013). This surpassed the power to consumer's side which resulted in being active across social media channels discussing their opinions about products. Due to network's "interconnectivity" all these shared information is made visible to multiple users which resulted in realizing that consumers are setting the rules of online communication (Hennig-Thurau, Hofacker & Blocking, 2013).
Vlogging, if used properly, is a must have medium for brands that will help them engage with consumers in the platforms they are mostly active.
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