A changing digital World
I am preparing to deliver a talk at an event at the end of this month. The theme of the event is: ‘How to monetise your blog’. We signed Gummee up to be a sponsor brand of the event, which is very exciting and an amazing opportunity.
Gummee is a brand that we have worked really hard to grow. My products are in Mothercare, Kiddicare, Jojomamanbebe, and Argos, as well as many independent shops and online platforms such as Amazon.
We have a huge social media following, and the main platform for us so far has been Facebook, with over 140k followers. Gummee products are distributed in countries all over the World. To get to this stage, from total bankruptcy and poor mental health, is absolutely amazing, and I count our lucky stars every single day.
However, the World of retail is going through a revolutionary shift, and it is going to keep changing. Massive retailers, that we have known since childhood have disappeared, in serious trouble, or soon will be. One of the biggest reasons for this happening is that they didn’t keep up, or refused to change and adapt.
Every business relies on sales. Sales rely on a relationship – the customer has to ‘buy-in’ to the product. Before parting with their hard earned cash, a customer/consumer needs to have trust, either in the product or the brand, or both. The brand. The BRAND. A brand is created by people, and there are often stories behind brands. How they started, why they started, and most importantly of all and the thing people find the most interesting, is WHO started the brand.
Obviously, you’re not going to walk around doing your grocery shopping and wondering what the story is behind every single brand that you touch, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a story behind every single brand, product or service out there.
One thing that people really love, as well as a story, is authenticity. If a business is really transparent, relatable and honest, people are far more inclined to give that business a little more attention, trust and credit.
Social media is, well, the word is in the title! It is social. If a brands social media accounts are nothing but reams of salesy, impersonal, polished sales pitches in the way of product photos and links to products, it is not going to work very well, especially on Facebook, and especially if you don’t pepper the account with relatable, meaningful content.
Personally, I find brands with some interaction and personality on their social media a lot more interesting and relatable. Especially if there is real life content of the target market using the products/services!
Due to the recent Facebook changes, we are currently re-thinking our entire strategy and testing different types of content and posts on Facebook. I’ve never been afraid to try new things, and I will keep throwing darts until I get the bullseye.
While thinking about my talk, a couple of things occurred to me.
One is that I think I am a business blogger, of sorts. Is there a name for a business blogger? (Let me know if you know of any in the comments!) I have never had an official ‘blog’, but I have always shared the Gummee story on my own personal Facebook page, with my friends and family. On my official Gummee social media platforms, I have always felt that a degree of professionalism is required, but the addition of stories on Facebook and Instagram have been a great way to get a little more personal. I share a lot of behind the scenes stuff on the Gummee Instagram stories and I find it a much more interactive, accessible platform. I have my own ‘Gummee mummee’ accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, because I have always wanted to share more personally, but I never seem to know exactly what to write.
This blog is perfect because I can just be me, without worrying about losing followers if I get it wrong. That said, I don’t worry about losing followers anyway because losing followers is not a bad thing. It simply means you’re filtering your followers to get a more concentrated, high-quality audience who genuinely want to hear from you.
I have hired people and agencies to run the social media accounts for Gummee but I have come to realise that I have a really strong, inner belief that I should be the face of my brand. I should be the one to answer direct messages, comment on followers comments on our posts, share the photo’s they send us etc. Plus, it is in my instincts and DNA to spot opportunities, and because that is so ingrained in me, I feel I am missing out if I don’t get to have those conversations with our followers and customers. We get sent a huge amount of content and messages, so Gummee’s Lucy and I are always there behind the scenes. Our followers talk directly to us and not an outsourced team, which I think is a lot more personal. Our social media is our digital shop window, and so we should be there.
If it wasn’t for social media, Gummee certainly would not be where it is today. We have grown great brand awareness through the various social platforms, and amongst our target market. We still get great interaction on our live video’s. When you compare the interaction we get to the actual amount of followers we have, it is a tiny, tiny percentage but for us, it is about the quality of our brand community rather than the quantity.
Which leads me to the other types of relationships we’ve been able to establish over the years. Bloggers, brand reps and collaborations with other relevant brands has never been more important. We have never really been able to afford a huge amount of advertising, but we’ve been able to work with a lot of great bloggers and brand reps. When I do a brand rep or blogger call, I don’t look for massive amounts of followers. If someone applies and they have a huge following, that is a bonus. However, my checklist usually goes something like:
- What does their blog look like?
- What do their social media accounts look like?
- Do the accounts all have the same name/consistency?
- Do they have a theme/intention?
- Quality and size of following
The above isn’t a tick list, nor an exhaustive list. If someone applies and they have just a couple of hundred followers but they take gorgeous photo’s, I’m usually already sold on working with them. If their account is private, I usually won’t work with them, as my products won’t be found on their feed by anyone searching the hashtags that go with my products.
Time and content are like digital currencies of any business that operates online. Anything that saves me time, is a huge help. Bloggers and brands need content, and both are in a position to help each other. The benefits for each:
For the blogger:
- The credibility of being associated with and representing a brand and it’s products
- Free product/s
- Exposure to the brand’s audience/followers on various platforms
- Content via free product, brand collabs/giveaways
- Website/blog backlinks and mentions
For the brand:
- Product feedback
- Exposure to bloggers/brand reps audience
- Brand awareness
- Relationship/community building
I have established so many friendships with brand reps and bloggers over the years, and they are so loyal. I call them our brand army. We have regular watchers of our live video’s and they are also part of our brand army, shouting about Gummee products and sharing our content. They tell anyone who will listen about our products, and they have been absolutely brilliant for brand awareness. They tell my story for me, and they recommend Gummee products to their friends and family, and word of mouth trumps all other forms of advertising. They buy Gummee products, and they appreciate the hard work and passion that has gone into every product, and into the brand. They know about the story because I frequently share it on social media, and sharing on social media costs nothing.
We really appreciate our regular customers and followers too. It is definitely a two-way thing. We have sent flowers and gifts to regulars who have fallen ill or suffered a bereavement. When they join our live videos we make a point of talking directly to them because we appreciate them being there consistently and supporting the brand.
It has taken a year and a half for me to get even remotely comfortable in front of the camera, however, it is getting easier. Video is a great way to get your brand/blog/profile noticed and grow a community around it. Gummee is not a faceless corporate. I admire big, successful entrepreneurs because they are usually normal people who have worked incredibly hard.
In this highly socially lead digital age, faceless corporates are going to struggle if they don’t master the digital brand to customer relationship and keep up. New startups just starting out right now, do not know a time when social media was not absolutely essential for any business, and it is becoming more and more commonplace for the face of a brand to actually BE the brand, and document the journey.
All opinions in this blog post are my own! I’m aware I have made some fairly bold statements. I am not an expert, but I pay attention to what the World is telling us, always.
Thank you for reading, please leave me a comment if you have any thoughts on this article!