If you follow the UK Blog Awards social channels closely, you will have noticed that Roast Restaurant held a super influencer meet up on Monday 6th February attended by judges, UKBA17 partners, finalists and industry infleuncers - who said that you have to be a finalist to be involved with the UK Blog Awards. Not us.
After the event, we thought it would be rude not to catch up with this years Food and Drink judges, Iqbal Wahhab OBE FRSA from Roast Restuarant and Kimberley Wilson from Monumental Health. We all know that this is a busy time for our judges, as they are diving into the finalist blog content but whilst catching up with our judges, we are beginning to notice a trend that the industry is changing and brands are expecting influencers to be commercially smarter, as well as having a strong focus on authenticity - the 2017 buzz word so far for us! So, grab yourself a drink and enjoy this tasty read..
Firstly, thank you all for agreeing to take part in the UK Blog Awards 2017 judging process. We would love you to share what you expect and would like to see from influencer activity and social media in 2017?
Kimberley: I think there is going to be more of a move towards authenticity. Whilst highly-produced image and content will always have the aesthetic advantage I think there are a growing group of consumers who are growing fatigued with anything that looks or feels too artificial. This is happening in food and I think it will translate to health, beauty and lifestyle too.
Iqbal: I’d like to see user generated content go beyond pictures and more into words describing experiences. More story telling as well as picture taking!
How do you think the industry has changed and grown in the last five years and how has your role changed in the industry with it?
Kimberley: I think the industry has diversified enormously in the last five years, in style, content and presentation. My own material is moving towards combining food and psychology, so looking at our relationship with food and the effect of food on our minds. I now put a greater emphasis on communicating these aspects of food as well as recipes.
Iqbal: Operators like me often didn’t understand the blogging movement five years ago but now have to not just understand it, but embrace it. Those who wait for restaurant critics to give them the thumbs up are living in an increasingly bygone age.
Why did you accept the role of being a UK Blog Awards industry judge and how many times have you judged for your industry?
Kimberley: This is my first time as a judge for the UKBA. I was thrilled to be asked. I have been an avid reader of blogs and rely on blogs to connect with what is happening in food at a grassroots level around the world. I love following the wide variety of adventures in food as well as food policy and sustainable food practices from international bloggers.
Iqbal: This is my second year judging this award. I found the process of getting under the skin of how bloggers are motivated fascinating. I learned a lot from it.
What will you be looking for when assessing the shortlist to crown award winning content?
Kimberley: I will be looking for an original voice. I want to find someone who has something new and interesting to say rather than someone who is just following a trend. I would love to be both entertained and informed.
Iqbal: I want to entertained, educated and engaged in equal measure.
Have you ever won an industry award? If so, how has this helped you and what impact do you feel the UK Blog Awards will have on the industry?
Kimberley: Do you mean food industry? I have been awarded three food awards in the last year; two Great Taste Awards and a World’s Original Marmalade Award. Up until this point that area of food has been fairly niche but there is a growing interest, driven by bloggers, in preserving. Bloggers come to it from different angles – money saving, craft, health – and it is great to see new ideas and innovation taking place.
Iqbal: A few! They establish affirmation and credibility. The UK Blog Awards are great way to act as a loudspeaker for the winners.
Finally, the theme for the 2017 UK Blog Awards is Heroes and Heroines. In your opinion what makes a true Blog Hero?
Kimberley: I am always in awe of a blogger who puts in the time; who does the research to provide their readers with something unique and unexpected. Creating added value is something special and I really appreciate that.
Iqbal: As a businessman, I’m keen to see bloggers scale up the commercial platform from which they operate so their activities become sustainable enterprises.