The Health and Socialcare category is always filled with bags of empathy and energy, illustrating real life experiences. Over the years, we have received some really powerful entrants from people who have embarked on an extremely difficult health journey to influencers sharing their professional and social insight.
Both Dr. Rupy Aujla and Georgina Bentliff from Hammersmith Health Books, partner of the UK Blog Awards 2017 Health and Socialcare category, provide a balanced view on critquing our Health and Socialcare finalists with them collectively being a qualified doctor, influencer and health publishing expert. During this interview, they share their thoughts on how influencing has the capacity to create real positive social change on a global scale, the importance of having a less polished but highly engaged following and the transition from the world of publishing to blogging.
As we mark the New Year, we will see many industry predictions for the year ahead. What are your 2017 industry predictions for the world of influencer activity and social media?
Rupy: I think influencing activity is going to be very important in the future. The rise of snapchat and Facebook Live in particular are setting the trend for more ‘low-tech’ methods of brands interacting with consumers. People are more likely to ‘believe’ influencers who have a genuine interest in what they’re talking about and typically these have a smaller, less polished but highly engaged following. We’re seeing some companies around the globe capitalising on this information by finding ways in which to connect brands with smaller scale influencers and I would expect this to grow in the future.
Georgina: Blogging has had a fantastic year in 2016 and I see that continuing in 2017. As a response to deeply troubling world events and uncertainties, the democracy of blogging will be more essential than ever for small and suppressed alternative voices to be heard.
In my field (health and social care) I do think we are likely to see greater ‘professionalisation’ as ‘influencing’ solidifies as a business opportunity that many will try and some will succeed in – what is heartening is that it is possible to try without massive back-up resources and that alongside the ‘professionals’ there will remain (I hope and believe) unlimited space for bloggers whose priority is to communicate what is important to them with like-minded people.
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?
Rupy: I can only talk for the last 12 months as I started my project in late 2015! Prior to that I was a user of social media rather than someone deemed to have ‘influence’. But the entire concept of being an ‘influencer’ (who isn’t traditionally famous like movie or sports stars) is fairly new. Rather than just a role used to sell products, I believe influencing has the capacity to create real positive social change on a global scale. Personally, I’ve changed the direction of my blog from posting pretty pictures of my recipes to inspiring a new generation of doctors to appreciate and utilise ‘food in medicine’.
Georgina: I am a publisher of health and social care books – that role has stayed the same in its essentials but of course I now look for new authors amongst bloggers and I encourage book authors to get blogging and find how refreshing it is to be able to respond to events immediately, not wait for all the inevitable delays of the publishing process. I am interested too in what bloggers think of the books we publish and how their views may influence interest in reading it.
Why did you accept the role of being a UK Blog Awards industry judge and how many times have you judged for your industry?
Rupy: I was quite surprised and very humbled to be asked to judge the blog awards this year. It’s my first invitation ever! I understand the team wanted new talent on the panel to give a more responsive and involved perspective on the industry, which I’m very happy to be a part of.
Georgina: This will be the first time I have been a judge and with so many committed bloggers and really excellent blogs submitted it is a daunting prospect. I accepted the invitation because – being a publisher of new writing on health and social care – I am fascinated to see how much of the most adventurous and relevant writing appearing today on these issues starts out in blog form. I never have enough time to browse and read the array of blogs available, but with the gems selected by enthusiastic readers for me and an imperative to read all the short-listed entries I will have the perfect excuse to immerse myself in reading.
What will you be looking for when assessing the shortlist to crown award winning content?
Rupy: I’m looking for something refreshingly relevant that promotes a wide message of health and social wellbeing in society. As a clinician, I truly believe the influencers of tomorrow hold tremendous power to educate and inspire the public. The word, and people’s preconceptions of, ‘bloggers’, undermines the authority these guys have. I’m looking for those who have a positive message and the potential to use this leadership role, responsibly.
Georgina: I will be looking for uniqueness – an individual take on the blogger’s chosen subject that is new, different, questioning. I want to see good, engaging writing that gives readers a different perspective. Information should of course be correct (no flaky facts!) and useful and relevant, or fascinating – or all of those. For personal stories, I will be looking for bloggers who share what will help others with similar problems not to feel alone.
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?
Rupy: I think its huge recognition to even be nominated for the award! Hopefully winning will inspire confidence to continue what they’re passionate about promoting.
Georgina: As a book publisher, I submit individual books rather than the company as a whole for awards. I am always so proud when one of our books is a winner (for example, our wonderful author Dr Sarah Myhill won the People’s Book Prize ‘Best Achievement’ Award’ 2016 for her book Sustainable Medicine) – such wins inspire us to do more and of course raise the profile of author and book – and us the publisher too.
Finally, the theme for the 2017 UK Blog Awards is Heroes and Heroines. In your opinion what makes a true BlogHero?
Rupy: A committed and passionate individual that has the ability to inspire others to start their projects they always put on hold. Those who promote the values of responsible blogging, bring due care and attention to their work and ultimately have a positive message to spread that can create real social change.
Georgina: A blog hero in health and social care is someone who genuinely connects with their network by sharing their experience and dedicating themselves to serving others through the blog. It takes a lot of courage to share pain and vulnerability for the entire world to see. Bloggers on illness, chronic health conditions and caring for loved ones I see sharing so openly and bravely about their struggles for the benefit of their followers are my blog heroes.