The judging process officially begun yesterday and will run until Friday 17th February 2017, which we hope will provide our judges with plenty of time to dive into the finalist content.
Last week, we caught up with UK Blog Awards Fashion and Beauty judges Isa Lavahun fromRelations LDN, leading beauty journalist, Alice Hart-Davies and Hayley Sparkes who you may recognise as the Beauty presenter expert from This Morning.
During this interview, the Fashion and Beauty judges share their insight into what their hot predictions will be for 2017, the importance of being authentic as an online influencer and how digital is no longer an afterthought, but the first thought!
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?
Isa: I couldn’t only provide one; I have four predictions to share!
1. Blog stats and readership will become less and less important and social channels like Instagram and Snapchat will prevail. As lives get busier and attention spans get shorter, micro blogging will have a bigger impact. Forget about bloggers, it’s all about micro influencers.
2. Social apps will commercialise even more on their platforms with ads and ruin our user experience. Unfortunately, we’ll still be on them as they’ve got us hooked
3. There will be a new app bringing together the best of Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat
4. Influencer strategy will be at the forefront of digital strategy. As influencers grow their audiences, diversify and heavily impact purchase decisions, they will be the go-to activity for big brand campaigns
Alice: In 2017 (I hope) we will see greater transparency across social media to make it clearer to followers which influencer opinions are genuine and which are sponsored. We will also see people becoming more selective in whom they follow – because everyone is realising that trying to keep pace with everything across all platforms really does your head in!
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?
Isa: Five years ago, influencer marketing was an afterthought. In fact, digital as a whole was an afterthought. The digital team were invited to meetings once all the decisions had been made and strategy agreed. We’d have made do what we were given and try our best to leverage it. Now, I’d say 30% of brands start with a digital strategy and 60% have it at the core of their planning stage. As we can prove clear ROI with measurable KPI’s, it’s a no brainer that more investment and resource has gone into it. Influencers are now being used to launch campaigns or be the face of campaigns as opposed to the ‘add on’ activity.
Alice: The beauty industry’s entire approach to digital has changed hugely in the past five years. Whereas before, some parts of the industry tended to be cautious or even suspicious of the digital world, brands have now embraced digital wholeheartedly and have become very creative with their digital offerings. And of course we’ve seen the massive rise of independent beauty influencers, individual voices who, yes, were there five years ago but now have a massive global platform for their opinions and who are now effectively their own, one-person brand.
I find my role in the industry is changing; print media is continually declining, so alongside my journalism I do consultancy and project work with brands and try to do more online. I’ve been tweeting and blogging for years, and more recently have taken to Instagram and YouTube – it’s all a big challenge for a veteran journalist and I know I have a lot to learn about how to do 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?
Isa: This is the first time judging at a blog awards and I’m honoured. In the last 6 years, I’ve worked with Influencers who have grown to be some of the biggest in the fashion and beauty industry. I’ve also seen up and coming influencers grow from strength to strength and grow their channels and worked with them through this process, so I’m excited to see new talent grow and flourish.
Hayley: I accepted this role as I see it as a great honour. I am always inspired by entrepreneurs, and to start a blog and create a business from scratch is an incredible achievement. I fully appreciate the hard work, creativity and motivation it takes to succeed. I will find it fascinating to review the candidates and in no doubt will come away feeling very inspired by their talents. Earlier this year I was a judge at the British Hairdressing awards.
Alice: I was delighted to be asked to judge for the UK Blog Awards; I enjoy awards judging and love seeing the spread of talent that is out there. I’ve been judging beauty industry awards for about 15 years so I’ve done a lot of them; the following are all ones I’ve done between three and eight times British Hairdresser of the Year, the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards, the Creative Head awards, British Hairdressing Business Awards, British Spa and Beauty Awards and the Marie-Claire Prix d’Excellence de la Beaute awards.
What will you be looking for when assessing the shortlist to crown award winning content?
Isa: There are sooo many blogs out there, especially in the fashion and beauty sectors. I’ll be looking for influencers who have a unique voice and have something different to add to the table. This could be their style, how they write or photograph, or even how they put their content together. It’s all about having an appealing individuality and about being authentic. This is a difficult thing to achieve in such a saturated market, so definitely looking for something different.
Hayley: I will be looking for originality, creativity, passion and authenticity
Alice: I’ll be looking for fresh, authentic voices that show a genuine enthusiasm for their subject
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?
Hayley: I was awards best start up business in the Anglian Business Awards in 2010 and this was a great platform. I really appreciated the recognition as at the time my business was just a year old.
I think the UK Blog Awards will offer an amazing opportunity for the nominees and winners to be recognised for their talents- it will be something to feel incredibly proud of and will certainly add further credibility to their work.
Alice: Yes, I’ve been fortunate enough to be given a number of industry awards for my writing and my contribution to the beauty industry (say if you want details) and they have all helped me enormously, not only to have more confidence in my own work but also led on to many opportunities to work more widely within the beauty industry.
I hope the UK Blog Awards will offer the beauty industry some new names to take notice of.
Finally, the theme for the 2017 UK Blog Awards is Heroes and Heroines. In your opinion what makes a true Blog Hero?
Isa: A blog hero is brave, authentic, creative and really knows what their readers/followers want.
Hayley: A true blog Hero is someone who truly connects and has a positive influence on their readers- to motivate and inspire others through your writing is incredibly powerful.
Alice: Someone who has a distinctive voice, who loves their subject, who has a fresh approach to talking about it and is not afraid to speak their mind.